Thursday, March 26, 2015

S1Ep8 Vs The Truth -- The Chuck Series Companion

This Episode of the Chuck Series Companion covers Season One Episode Eight of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck versus The Truth - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

S1Ep8 Vs The Truth

Chuck vs The Truth

It's killing Chuck having to lie to the people that he loves, little white lies to his sister Ellie and to his best friend Morgan are taking their toll on him and his conscience. When Lou walks in, Chuck strikes an instant flirtation with her *Boom* instant chemistry. Now what is Chuck to do? He already has a girlfriend Sarah, sure she's not really his girlfriend (although he would really like her to be), she's his undercover CIA Handler protecting her asset but Chuck can't tell that to anyone, not even a girl he wants to date. Quite a pickle that Chuck is in.

To make matters worse, Awesome can't help but notice that Chuck and his supposed Girlfriend have yet to do the deed. Mind your own business Awesome, will you? Sarah now wants Chuck to pretend to sleep with her to protect their cover but all that Chuck can think about is the girl he just met, Lou. At least Lou can show feelings, unlike Sarah. I honestly think that Chuck has preferable feelings for Sarah, feelings that he is willing to share with her but he can't and it is driving him nuts. The problem is she can't be honest with him, it's part of her life as a Spy, as a handler. She simply can't fall in love with the Asset, it's unprofessional. But to hell with that, look at the expression on her face when Chuck is talking to Lou in the parking lot and later when he visits Lou in her sandwich shop (Which by the way makes her a dream girl being a Sandwich Entrepreneur).

This is also the episode that we have to say farewell to Harry Tang played by C.S. Lee. What a great character actor he is, I will always wonder where Harry Tang is and what he's up to, and what lower rung employees he is torturing. This is also the last known sighting of Sarah's Wienerlicious Boss - Scooter. I have a theory that he is buried on some back lot in Burbank, perhaps Sarah just couldn't handle him constantly getting into her business or like Harry maybe one day he saw too much and he is now Harry's neighbor in Oahu. It's funny going back to the first season I am always surprised when Scooter shows up, 'Oh yeah, I forgot that guy exists' I think. I assume it was easier for the CIA to purchase the Wienerlicious location for Sarah to operate out of than dealing with a by-the-book ass-kiss like Scooter.

Download the Podcast Episode: S1Ep8 Vs The Truth

This episode wasn't as jam packed with songs as Alma Mater was but the ones that were used were very effective like Ain't I been good to You -- The Isley Brothers, Toxic -- Britney Spears and Fresh Feeling -- The Eels.

When I read Alan Sepinwall's recap of 'Truth' I was so disappointed in myself that I missed the use of the Great Escape theme by Elmer Bernstein in the episode. My Dad being a Movie Composer nut who bombarded my childhood with motion picture soundtracks would be deeply saddened by my failure. You should also check out Eric Goldman's recap. I hadn't ever read Goldman's Chuck recaps before starting this blog but I am having a blast reading his takes on each episode of Chuck.

When I first started this podcast and blog I started with a question, "Why do I love this show so much?" I have answers but not THE answer. Is it Chuck himself, the part goofball, part Geek/Nice guy reluctant hero? Is it the Spy World and the cool gadgets? Is it the Comedy? This show does indeed make me laugh. Is it Sarah? The beautiful very capable spy who is easy on the eyes or is it a love of all of the characters? I think it's a mixture of all of the above. Perhaps after I cover more Chuck I will know the answer. I think about it from time to time while I am watching the show, stuff that makes me laugh and smile and makes me feel good and warms my heart.

There are so many great Chuck Episodes ahead of me to cover on the podcast that I get excited and I have to calm down. One episode at a time, One at a time.

Until then,

The Jastrom                                          

Thursday, March 19, 2015

S1Ep7 Vs The Alma Mater -- The Chuck Series Companion

Covering Season One Episode Seven of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck versus The Alma Mater - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! Subscribe and Review the Show on iTunes!

