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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ode to ‘Chuck’…And to John Casey!

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It might not be my place to do the first “Chuck” post at Big Hollywood, what with Adam Baldwin being a contributor here and all, but one needed to be done (especially since the season finale airs tonight) and I am all about stepping up. It is probably better for a fan of the show to write about it anyway because it would be a bit embarrassing for Baldwin to have to go on and on about how incredible his John Casey character is.

For those who have not yet watched “Chuck,” let me explain what you are missing while you still have time to rent and watch the first seasons on DVD before reruns of the current season begin. “Chuck” is an hour-long comedy/action/drama airing Monday nights on NBC. The show is now completing its third season and has just been renewed for a fourth.

The series follows the adventures of Buy More electronics store employee, Chuck Bartowski, who is sucked into the world of spies when his former college roommate downloads the “Intersect” into Chuck’s brain via encrypted email. The “Intersect” turns Chuck’s brain into a super computer full of the country’s most vital security secrets. Later in the series, Chuck downloads the Intersect 2.0 which not only fills him with information about foreign agents and secret missions, but gives him special skills that enable him to function as a kickass trained spy.

The show follows Chuck navigating his way through a double life between his cover job at Buy More and his spy life going on top secret missions. Chuck is the quintessential “every guy.” He is smart, but a bit geeky. He is cute, but not a pretty boy. He is genuinely good with a moral compass that is sometimes at odds with the missions he is tasked to perform. His handlers, spies Sarah Walker and John Casey, act at times as his protectors and at other times as fellow agents. Chuck is in love with Sarah so there is a romantic angle as well. Other characters include Chuck’s sister Ellie and her husband Devon (nicknamed Awesome because he is, well, awesome), his best friend Morgan, his boss Big Mike, and Buy More co-workers Jeff and Lester.

The show has it all – great action scenes, adventure, mystery, romance and humor. The show is, above all, very funny. At times it is hilarious. The characters are caricatures in some ways, but they are written and acted with hearts and souls and humor that make them so much more than that.

Adam Baldwin’s John Casey character is a perfect example. If you have ever heard those super tough guy jokes about Chuck Norris (or Dick Cheney or Jack Bauer), you will immediately recognize the type of character John Casey is. You know, jokes like “there is no theory of evolution, just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live” or “some people wear Superman pajamas, but Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas.” Just swap out Chuck Norris’s name with John Casey’s and that is the kind of character he is.

This is my favorite Casey quote so far:

Lester: How do we know we can trust you, son that you’re not some kind of spy for the man?

Casey: Because the only thing I hate more than hippie and neo-liberal fascists and anarchists are the hypocrite fat cat suits they eventually grow up to become.

Even as tough as Casey is, his character shows real human feelings from time to time, and his devotion to mission and country and his willingness to lay down his life for them is heartwarming in its own way. The other characters are very different, but every bit as good as Casey. I am focusing on him here since he is the gun-toting, commie-hating, conservative badass on the show (and because I am hoping to convince Adam Baldwin to follow me on Twitter).

I’ve watched “Chuck” since the first episode of Season 1 and have thoroughly enjoyed it, but never as much as this season when my nine-year-old daughter discovered the show. There is some sexual content on the show, between the Chuck and Sarah characters, as well as with Chuck’s sometimes disgusting and bizarre Buy More co-workers. But the episodes are mostly family friendly, and the majority of the sexual content is brief and/or insinuated.

Although this is her first season watching the show, she has a good feel for all the characters. Last week when the character Ellie was hiding with a gun while Casey approached her unaware, my daughter said, “Don’t worry. She can’t kill Casey. He is indestructible.” But my daughter’s favorite character is the hilarious, and sometimes mildly pathetic, Morgan Grimes (Chuck’s best friend played by Joshua Gomez). I have watched her laugh so hard at Morgan that she could barely catch her breath.

Monday night at 8 p.m. is now one of our favorite “together” times and as she watches the previews for the coming week’s show she complains about having to wait an entire week to see it. I don’t know how she is going to take having to wait until the next season begins, but thankfully there will be a next season, and she has not yet caught up on all the episodes from Seasons 1 and 2. We recently rented the pilot and the first few episodes and have already watched them, but we still have the rest of Season 1 and all of Season 2 to work our way through over the summer. If you have not yet discovered “Chuck,” I recommend you do the same.

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