Clever ‘Chuck’ Returns With Fun 3D Episode

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HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 3.5/5.0
Television Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGONBC’s “Chuck” returns this week with a clever 3D episode with guest appearances by Dominic Monaghan (“Lost”) and former NFL star Jerome Bettis and featuring most of what works about this reliably fun show.

“Chuck Versus The Third Dimension” opens with what a large portion of the show’s viewing audience will think of first when they think of this show in 3D - the stunning Yvonne Strahovsky looking sexy as ever in more than two dimensions. Chuck (Zachary Levi) is still dreaming about Sarah but what starts off steamy soon turns deadly. It’s the story of Chuck’s life.

Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski
Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski
Photo credit: Trae Pattern/NBC

If you’re unfamiliar with the show from Josh Schwartz, the creator of “The O.C.” and “Gossip Girl,” the title character is a typical employee at “Buy More,” an electronics store in the model of Best Buy. He’s a bit socially awkward, but not nearly as much as his friend and co-worker Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez).

Chuck becomes the superspy in the middle when his former college roommate, Bryce Larkin, sends him an e-mail with the entirety of the U.S. government’s secret information. But this is no ordinary database. When Chuck opens the email, the information becomes embedded in his brain, turning him into the “Intersect” and making him one of the most important people in the world.

Chuck regularly has flashes of information that help the day-to-day duties of his handlers and guardians, John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Sarah Walker (Strahovski). He’s the reluctant spy.

In this episode, #2.12, an opportunity for international espionage falls into the lap of Mr. Bartowski once again. Funny how that always seems to happen to this ‘average guy’. He’s working in Buy More when someone tries to blow up a hard-living rock star named Tyler Martin (Monaghan). Chuck is tasked with trying protect the party animal rocker while John and Sarah attempt to figure out who’s trying to kill him and why.

Dominic Monaghan as the Rocker, Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski
Dominic Monaghan as the Rocker, Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski
Photo credit: Trae Pattern/NBC

Of course, it’s hard to keep a good rock star down and Tyler convinces Chuck to go out for a night on the town, allowing for some pretty neat 3D party shots.

Meanwhile, Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) brings an old football buddy named Jimmy (Bettis, a former Pittsburgh Steeler and current analyst on “Football Night in America” on NBC) on to the staff at Buy More. Of course, Morgan and the rest of the nerd herd at the store don’t know how to deal with a muscular ex-con. Things get more complicated when Morgan wins a special prize and decides to give away his “plus one” with a series of inane contests.

The ‘spy who knew too much’ material on “Chuck” still works significantly better than the workplace comedy of the Josh Schwartz series. The repartee between Monaghan and Levi is both expertly written and excellently performed. Of course, Monaghan is well-known for playing a rocker named Charlie on “Lost,” but Tyler is distinctly different enough to not make it feel like repetition.

Adam Baldwin as John Casey, Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker
Adam Baldwin as John Casey, Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker
Photo credit: Trae Pattern/NBC

And the highlight of “Chuck” is still the interplay between Levi, Strahovsky, and Baldwin, all of whom are underrated actors and really keep the show moving.

As for the “Buy More” material, it never rises above average. It feels like the writers of “Chuck” are always concerned that the show will lean too heavily to the spy material and so they have to off-set it with goofy workplace behavior to try and ground the action with more comedy. It’s not bad, I just always feel like the show loses its focus a bit whenever it’s in Buy More and that’s certainly true this week. Dominic Monaghan and Yvonne Strahovsky or Jerome Bettis and Joshua Gomez? That’s an easy call.

What about the 3D? It’s that old-fashioned blue & green lens technology that is only moderately successful. With one 3D movie already in theaters (“My Bloody Valentine”), another coming this Friday (“Coraline”), and this entire experiment centered around the 3D commercial for “Monsters vs. Aliens” that aired during the Super Bowl last night, it’s clearly going to be a trend in 2009.

The Intersect material, where Chuck flashes on information stored deep in his brain, looks neat in 3D and some of the scenes have a pretty cool depth to them, although it’s not used as often as you might expect. In fact, it feels like the episode wasn’t written with 3D in mind and that it was just grafted on later.

I don’t think it will take off anytime soon on television. Not only is the old-fashioned tech not nearly as impressive as the Real 3D technology being used in theaters, but it can be as distracting as it is interesting. “Chuck Versus The Third Dimension” didn’t really need the gimmick. If it makes people tune in to this above-average show, then it’s worthwhile, but this episode will air in repeats and on DVD for years without the 3D and nobody will think that anything’s missing.

‘Chuck,’ which airs on NBC, stars Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovsky, Adam Baldwin, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Joshua Gomez, Scott Krinsky, Sarah Lancaster, Ryan McPartlin, Vik Sahay, and guest-stars Dominic Monaghan and Jerome Bettis. “Chuck Versus The Third Dimension” airs on Monday, February 2nd, 2009 at 7PM CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Anonymous's picture

3d Movies YES

That was a funny episode. Regards

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