Just behind Battlestar Galactica, The Office, and Mad Men, Chuck is one of the best shows on television (and you can watch the full premiere above). There were some problems with the first season -- like how the espionage storylines never paralleled Chuck's real-world Buy More life -- that this season seems to consciously be fixing. In the premiere, Chuck, who has CIA intel stored in his brain (the 'intersect'), is told that the CIA has an actual intersect chip and that Chuck is no longer needed. The entire episode follows Chuck as he dreams about what he could potentially become, a man beyond Call of Duty 4 and the Buy More, and his growing excitement about the possibilities of the future get you excited. Of course, as the omniscient viewer, you know that CIA agent Casey (the ever-fabulous Adam Baldwin) has been given the assignment to kill him. (You can't have Joe Schmo running around with classified intelligence in his brain, now can you?) The episode sets up the ending so wonderfully -- even if Chuck wins (his life), he still loses (his freedom). Even if he loses (his freedom), he still loses his life (because he'll be a slave to his brain-intersect and the CIA).
One of my biggest critiques of this show is that I don't like Sarah, Chuck's so-called romantic interest. Chuck has more chemistry with his sister Ellie, but that's not Zachary Levi's fault. He's giving 200%. I don't like the actress who plays Sarah -- she doesn't seem to know how to balance sexiness from kick-assery. On their first date, Sarah practically makes Chuck fawn over her with compliments and she puckers her lips and tries to be seductive (with chopsticks, nonetheless), and this rang really false with me. She couldn't be normal for once? She had to be the seductress? Why couldn't she just be Sarah? On a date. Normal. There was ONE MOMENT from Season 1 where Chuck asks her to tell him something true about herself, and when he's out of ear shot, she whispers her middle name. (Or was it her favorite color? Something like that.) I'm not saying they should overly humanize Sarah -- because I like her and Casey in the roles they've been given -- but it would be nice if every now and then she was something other than a CIA agent or Chuck's fake girlfriend. Maybe once every three episodes, they can show a vulnerability? Yeah?
But don't get me wrong. I loved this episode. (After accidentally seeing Captain Awesome's man package in the shower, Chuck is eating the Nuts & More cereal. Brilliant!) There are a lot of visual and audio parallels -- like Chuck getting out of bed with hope and then without a hope in the world, the Huey Lewis songs, being caught by Michael Clarke Duncan and hung upside down by his feet, etc. -- that work really well. And the Morgan storyline with Call of Duty was beyond amazing... and besides, it showed that Chuck can be in a tough situation and actually handle it, albeit in his own dorky lovable way. But I deduct points for the awkwardness that was the Assistant Manager interviews. Despite the Wikipedia joke and the resume napkin, it kind of bothered me. Although Morgan's cage match solution almost made it worth it. Almost.
Rating: A. Solid premiere. (By the way, I voted for Chuck as my TV husband. Don't understand why he's better than my original fake husband, Jim Halpert? Watch the episode above. Trust me.)
Some memorable, noteworthy quotes:
Chuck: Do you have a second?
Casey: Not right now. I have a single white female pining for the Beastmaster.
Ellie: Any ideas about what you're going to do next?
Chuck: Yeah, a few...
Ellie: If you say pilot the Millenium Falcon... I will hit you.
Chuck: What...? Why... why would I say that? That's absurd. I'm going to be a ninja assassin.
Ellie: No, try again.
Chuck: Uhh... olympic...
Chuck: A secret agent.
Mr. Colt: I need you to come with me.
Sarah: And why would we do that?
Mr. Colt: Because I assume you find me imposing. Don't worry, be honest. I'm going for imposing.
Chuck: Mission accomplished.
Chuck: The Moo-Goo Gai Pan is pretty expensive here. We could go dutch. How much do bad guys usually tip?
Chuck: "Somebody order drive through," huh? Did you think that up as you were racing over to save us? "Hey, maybe I'll say this after I CRASH INTO THE RESTAURANT!"
Chuck: What is this? Is this trash? Am I supposed to throw this away?
Jeff: It's my resume.
Casey: (masking the fact that he likes Chuck by mocking him) What? You don't want me here to catch you when you fall?
Chuck: I'd rather you be flying around in jets blowing stuff up.
Morgan: (MCing a cage match to determine the new assistant manager) One of them will be the new assistant manager! And one of them... will be Jeff! The fates will decide!
Chuck: Those pea shooters you're holding might as well be sharp sticks and strong language.
Chuck: (a nice nod to Cool Hand Luke) 90? Nobody can eat 90 Twinkies...