S1Ep7 Vs The Alma Mater

Chuck vs The Alma Mater

This is the first episode of Season One of Chuck that packs quite an emotional wallop. We get used to this later in the series but when I began this podcast, I tried to think about when liking Chuck turned into loving Chuck and this is one of the episodes of the series where I start to love it. The Series starts off with humor and action thrills and there are certainly some warm moments but in this episode we get an emotional punch. When I watched this episode before recording the podcast I found myself welling up at the Bryce Truth reveal at the end, I think it's a combination of Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski and Matt Bomer selling it along with the beautiful music of Tim Jones. It was a group effort and indeed it was quite satisfying.

It's hard to stop repeating how much I love this show, but I can't help it. I love this show. The way the music also adds to every scene is quite ingenious, when you hear a song like Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis when Chuck is flashing back to his Stanford days it doesn't just get you humming the song but it permanently becomes a part of the Chuck universe. Much like life, we have songs that we can play and it takes you back to a time when you first heard it. The song will remind you of a particular person or a time and place - Chuck gives us songs that create a moment for us to remember and it's fantastic. I can't hear Don't look back in Anger without thinking about Chuck. And that is awesome.

When I watch this episode I am also tempted to play Zork, the computer game. I have never played it but Chuck Bartowski seems to love it so it must be good, right? When there are scenes in the Buy More, I like to look and see what's sitting on the shelves, In this episode I can see many copies of World of Warcraft and we even get a mention of Jill's favorite game Everquest in the Stanford flashbacks. It makes me wonder how big of fans of Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Games Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz are? They are Nerds after all.

Download the Podcast episode: S1Ep7 Vs The Alma Mater

This is also one of those Chuck episodes that is just loaded with great songs, as previously mentioned we have Don't look back in Anger -- Oasis, and Chelsea Dagger -- The Fratellis, Trendsetter -- Goose, Drama Queen -- Switches and Maneater -- Hall and Oates.

Again here is a Review by Alan Sepinwall in which he seemed to be rather grumpy about the whole trip to Stanford. I just don't get it guys but I am a Chuck apologist after all. What do I know? Eric Goldman's Review was more like it, he really digs Chuck Mythology episodes and it's very interesting to read his interpretation that Chuck was really good at interpreting encoded information and the reasons why Bryce may have sent the Intersect to him? Chuck could handle it. Also let's not forget AV Club's review, don't you just love the comments section? To each his own.

I love the way the series keeps dropping little hints at future story threads like Jill the ex-girlfriend and even Chucks natural gift at being able to store a massive amount of information.

I hope that you guys are digging The Chuck Series Companion and now I have to do some begging. Please go to iTunes and Rate and Review the Podcast. I would very much appreciate it. I want the podcast to show up when people search for the word, 'Chuck' and right now it doesn't. Do people still use iTunes? Apparently somebody does so do me a favor and review the show for me. I want Chucksters and new Chuck fans alike to be able to find the show and you can help.

It's funny how excited I get after I post a new episode, I'm usually tired and mentally exhausted from editing when I realize, 'Hey tomorrow, I can watch the next episode of Chuck and start all over!' This really is a lot of fun expressing my enthusiasm for the show episode to episode and I can't wait to do it again.

Until next time.

The Jastrom

Friday, March 13, 2015

S1Ep6 Vs The Sandworm -- The Chuck Series Companion

This Episode of the Chuck Series Companion covers Season One Episode Six of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck versus The Sandworm - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe and Review on iTunes!

S1Ep6 Vs The Sandworm

Chuck vs The Sandworm

I would like to thank Christopher of Chuckaholics for writing this cool post about The Chuck Series Companion. Thank you so much Christopher. He has also created a very cool Chuck Social Site where fans of Chuck can talk about our favorite show, it's very cool. Check it out!

Just like Chuck, when Laszlo shows up, I want to believe him. I want to trust him. The idea that the CIA took him in when he was too young to know better and kept him against his will deep underground in a think tank where he invented many incredible spy gadgets is totally believable. When Laszlo's handler shows up he seems like a sleazy guy played by Rick Hoffman from the Show Suits who knows how to do smarmy well. When the CIA Handler mentions that Laszlo is off his meds and planning on using a bomb it's where some doubt finally creeps in.

