>TV Round-Up: Chuck

>”Chuck vs. the Tic Tac,” “Chuck vs the Final Exam,” “Chuck vs the American Hero,” Chuck vs. the Other Guy”

The third season of “Chuck” has been an interesting ride. Saved from extinction by a massive fan campaign last year, the show was given a 13-episode pick-up by NBC. Then troubles fell on NBC in the crash and burn of Jay Leno in primetime and suddenly “Chuck” was needed and needed very badly. So, we got an extended season.

But rather than offering filler episodes or more fluff, the producers decided to stick to their original 13-episode plan and then add a second arc of six episodes for the end of the season.

The last month or so of “Chuck” has been the final run of those first 13 episode and it has been, quite frankly, a lot of fun to watch.

The third season has been about Chuck growing up and becoming a real spy. Early episodes were given over to Chuck learning about the upgrade to the Intersect in his head and what that meant to him as a character. Now that we’ve found a way for Chuck to fully access the information in his head, we’ve got Chuck moving into the arena of being a real honest-to-goodness spy and all that means. As the story progressed, we found Chuck slowly realizing that in achieving one of his dreams, he may have to give up on another–namely a relationship with Sarah.

If there’s been one frustration I’ve had with season three it’s the way that will they or won’t they aspect of Chuck and Sarah has been dragged out. While I can see why Shaw was brought into the show and what the series did with him in order to finally get Chuck and Sarah together, I still can’t help but feel that the character as a whole was a bit of red herring. I guessed a few weeks ago that Shaw would somehow be connected to the Ring, so the big reveal in this week’s episodes wasn’t necessarily that huge. And surely Sarah should have had a greater clue about things when Shaw tells them to leave the elevator and they don’t actually see Shaw kill the leader of the Ring.

It also brings up some interesting questions about Shaw and his loyalties. Before his death, Shaw claims he hasn’t told the Ring about Chuck and the Intersect. Was that necessarily true? Given that a lot of the other statements he’s made are all based on lies, could Shaw be lying? It’s apparently the Ring has figured out that there’s something more to the Buy More than meets the eye, but will it be followed up on? Or is the Ring really destroyed and we’ll have a new threat in the second part of the season? Also, I have to wonder if Shaw’s professions of love for Sarah were real or were they done as part of his cover? Again, if Shaw’s intention was to be a double-agent and we see that by playing on Chuck’s emotions we can disable the Intersect than why not use Sarah to do that?

It’s some things that I think a review of the season on DVD might help answer. And heaven only knows it works far better than the Dana Walsh in the latest CTU mole storyline on “24.” (I will post a long reaction to the current day of “24” as soon as I catch up on this week’s two hour episode.)

It’s always interesting to watch how far the show will go to push the characters and then have to work to hit the reset button. We knew that Casey couldn’t remain on the sidelines forever and the show at least earned his return in a good way. I wasn’t expecting Casey to pull Morgan in as part of his reinstatement, but the whole concept for Morgan being part of Team Bartowski for the rest of the season (and hopefully for season four) holds a lot of promise.

Also, I will admit that I’m glad they finally got Chuck and Sarah together, if only so we don’t have to have yet another complication arise in the back half of the show. I’m optimistic that the show can balance things so it won’t be all about whatever relationship issue Chuck and Sarah face next. Hopefully we’ll see them together and happy for a few weeks before the inevitable relationship breakdown that generally occurs on most will they or won’t they couples.

The last two episodes, in particular, have been great examples of “Chuck” at its best. I’m just glad we don’t have to wait six months for new episodes–instead it’s just two weeks.

Hopefully the repeats won’t drive off fans and the show can get the fourth season it deserves.

And if we have to lose “Heroes” to get more “Chuck” than that’s a trade-off I can live with.

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