Friday, July 31, 2015

S2Ep5 Vs Tom Sawyer -- The Chuck Series Companion

This Episode of The Chuck Series Companion covers Season Two Episode Five of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck versus Tom Sawyer - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

S2Ep5 Vs Tom Sawyer

Chuck versus Tom Sawyer

WWCD indeed. What would Chuck do? That's the question that was on the mind of Lester Patel during his interview with Efficiency expert Emmett Milbarge in the break-room of the Buy More. What would Chuck do? He'd save the world, that's what he'd do! Wow, what an episode. One of my favorites because of the way the weight of what Chuck does kind of passes you by and then you realize it's true, Chuck prevented World War 3. Now it's possible Casey could have shot down the Satellite but that didn't guarantee success, in fact it didn't guarantee that there wouldn't be casualties. What was it the General Beckman said? "Acceptable Civilian Casualties", but not acceptable to Chuck.

Now much of this episode Chuck has his sister Ellie on his case about the things that he said recently. Chuck said he wanted more than the Buy More, he wanted to Backpack and get a Euro-pass. He wanted to do more with his life. Ellie and Devon are wondering what happened to all of the things he said. Chuck can't explain to them that the Intersect was not removed from his head so he is still obligated to serve his country. All Chuck can do is assure her that he is alright and that everything he said he wanted to do, he still wants to do. He does want more but the Intersect and his life as a Spy seem to want to steer him in another direction.

As for Jeff Barnes Buy More employee, he steered his life into binge drinking and taking it easy a long time ago, but a remnant from his old life has crept up. I love the opening of the episode where Jeff has two bikini-clad ladies on his arms ala Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Another call back to Fast Times right after the use of Mark Ratner in Chuck versus The Cougars. I'm thinking that the Chuck writers really love that movie, and who wouldn't? I watch it every single time it's on television. ("I hope you had a hell of a piss, Arnold!") Jeff is asked what he's going to do next and he has no answer, he has too many tasty options. So instead he chose to do nothing.

I think what's interesting about Chuck's dilemma is that it looks like he's doing nothing too, but as Sarah says, Chuck is like a Duck, it looks like he's just gliding along the water but underneath his little feet are paddling away. Chuck wants to do so many things but the Intersect is keeping him from doing them but at the same time because of the Intersect, Chuck is doing so many things. Heroic things. Is Chuck a hero because of the Intersect or is he a hero because of the way he uses the Intersect? We know that Chuck is a good person, all of the Buy More employees look up to him. Emmet Milbarge wants to know what makes Chuck so special. By the way, Tony Hale as Emmett is fantastic. I love what a brown-nosing creep he is and I love his reaction to the Missle Command exhibition in the Buy More, "This is an abomination."

I think it's safe to say I'm a sucker for an 80's flashback with a retro arcade game front and center, the use of Missile Command was ingenious. The creator of Missile Command once built a Military Satellite that controlled missiles. I love it! He even hid the code to arm the satellite in the very game he created, Missle Command. The only way to retrieve the code would be to beat the game and unlock the Kill Screen. To learn more about Kill Screens, watch the documentary called, The King of Kong: a Fistfull of Quarters, it's filled with 80's Arcade Game greatness and it obviously influenced this episode. Also Missle Command is actually a really fun but very hard game to play. I even remember enjoying the Atari 2600 version. How great was it when Chuck, Casey and Sarah infiltrated Atari Headquarters? I loved the snobby programmers not wanting Chuck's help. Jerks. Sarah's moment of distraction was perfect as Chuck was soon shoved into Morimoto's office. Whoever did the set design did a great job with all of the robots and dinosaurs etc.

Listen to the Podcast Episode: S2Ep5 Vs Tom Sawyer

                                                         She's my muse

I can't forget to mention one of the best parts of the episode is when Chuck has to hang out with Jeff. Jeff shows Chuck his video he made that shows his appreciation for Anna Wu while All out of Love by Air Supply plays in the background. His Muse. Hilarious. I love when Jeff puts in his old VHS tape and Chuck prays that it's not a porno. So funny and we can't soon forget 'My Name is Jeff and I'm Lost'.

