Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kids, Always Remember to Wear Gloves

I've been looking back over "review" style posts, and one thing that seems to be relatively scarce is reviews of TV shows that I'm watching, which, frankly, is odd, because between you, me, and the lamppost, I watch a lot of TV. It's possible that I've spent more time watching TV in a given week than reading books (you know, my actual work), reading comics, and playing video games and watching movies all together. I justify this huge time-hole by the statement (and truth, BTW) that the driving impetus behind virtually all my academic work is the observation and dissection of narrative discourse, and TV falls into that category (well, technically, all experience falls into that category, but TV gets included.) At the moment, I'm deeply committed to a plethora of shows that includes Big Bang Theory, Full Metal Alchemist, and Batman: Brave and the Bold, all quality television. But the big *MOMENT* of this week (and I'll admit, the week's not over yet, there's still the big Thursday Night shows) comes from a fond favorite, Chuck.

Not a lot of people know about Chuck, which is always disappointing to me. It's a great show. It combines romance, comedy, and action in a way that hasn't been done consistently on television since Alias started sucking a few years back. The plot is fairly simple: through the show's one and usually only sci-fi twist, Chuck Bartowski, nice-guy and all-around loser who's wasting his life at a low level tech job at a Future Shop equivalent--accidentally gets the CIA mainframe hardwired into his brain. Now, he has a secret life as a government James Bond-esque spy that he needs to balance with his regular life, and two handlers: the romantic/platonic interest, Sarah, and the gruff Casey (played by the always great Adam Baldwin). The show is deftly supported by a wonderful supporting cast, which includes the general giving them their marching orders, Chuck's high achieving doctor/sister and her boyfriend Captain Awesome (long story) and Chuck's fellow BuyMore employees, which include a post Arrested Development Tony Hale. Other current, ridiculously cool guest stars include Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula (we don't talk about Enterprise) as Chuck's father, and Chevy Chase as the leader of the evil terrorist group Fulcrum.

And that's part of the show's current problem. For reasons that I can't fathom, the show's ratings have struggled this season--I blame the fact that it's been shackled to its partner show, the great big bowl of suck that Heroes has become. And rumour has it that it needs to cut down on its huge, awesome cast, because it takes up a lot of cash. So it's got two things against it. But it's a Josh Schwartz production, and, season 3 of the OC beside, that means between this and his other show, Gossip Girl, you're guaranteed an hour of goodness.

Normally, even though the episode of Chuck will be good in a given week, it will be eclipsed by the sheer incredible genius of Gossip Girl. But this week, it was the other way around. Aside from vast, show-altering spoiler-ridden developments, my favorite part came in the early scenes. The platonic relationship between Chuck and Sara suddenly becomes much less platonic. They're currently on the lam, and do the traditionally charged "bed sharing moment," and wake up with the comedy gold that is unintentional spooning--and then the show goes somewhere else. I found a video that I'm putting below:

video
As you can see, the comedy transitions into saccharine hand-holding, which in turn goes to hot-and-heavy, which goes back to comedy, with the traditional "IOU one Condom." I'm not sure if this clip can entirely convey what is basically the end result of two seasons of build-up, but it really struck me as a wonderful scene. It's the sweetest thing on television since Pushing Daisies was canceled, and it segues into the most erotically charged scene on television since... um... well, since the last episode of Gossip Girl.
The whole thing reminds me of an episode of another wonderful Monday night show, which I'll be blogging about sooner or later at much greater length: How I Met Your Mother. Specifically, the episode where Ted gives a toned-down version of Marshall and Lily's reunion, featuring them hanging out in a bar at a very reasonable time, drinking glasses of "milk," and "holding hands," which builds until another character goes to the washroom, and catches them "holding hands" in a bathroom stall.

HIMYM: classiest show on television.

Two good shows. Watch 'em, and know quality.

Later Days.

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