Meet Chuck, yet another in a long line of geek wish fulfillment shows that are hitting screens nowadays. As a geek, I’m just fine with this. This is the show with the guy from Nerd Herd (read: Geek Squad) and a computer’s worth of government secrets in his head. Add in sexy CIA assassins, NSA killers, and some clever swipes at big-box stores, and you’ve got a heck of a fun hour of TV.
Ninja Spoiler assassins are breaking into your house right now!
So, the basics: Chuck is a geeky man-child who dropped out of Stanford after his college roommate, Bryce, stole the girl of his dreams, thus breaking his heart and robbing him of the will to aspire to more than a dead-end, retail-esque job. He’s TV-geeky. What else do you expect from former OC poobah Josh Schwartz — he’s the guy who brought us Seth Cohen, after all. Chuck lives with his sister and Captain Awesome, her "awesome!" spouting boyfriend, and hangs out with Morgan, who, quite frankly, I wouldn’t mind kicking in the head repeatedly. There’s a line between quirky and annoying, and Morgan? He’s way on the annoying side.
Chuck thinks Bryce is now an accountant somewhere. The captions helpfully inform us he’s not — well, that and the fact he’s breaking into computer rooms, blowing things up, acrobatically kicking butt, and eventually getting shot (by the always excellent Adam Baldwin, no less.) But before Bryce buys it, he sends Chuck a coded message — one that downloads the entire NSA/CIA/Secret Service/Insert-your-government-acronym-here database of secrets into his head. How? Let’s not sully our geek action hour with nasty little details like that, shall we? Let’s just assume that all those pictures of pies and dancers and all the rest are really coded bits of government information and leave it at that, ok?
Now the CIA and the NSA want to know what Bryce did, why he did it, and who this Chuck guy is. The CIA sends Sarah, a comely blond with a knife collection and an ability to kick ass while dirty dancing (it’s like they read my diary!), who checks out Chuck, then breaks into his house in full ninja gear to steal his computer. Alas, the computer crashes (literally — Morgan the idiot put up the shelf NinjaSarah stashes the computer on, and it goes boom), so Sarah turns to plan B, which involves asking Chuck out and picking his brain. And of course, hanging out with him, she starts to realize what a sweet, funny, attractive guy he really is, and maybe, just maybe, she’s falling for him. See what I mean about geek wish fulfillment? And to top it off, we later learn that Sarah had a thing with Bryce, and so now maybe Chuck is getting his own back from his former frenemy.
While they’re together, the NSA sends its goon squad after Chuck, and Adam Baldwin’s NSA hardass John Casey leads the charge. He wants to take Chuck alive — for now — but he’s fine with killing Sarah. Interagency rivalry is ugly, y’all. I shudder to think what the CIA/NSA softball game is like.
This brings up probably the best sequence in the pilot — Sarah trying to protect Chuck on the dance floor without him knowing what’s going on. That leads to acrobatic dance moves, plus a fair bit of bumping and grinding, that’s all designed to camouflage the fact that she’s flinging knives, stabbing NSA suits with poison hair pins, and basically jabbing her way through the NSA outfield. It’s good stuff, and no description I give will do it justice. You’ll have to check it out.
Then comes the obligatory car chase, which borrows a bit from the first Bourne movie, what with the stairs and the little car, but adds in stoner skaters and security barriers. Again, good stuff. All this culminates with Sarah and Chuck on the roof of a high-rise, Casey proposing to they just off Chuck and get it over with, and Chuck realizing that the stuff in his head can help him Save the World. Ok, he just realizes he’s got the details of a bomb plot, but close enough. Chuck manages to disable the bomb through the judicious application of a worm embedded in internet porn. That’s right, folks — internet porn saves the world. Take that, Citizens for Community Values!
Casey is all for taking Chuck back to DC and siphoning out his gray matter, while Sarah wants to take a gentler approach. Chuck realizes that he’s more important to the government spooks than they are to him, and therefore he lays down the law and tells them he’s going home. Ah, geek wish fulfillment at its finest — that’s right, Chuck, tell the big bad mean guy that he can take a leap, because what’s in your precious brain renders him helpless. Strangely, Casey doesn’t respond by putting Chuck’s head on a pike, but I’ll blame the jet lag.
And I’m glad he doesn’t, because this sets up one of the laugh-out-loud fabulous parts of the episode — so there’s Chuck, at work, trying to reconcile the fact that he’s got a head full of government data with the fact that he’s being pushed around by work rivals, etc., when he’s told to train "the new guy." And there’s Adam Baldwin, grinning menacingly and filling out a nasty green BuyMore-issued polo shirt. Adam Baldwin! From Firefly, and X-Files, and Angel and heck, My Bodyguard! (Told you I was a geek.) Is there anyone less likely to work retail? I think not. Sarah is also trolling the aisles, posing as a customer, and Chuck gets a flash of her gutting a number of big bad men before taking out a security camera. Hey, she did say she had baggage…
It’s a fun show, folks — light, funny, with a plot that keeps moving. Is it groundbreaking, original, never-before-seen? Nah. For one thing, I couldn’t help but get Jake 2.0 flashbacks. Maybe they can get Christopher Gorham to do a guest spot. That would make my little geeky heart go pitter-pat.