Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The End of Chuck

The day I've been dreading for the past few months has arrived last Saturday. We watched the very last episode of Chuck. We finished making our way through Chuck's entire catalog of 91 episodes.

I have to say I like the ending. It's hard to finish things off after such a buildup (refer to Mass Effect for extra inputs there). Those who seek closure are fooling themselves: the only way to achieve full closure after a path so long is via a cop out. Either with a cheesy Disney fairytale ending, a very tragic ending, or a "fast forward many years" Harry Potter style ending. All of which would not only leave a bad taste in the mouth, they would also block good followup opportunities. And let's admit it: I suspect what all Chuck fans want the most is more Chuck.
So yes, I like the ending. First because it forced Zachary Levi to actually act, at least for a few minutes. More seriously, though (I love you, Zachary!): For a series that comes down to "the nice boy does get the girl", unraveling all that was achieved during the past five seasons and starting afresh is, well, fresh. [Note I will leave the discussion on the whole nice boy can get the girl thing out of this post's scope.]

Which brings me to ask, yet again, what it is about Chuck that made me love it so much. It wasn't as funny as Seinfeld, far from as high quality and influential as Cosmos, but it is still the TV series I would label as my most favorite ever. Why?
The answer is complicated, of course. There are the multitude of lovable characters, the whole Buy More anti consumerism joke, the nerd themes, the long row of geek culture heroes taking their role (and often reprising the stuff that brought them their glory), and this whole idea of being able to go to extraordinary places even when life seems incredibly dull and hopeless.
I will argue there is more to that than the series itself. I will argue for a technicality.
It has to do with the way we watched the series. As I mentioned here before, we gave the very first episode a try after I decided to give my Mass Effect heroes a go in their non Mass Effect ventures. We watched the first episode, enjoyed it, and moved on with our lives. A week or so later we were asking ourselves what to watch that evening, and having run out of options I suggested another episode of Chuck; we gave it a go. A few days later we had the same dilemma again, and we gave Chuck another go. Then something else happened: we started watching Chuck every night. We started watching Chuck so passionately we were watching two or even three episodes a night; we could not hold ourselves back. We actually got to the stage, about half way through, where we started devising cunning ways to hold back on our Chuck episodes' consumption for fear of running out.
I will therefore raise the following argument: being able to watch Chuck whenever we wanted helped us get into the thick of the series. Further: it is exactly because we were able to follow up on Chuck night after night that we became totally addicted. In other words, I strongly suspect that were we to watch the series on a weekly basis at a time predetermined by some demigod at the TV station, the chances of us falling for Chuck as badly as we did would have been a lot slimmer.
What I'm trying to say is that Chuck the TV series is probably not as special as I feel it is. It got an "unfair" advantage by virtue of the way we ended up watching it. Which, if you ask me, should raise the alarm bells with TV networks: hey, guys, your business model is about to die.

But you know what? Forget everything I said thus far. The real reason I like Chuck is Yvonne Strahovski.

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