Saturday, May 9, 2015

Chuck versus The First Date

For a brief moment, Chuck Bartowski thinks that he is getting his life back. In that time he jumps around on his bed to Hip to be Square by Huey Lewis and the News and promptly asks Sarah Walker out on a date. She accepts and they are off to dinner. They have a wonderful moment together as Chuck throws many compliments her way (just look at her face as he talks, she eats it up). Sarah returns the favor agreeing with a self-mocking Chuck. Sarah tells Chuck that he can achieve anything and she believes in him. Not even Sarah knows that Casey has been tasked to eliminate Chuck once the new Intersect is activated.

John Casey puts up with Chuck because it's his assignment but after many missions, Chuck has also shown him that he is worthy of his respect and that he has served his country with honor. Director Graham tells Casey that Chuck will also have to die for his country. Ouch.

Fortunately those pesky guys at Fulcrum planted a bomb in the Cipher causing the new intersect to explode along with Graham. Chuck is now safe and he never knew his life was even in danger. With Chuck still the Intersect, he knows that Sarah goes back to being his Handler and the possibilities of being his real girlfriend and backpacking across Europe are now a distant pipe dream. Sigh.

What a great premiere episode for Season Two. I have said it before that Season Two is perhaps my favorite season of Chuck, but I am also a Chuck apologist, I could easily fight for each season and win that argument with myself that Season Three, Four and Five have their moments too. I think I love how Chuck starts to gain confidence in this season, you even see it in this very episode, when Chuck stalls Colt (played by the late and great Michael Clark Duncan), when he wants to snap Chuck's neck. Chuck as he's done in the past, thinks fast on his feet when he needs to and pretends that Morgan's Call of Duty plans are in fact, a team outside ready to storm the hideout and take Colt and his men down. At the end of the episode, Chuck commands the bad guys to drop their weapons and they comply. Look at Sarah's face, not only is she very surprised to find him alive after being dropped off the roof (in a spectacular sequence that is sold with Sarah's reaction) but also at his command of the situation. He is taking what she told him earlier to heart. Chuck can do anything if he puts his mind to it.

I love when a distracted Chuck puts Morgan in charge of finding a new assistant manager, Morgan is as shocked as we are. His idea to have the candidates fight it out in a Thunderdome is both hilarious and ridiculous in a way that only the tv show that is Chuck can get away with. Anything can happen in the Buy More and that's why we love the Buy More. God bless the Buy Morons. I also love Jeff's creepy resume'. Hilarious.

Listen to the Podcast Episode: S2Ep1 Vs The First Date

This first episode of Season Two was jam packed with songs, The Power of Love -- Huey Lewis and the News, Returning to the Fold -- The Thermals, Dropped -- Phantom Planet, Foux Du Fafa -- Flight of the Conchords and The Twist -- Frightened Rabbit. Lots of fantastic songs, I especially loved the way they used Huey Lewis songs to show both pure joy and pure sadness for Chuck.

With recaps of this episode the first one I want to show you is written by Writer, Maureen Ryan. She had already seen the first three episodes of season two and was very excited to report that she was pleased with the Chuck momentum out of the gate. Here is Alan Sepinwall's Recap of First Date and you can see that he's pleased with the fight choreography in this episode. This guy is really obsessed with fight choreography. Finally, here is Eric Goldman's Recap, he admired the way the episode reintroduced the series to potential new viewers and viewers who could have possibly forgotten after such a long hiatus. I've said it before, it's not necessary to read any of these recaps but I found them to be fun when I was re-watching Chuck (the first and second and third times). I also got a kick out of the comment sections, seeing what viewers thought of the episodes. Usually I would get annoyed after awhile at the nitpicky ones and close my browser in disgust.

I think part of the excitement I am getting out of re-living this series is the nostalgia of when it first aired. In 2007, 2008 my daughter was three and four years old. I was still learning to be a stay at home Dad and it was a very happy time in my life that I look back on fondly. Chuck was there for me at that same time that I was learning to be a Father and I think that is part of where my love for this series comes from. Wow, right as I typed that, I literally hadn't thought of that before. Maybe doing this blog really is helping me understand not just more about myself but about why I love this show so much. When I was looking for videos to remind me of my excitement of Season Two, I found this video on Youtube by Kristin of the E! Network. This was a video she shot, no doubt on her phone at the Chuck Comicon Panel where they previewed Season Two. I love hearing the audience reactions and I find the cheering to be infectious. Check it out HERE!

