Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Farewell to "Chuck"

"Chuck" aired it's final episodes last week.  There are a ton of roundups since it was a critically acclaimed show.  But, as you might suspect, I have some thoughts of my own.
1. The show was fun.  It was clear, to reference an article about other shows, that it was loved. It showed in the plot lines (and, um, sometimes the plot holes), the music, the guest stars, all of it.
2. Jeffster!
3. "Chuck" was not afraid to let the characters evolve.  Not only did Chuck himself change and grow, but so did everyone around him.  I remember thinking Morgan was kind of an annoying dude at first, and maybe the show would be better with less of him, but they completely subverted my expectations on that.  (And this is not a knock on either the writing or the acting, just my response to an interesting character arc.)
4. They got fans.  They understood the kinds of things that make fans happy.  Now, certainly one could argue that given the ratings numbers that simply wasn't true, and okay, maybe they just made me feel like they got me.  And this isn't to say that I think they did things just to please us, but this is to say they understood some things were going to be polarizing and some things were going to make people squee and, sure, week to week, there were moments where I thought, oh man that one was a dud, but overall, it usually worked out in some way that when they did something weird (again) I sat back and said, well, I trust them to get me somewhere interesting.
5. I will use this to point you to stuff about their fans, and their thanks, and all of that. (In other words, linkage ahoy!)
6. They understood stakes.  Each year, each potential season end for that matter there was a clear big picture, a big bad or a thing that needed to be taken care of.  They didn't shy away from upping the stakes either, the stakes grew and changed with the characters. But they also paid as much attention to emotional closure, whether it was little stuff like grandma apologizing to baby Clara for brandishing a firearm in her presence, or Chuck and Sarah on the beach together.
7. The initial premise was that Chuck was a regular guy who got caught up in this thing because his friend sent him an email that put a computer in his head.  But over the seasons they proved that Chuck wasn't just any guy, that he was special with or without the computer, and that you can't just go sticking computers in people's heads all the time.  In some ways that seems very simple, but Stephen Tobolowsky talked at one point about how in a show when you get to the next season you kind of have two choices, you can basically try to recreate the previous season, just insert new antagonist, or you can say who are these people now on their journey and how would that change the things they  face.  It's harder to do the second.  And while some of the longer running shows work very well using the first, I tend to find this much more satisfying to me as a viewer. So thanks.