A modern spin on James Bond: Chuck continues to captivate its cult fan base

By Michael O’Hearn – Social Media Editor – mohearn@unca.edu
Short-lived TV shows are always lamented because, upon viewing them a second time, audience members cannot help but wish there were more episodes.
Shows like Firefly and now Chuck come to mind.
Chuck premiered on NBC in 2007 and featured an interesting concept: a computer technician gains access to “The Intersect,” a computer program which is downloaded into his brain and holds all of the National Security Agency and CIA’s secrets.
From there, the show’s protagonist, Chuck Bartowski, embarks with the duo of veteran CIA spy Sarah Walker and stoic NSA Major John Casey on a crusade against the world’s terrorists
What I loved about this show is how unabashedly silly the series was willing to go throughout the five-season run.
Examples include Chuck being stripped of the Intersect and his quirky best friend, Morgan Grimes, obtaining it. That was a both risky and brilliant move to keep the series running in season five.
Chuck, at one point in the series, gains access to the Intersect 2.0, which allows him to instantly think of anything and just as easily be a master at it. Dancing, playing poker or breaking into prisons — you name it, he could understand and excel in it instantaneously.
Even the guest stars NBC managed to cram into the series were superb.
Timothy Dalton, of James Bond fame, plays one of the series’ main villains.
Scott Bakula and Linda Hamilton of the Terminator saga come on board as Chuck’s parents.
Even Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker and the Joker (in the Batman: Arkham video game series) himself, shows up to play a small villain role in season five.
And Superman himself, actor Brandon Routh, made his debut on the small screen by playing a CIA-agent-turned-rogue and becoming a recurring nemesis on the series.
Routh had just finished playing Superman in Superman Returns in 2006. Say what you will about the movie, but I think Routh is a fine actor in anything he does.
Like Firefly (which also stars Adam Baldwin AKA John Casey in Chuck), the series gained a cult following towards the latter half of the series when NBC threatened to cancel it more than once due to lukewarm ratings and declining viewership.
Which is a shame, because this series is like if The A-Team had a love child with Mission: Impossible with a hint of Austin Powers added for good measure.
While throwing every spy thriller trope you can imagine into bed with it, Chuck is able to put a modern spin on the spy genre.
Pitting it against Heroes on Monday nights may have had something to do with the lack of viewership, and when the series moved to Friday nights for its final season, the hammer was getting ready to fall by that point.
It even established the down-to-earth actor Zachary Levi as a likable persona. If you don’t know who that is upon the mention of his name, he also plays a side character in Thor: The Dark World and the antagonist in the newly rebooted Heroes: Reborn.
Oh, I nearly forgot. Levi immediately transitioned from the small screen to film by voicing Flynn Rider in Tangled after Chuck ended.
Levi even spearheads the Nerd HQ and The Nerd Machine campaigns, which spreads the “nerd” culture across the globe.
The campaigns notably make appearances at the San Diego Comic-Con every year.
Levi has discussed a Chuck movie to continue the series, but complications still remain with trying to get it off the ground.
Although he has commitments from the cast, financing and the right script are the missing puzzle pieces, Levi said in an interview with Hollywood Life by Bonnie Fuller in June.
The show is a diamond in the rough and a series that can easily be overlooked if someone were to just browse through Netflix’s ever-growing collection of TV shows.
Until a movie hits the big screen, I’m going to rewatch the series for a third time since it’s on Netflix.
The series also managed to get me hooked on the ’90s grunge-rock band Cake with its catchy theme song about a girl with a short skirt and long jacket.
Chuck is a love letter to the spy genre popularized by James Bond and showcases a balance between comedy, action and drama as Bartowski and his crew take down international criminals with the computer program containing the world’s top secrets installed in his head.

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