Chuck's penchant for trusting the wrong person is not something I hold against him, like Sarah says, trusting people doesn't make you stupid, it makes him Chuck. That's one of the themes of Chuck, how the spy life will change him. I think part of the appeal for me and this show is how I identify with Chuck. Chuck's not cynical, he's a good guy who's been thrown into a crazy situation and while he will act scared and he will run for dear life, there's a part of him that is very heroic. As a Kid, I would watch big screen heroes and wish I could react that way, like Indiana Jones or John McClane and jump into action at a moment's notice, never overreacting. Ha! Yeah, that's not very likely, I'm going to act like a frightened lunatic, that's just the way it is. Chuck's like me and hopefully I would be just as heroic. There's a natural instinct you see in Chuck at least once per episode where his smarts pay off in a big way. This week when Laszlo armed the Home Theater Strategic Air Command console, Chuck knew that he needed to quickly distract Laszlo with the idea of watching another Bond Film. Part of me thinks that Laszlo had no intention of actually doing anything with the system but merely scaring Chuck or impressing him. It's hard to really know what his true intentions were, the dude was nuts.

I liked the idea of the CIA Gadget Guy being an immature kid with a medication problem, one who identified way too much with Bond villains and I kinda wish he showed up later in the Chuck series but we can always remember Laszlo when a spy gadget shows up wondering if it was indeed one of Laszlo's many creations. Speaking of immature, we also have Morgan, the champion of Mystery Crisper, when Morgan goes hunting for Whale Tail Chuck has no choice but to scold Morgan in front of everyone. It may have pissed Morgan off but it also got him to want to change, he gets help from Devon in the form of tucking his shirt in and putting product in his hair which surprisingly does wonders for him. He sticks up for Chuck with the Buy More H.R. Guy and pleads with the guy to please promote Chuck and not God forbid, Harry Tang.

Download the Podcast Episode: S1Ep6 Vs The Sandworm

So Chuck learns that while he saw some similarities between him and Laszlo, they were nothing alike. Laszlo had Agent Smarmy-Pants and Chuck has Sarah and we will learn that makes a huge difference. Chuck could have easily been like Laszlo deep in a bunker waiting to flash on whatever files they put in front of him. Thank goodness for Sarah Walker.

This episode had a great song by the band Editors - Weight of the World and there was also Finley Quaye featuring Beth Orton - Dice and more

Here's a Review of Sandworm by Alan Sepinwall and another by Eric Goldman, check these out, I find their early takes on what Chuck was to be fascinating and the AV Club Review. Equally fascinating are the comment sections after the reviews where people were either falling in love with Chuck or being annoyed by Morgan. Speaking of loving Chuck and Morgan, that bromance scene at the end of the episode was hilarious and I read much later that it was a gag if you will on a scene from another series by Josh Schwartz called The O.C. Here is the scene and here is the Chuck scene. It is pretty funny, they even used the same song Dice.

Again, it's been great doing the Chuck Series Companion, I have to remind myself with each episode that I can only think about one at a time or I begin to feel a little overwhelmed. It's also pretty neat focusing on each episode this way, it adds something new by feeling each episode out individually, thinking about what I like about each one etc.

Until next time.

The Jastrom

Thursday, March 5, 2015

S1Ep5 Vs The Sizzling Shrimp -- The Chuck Series Companion

Covering Season One of The Television Series Chuck, Chuck versus The Sizzling Shrimp - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! Subscribe and Review give a Star Rating on iTunes!

