“Chuck” is about a late twentysomething who works at a local Best Buy type electronic store called Buy More. A bright, but apparently shy guy, he spends his days working and geeking out with computers and video games with his best friend Morgan.
Chuck’s life takes a dramatic turn when he receives an e-mail from his old college roommate. His old roommate is a government agent who, in a visually stunning action sequence, downloads thousands of images onto a PDA type device, and just before being caught, manages to forward them to Chuck. These submliminally arranged and coded to trigger information in Chuck’s brain when he sees certain situations.
Because of the data contained in the e-mail, two agents are sent to track down Chuck and his hard drive. Sarah, a beautiful blonde with ninja like moves, and John, a jerky guy who doesn’t care what happens to Chuck, as long as he gets his information. When Sarah’s attempt to take Chuck’s computer by force ends badly, she decides to woo him to find out what he knows. When it becomes clear to her that Chuck’s brain is where the information now resides, she becomes his protector.
In a funny sequence about midway through the pilot, Sarah and Chuck go to a club, where they are being pursued by several baddies. Sarah asks the clueless Chuck to dance, and choreographs her moves to several knife throws designed to dispatch the bad guys. She then whisks Chuck away to his Nerd Herd vehicle, a Toyota Yaris decked out in full “Nerd Herd” regalia. While it is obvious product placement, it is incredibly amusing to see a car chase with the good guys driving perhaps the world’s geekiest looking econobox.
The show finally reveals where future episodes will be taking it when Chuck has a vision of an assassination in the middle of a confrontation with John and Sarah. They follow his information to a hotel where a General is speaking, and Chuck finds a very funny way to save the day.
“Chuck” was a pleasant surprise. The show manages to blend comedy, some stunning action, and a bit of corporate satire into a breezy hour. Zachary Levi (“Less than Perfect”) makes an excellent Chuck. Rather than play him as a coward, Levi turns him into a guy who is confident in his nerdiness, and who might actually begin to enjoy the situation he’s in. As Sarah, Australian Yvonne Strzechowski has a likable chemistry with Levi, and makes for an amusingly sexy action hero. The always cocky Adam Baldwin (“Firefly” and “Full Metal Jacket”) makes a great choice to play John, her rival for the information Chuck possesses.
The only question for this show is if it can sustain a 20+ episode season. The pilot sets up the premise that each week a piece of information in Chuck’s brain will trigger a new adventure, and that part of the dramatic tension will revolve around trying to remain a member of the Nerd Herd while helping out Sarah and John (Hey, I just got the Terminator reference!). And the show hints at a story arc involving Chuck trying to figure out just who Sarah and John really are. If the show can maintain the pace and good humor of the pilot, I think NBC may have the breakout show of the season.