Well that's it for now, this is only the beginning. Thank you so much for reading this post and I hope that you continue to follow me on my journey in re-watching and podcasting every episode of Chuck.

Until then...

The Jastrom


  1. High energy right from the start with Chuck spilling the beans on who he is to Michael Clark Duncan's character Colt (the first of several solid to great guest stars this season) followed by Sarah and Casey crashing through the door. Chuck’s narration again uses the line "Believe me, I know" when introducing the stunning Sarah Walker, same as he did in the S1E2 narration, complete with a flashback to the S1E2 sighting of Sarah outside the Weinerlicious when the line was used before. And Casey delivering laughs doesn't waste any time. Does anyone say “Moron” and “Geek” in a more entertaining way than Adam Baldwin as Casey? I don’t think so. Within the first few minutes of the episode we have an enjoyable action sequence with Colt, some humor from Casey, a warm moment between Chuck and Sarah in the courtyard, and then the quick flip to Casey getting the kill order from Beckman. All before the opening credits; a great start that promises a great episode.

    I don’t know if it was deliberate or just funny coincidence (likely deliberate), but I get a big laugh out of the scene cut from Chuck catching his sister and Devon in the shower ("I'm blind!") to a stunned Chuck eating breakfast with a box of cereal called “Nuts & More” on the table in front of him (nuts and more, indeed).

    Casey's unwillingness to do a half-ass job while in his Buy More cover is a humorous touch used a few times in the series. This episode isn’t the only time he’s hellbent on selling that Beastmaster grill.

    Weinerlicious replaced with Orange Orange? Hmmm. I don’t kn…[Sarah serves frozen yogurt in slo mo]…ok, I can work with this. :-)

    Casey’s wink to the photo of Ronald Reagan and then later apologizing to Reagan as he has to break the framed picture. Ha! Love it.

    The scene with Sarah and Chuck at the restaurant on their first real date with Chuck describing why she is out of his league and she complimenting him back is a highlight moment in the episode and another instance of the great onscreen chemistry between those two. It cannot be said enough: this series delivers the emotion and warmth without fail.

    “Is that a Crown Victoria?” And then Chuck’s rant at Casey about Casey’s bad “drive thru” wisecrack both got laughs out of me. This episode moves effortlessly from the relationship drama (Sarah and Chuck about to kiss in the restaurant), to action (Sarah's attempt to attack Colt and Casey crashing through the storefront with his car) to humor (the aforementioned Chuck lines).


  2. (I did it again, writing too much to fit into one comment. I'm going to have to dial back my rambling)

    If you pause the video you can catch Jeff’s napkin resume. On the right side it says “My co-workers have nice feet. I like to take picture [sic] of them. And then sell them.” Followed by a list of prices for Chuck, Anna and Morgan. Hard to beat Jeff for humorous creepiness.

    So Colt gets Chuck to his new hideout by calling for a Nerd Herd repair. You’d think Chuck would start developing a phobia for on-site calls after that ploy was used both by Casey and Carina. :-)

    What a great sequence of action, emotion and humor when Colt, dangling Chuck by his feet and with Sarah advancing, drops Chuck off the roof. The anguished scream from Sarah while, unknown to her, Casey is literally catching Chuck as he falls, then Chuck telling Casey he loves him (a reversal by Chuck who earlier, frustrated by still being stuck as the Intersect, snaps at Casey that he no longer wanted Casey around to (figuratively) catch him when he falls), to which Casey replies, "keep it in your pants, Bartowski."

    The last 6-7 minutes of the show are pretty potent, starting from the moment Beckman and Graham reiterate the kill order and Casey conflicted but accepting it. Then you have Casey entering Chuck’s apartment, the destruction of the Cipher and Graham with it, leading into Chuck’s anguish when Sarah tells him he is still the only Intersect, not knowing that this has just saved his life. Immediately cut to the next day with Chuck depressed at the Nerd Herd desk. That’s a lot of great story unfolding for the upcoming episodes to build off of. And finally a funny moment to fade out to (“Casey, ninety Twinkies in three minutes!” [Casey not interested, a little disgusted] “Jeff may die!” [Casey now highly interested and chases after Chuck and Morgan]).

    A fabulous episode that delivers the trifecta of Buy More comedy, spy thrills, and emotional drama exceptionally well. Oh yes, season two is glorious.