In the US: Starts September 24th, NBC, 8pm
In the UK: Not yet acquired
There have been many iterations of the “nerd becomes spy” genre over the years: Jake 2.0, Joe 90, Condorman, Spies Like Us and many more. Joining this not-so-elite genre is Chuck, in which a tech support guy accidentally gets thrown into the deep end of international politics, thanks to an email from his former roommate.
Despite this somewhat derivative concept and despite coming from McG, “creative force” behind Charlie's Angels, Fastlane, Supernatural and Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, Chuck is actually a surprisingly good action-comedy show with some nicely fashioned characters and a good cast.
Chuck is a regular, unsuccessful nerd, minding his own business down at the local computer store's tech support desk. He's not had much luck with girls of late, not since that girl at college and despite the efforts of his sister.
All that changes when he gets an email full of weird images from his former roommate, Bryce. Unknowingly, Chuck's mind has now been dumped full of results from the NSA's sabotaged data mining app. Now his mind is finding links between things that the NSA had no idea about. Trouble is, that's all he knows about the spy business and everyone wants what's in his head.
Is it any good?
For a terrible moment, it looked awful. But it soon perked up. For starters, Chuck isn't the standard nerd of most shows. Sure, he has nerdy interests. But he's had dates; he has social skills; he can make jokes on sensible subjects. He's no stereotype and is actually quite appealing.
Secondly, it's purely Chuck's knowledge that gets him by. He doesn't mysteriously acquire kung fu skills, can't leap tall buildings at a single bound, and can't chase Jason Bourne in a Mini. Intellect wins though here, which is a slightly novel message for something from McG.
The action is all pretty good, as you'd also expect from McG, with some nice Hong Kong-style kung fu to liven up what could have been generic. There's also some depth to the NSA agent he ends up partnered with (Ausi actress Yvonne Strahovski) and a “can he trust them” tension that makes the show quite gripping. It's also funny at times, which has got to be good. Sure the computer stuff is all rubbish, but when's that ever been new?
Definitely one to try. Here's a YouTube trailer
Zachary Levi (Chuck)
Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah)
Joshua Gomez (Morgan)
Adam Baldwin (John)
- October 10, 2007: Third-episode verdict: Chuck
My third-episode verdict on Chuck
- April 4, 2008: Download the pilot episode of Chuck for free
You can download the pilot episode of Chuck for free off iTunes in the UK
- April 30, 2009: Season finale: Chuck (Season two)
A review of the finale of season two of Chuck
- April 5, 2011: Review: Chaos 1x1
A review of the first episode of CBS's Chaos - reasonable, but unlikely to last very long
- October 7, 2015: Third-episode verdict: Limitless (US: CBS; UK: Sky Living)
A review of the first three episodes of CBS/Sky Living's Limitless
- December 9, 2015: Review: Telenovela 1x1-1x2 (US: NBC)
A review of the first two episodes of NBC's Telenovela