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Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Chuck" Review: McG Steals the Show

Since it comes from the creator of “The O.C.,” Josh Schwartz, and his fellow “O.C.” executive producer, our pal McG, I was pretty excited about seeing “Chuck.”

I just wish I was as excited after seeing it…

If you missed it, Chuck (Zachary Levi) is the leader of the Nerd Herd at a Buy More store (Think Geek Squad at Best Buy.). His biggest struggles in life are deciding whether or not he wants to be a manager and dodging his sister’s attempts at fixing him up.

That is until his old college roommate, Bryce (Matthew Bomer of “Traveler” in a truly inspired guest spot), gets him involved in national security. Bryce sends Chuck an e-mail of images that contains all of the secrets of the CIA and NSA. When Chuck watches the images, he downloads all of the secrets into his brain.

It’s only a matter of time before Chuck has both the NSA and CIA on his tail in the form of CIA agent Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and NSA Agent John (Adam Baldwin). John was sent to kill Chuck, but when Sarah realizes the secrets are in Chuck’s brain, she convinces him to keep Chuck alive because they need him.

And when Chuck realizes what he is capable of doing, he starts to embrace life a little more.

Let me say that “Chuck” is not a bad show. It’s just not quite as good as I hoped. The breakdown for me was in the combination of action and comedy. The action stuff pops, but the comedy often falls flat. The running joke of Chuck’s sister’s fiancé Captain Awesome gets old rather quickly and Chuck’s slacker best friend is pointless and annoying.

And don’t even get me started on Chuck’s bland and pointless sister (Sarah Lancaster)…

Zachary Levi (“Less Than Perfect”) is outstanding in the title role and Adam Baldwin is always great in a law enforcement role (I LOVED him in “Independence Day.”). But the star of the pilot is none other than McG who directs the episode. His action sequences are outstanding with all the “Charlie’s Angels” goodness he could pack in them. The sequence with Bryce stealing the secrets made me wish that “Traveler” had made as good of use out of Bomer. And the sequence of Sarah taking out rival agents on the dance floor with her hair pins was a little trite, but McG still made it work.

There’s a lot of possibility here as we see Chuck adjust to his newfound life, while we learn that Sarah may have a few secrets of her own (If you pay close attention, you’ll see them coming.). Schwartz just needs to steer more to the spy side than the normal life side.

Because who wants normal anyway?...

“Chuck” premieres Monday , September 24th at 8 p.m. on NBC…