S1Ep5 Vs The Sizzling Shrimp

Chuck vs The Sizzling Shrimp

Is Chuck a procedural or a serial drama? It's a hybrid we know of course, it's a comedy/action/drama but could you also call it a serial/procedural? I don't think you would ever describe Chuck as a procedural. When you hear that word you think of Cops solving crimes, arresting criminals. On Chuck they have Spy Missions and from week to week they go on many different adventures stopping an assorted array of Bad Guys. But I wouldn't call it procedural. When I hear that word I almost think of it in a negative light, sure a procedural can be fun, I've watched many in my life and some of them can be great but I almost think of it as also meaning 'Formulaic' and Chuck is anything but formulaic (but maybe that's my own baggage I am bringing to the word). Eventually big grand story arcs begin on the series and it becomes much more of a serial I think.

I would describe Chuck versus the Sizzling Shrimp as a stand alone episode. The Story of Mei-Ling Chinese Super Spy trying to save her brother. Now if this episode would have been a set up of Mei-Ling returning later in the series I would say it was the cool set-up episode to a very interesting character, but instead it's a stand alone storyline. We never hear from Mei-Ling again which is a shame. What this episode is really about is Siblings. Chuck has to lie to Ellie on a regular basis now, he can make plans with her but when a spy mission comes up he has to lie to her about why he stood her up. It's just the beginning of this tearing him apart. He starts out with rather innocent lies and he's not very good at it but his Sister would have no reason to believe otherwise, he's Chuck after all.

From Morgan's point of view, he wants an 'Evening of Morgan' with Chuck and Sarah. He wants to see what Sarah is bringing to this relationship, he knows Chuck really likes Sarah but I think he also wants to protect Chuck. He's bummed his friend is always busy now and you can catch little things he says to Ellie like, "Let's force Chuck to break up with Sarah, who needs her." He then shrugs it off that he's just kidding but you know part of him really does wish it would go back to normal. He wishes it was just him and Chuck again. But that's the way it goes, your friend falls in love and you see less of them. It's just the way it is and I think Morgan will have to come to accept that in time. It's funny when I have watched this episode in the past I always wonder when Morgan is trying to get Chuck to find the time to help him with his sales 'Why doesn't he just do it right now?' but I know that wouldn't be great storytelling haha.

This episode also had a cool Hong Kong Cinema flare to it, with Mei-Ling dual wielding pistols blasting a nightclub full of baddies. She's pretty bad ass and again I would have liked to have seen her again in the series. Oh well, I guess I can just write some Mei-Ling fan fiction. I kid, I kid. This episode also had a really cool Big Trouble in Little China reference, Actor James Hong! How cool is it that he plays Ben Lo Pan, I wonder if he's related to David Lo Pan? One of my favorite things about Chuck is how they work in cool movie references, whether this one is subtle or not I will let you decide, I just thought it was neat.

Download the Episode: S1Ep5 Vs The Sizzling Shrimp

The Chuck Series Companion is now on iTunes so feel free to subscribe and also do me a favor and give the show a Star Rating and a Review. The more reviews the better it shows up when people search for Chuck. My theory is that people who are now discovering Chuck will then look for a Chuck podcast. Hey, I said it was in theory, after all I did that very thing.

This episodes musical selection was very special because this episode made me discover the great band Rogue Wave -- Lake Michigan, There's also the really cool song by the band Envelopes -- Sister in Love which plays when Ellie is helping Morgan out by buying lots of stuff at the Buy More. Also who doesn't love them some Hall and Oates -- Private Eyes? And the rest.

I want to personally thank Adam Howard and Erik Battaglia for the cool new podcast logo, Adam asked his buddy Erik if he could make it and he did but good. Thanks a lot guys! Also check out my buddy Adam Sexton's podcast 'The Past and the Pending' on his latest show he plugged My show so I thought I would return the favor.

Here is Sizzling Shrimp's Alan Sepinwall review which I think is a good read, also check out Eric Goldman's who is much more picky of this episode but you can't win em' all and last but certainly not least is AV Club's review.

I hope you enjoy this episode as I had a lot of fun recording it and I have to admit I am getting the hang of this thing. I would really like to keep up the One Episode a Week mission but lots of things were against me last week, so I'll just hope to do one a week and if I can't no big deal I will just get it done when I can. I hope you guys are along for the ride. Until then.

The Jastrom