Again we had some great use of music, Tom Sawyer by Rush turns out to not only be the way to beat Missile Command because of the underlying math involved, it's also the "Music of the Universe" as Morimoto says. He even makes Chuck a believer. The music that sent this episode over the top though was The Touch by Stan Bush, now that just brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it with it's cheesy 80's goodness. The Touch was in Transformers The (animated) Movie from 1986 and it rocks. We also get a great song at the end of the episode when Chuck and Sarah watch the satellite burn in earth's atmosphere and Sarah explains to Chuck that he earned his degree from Stanford with all of the hard work he's done with her and Casey, Sleep Driving by Grand Archives.

Here is Alan Sepinwall's recap of Tom Sawyer and also check out Eric Goldman's recap, they both really seemed to enjoy the episode except for Sepinwall having a problem with Chuck being able to carry Jeff in his arms because Chuck is supposed to be a weakling. Ookay. My favorite part of recaps though comes from the comment sections. Be sure and check those out for the historical documents that they are.

Well that's it, Chuck saved the day, Sarah believes in him and Ellie is off his back. Jeff seems to be fine with Chuck having the Missile Command record, in fact I'm pretty sure he saw the kill screen himself that night, he doesn't need to hold the record anymore, he doesn't care about that, he even says, "When you're on top, everyone is gunning for you." Chuck couldn't agree more but I think Jeff just wants to take it easy. Don't we all. This is one of those episodes of Chuck that makes me giddy, it has everything you'd want. A good example of what makes an episode of Chuck great is when Jeff passes out from the pressure being put on him and Chuck worries that World War 3 is about to start, he urges his sister to leave town to no avail. It's a serious moment that conveys Chuck's desperation but then caps it off with Ellie and Devon suspecting he may be on drugs and then what do we do? We laugh. The way this show balances drama and humor is one of the reasons that I love it so much. Damn, I really love this show.

Until then...

The Jastrom

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

S2Ep4 Vs The Cougars -- The Chuck Series Companion

Covering Season Two Episode Four of The Television Series Chuck, Chuck versus The Cougars - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

S2Ep4 Vs The Cougars

Chuck versus The Cougars

Go Cougars! We knew that Sarah Walker had secrets but we never suspected that she had an awkward phase. Sarah was once upon a time little Jenny Burton, replete with braces a bad complexion and that hair! Good lord, man. With all of that said, it was very interesting to see that Sarah had a pretty crappy childhood. Her Dad got arrested and all she had was a box of cash buried in the woods. How did she turn into Super-Spy Sarah after all of that? We'll get to that.

When Heather Chandler and Mark Ratner show up, it was great seeing how excited Chuck was to find out something, anything about Sarah. She didn't like it much though as the picture on her dresser will attest to.

Poor Sarah, she now had to attend her High School Reunion, a place filled with bad memories. Chuck sure was enjoying himself though, how great was that moment when he sees Sarah's old class picture? Priceless, "It's not that bad." He says, yeah right. We all have an embarrassing class picture out there somewhere, so we can identify.

So Lester's big idea is to let the customer name their price? Like Morgan says, it's a bad idea but so much fun to watch. My favorite scene though is Lester's panic trying to add up the dollar amount. He repeatedly yells at the adding machine, "Is this thing broken? No! No!" I'm sorry Lester but what did you expect? I don't think we're supposed to use logic here, it is the Buy More and in the Buy More we get shenanigans. I loved the old 80's movie staple of throwing a huge party and charging cover to make some much needed cash. Hello Empire Records and PCU among others. It's a great idea and since this episode is all about High School and nostalgia, what better way to re-visit this scenario than a rockin' kegger?

Listen to the Podcast Episode: S2Ep4 Vs The Cougars

How great was John Casey, DJ? He spins Mmmbop by Hanson on vinyl like no one's business. I loved when Sarah kicked Dick Duffy in the head in the parking lot and she admitted that she was working out some childhood issues. By far the best though was the big Heather Chandler shower fight to the song Smack My Bitch Up by Prodigy. This episode had some interesting music for sure as Chuck episodes tend to do but this one had lots of 'embarrassing because you liked it music' (not me though, I never liked Hanson!) like Tubthumping by Chumbawumba (I explain why I hate this song on the podcast) and Everybody (Backstreet's Back) by (sigh) The Backstreet Boys (Why God, why?). Here is the rest of the music from Cougars.

You should know the drill by now, I have some episode recaps to share with you -- The first one comes from Alan Sepinwall. His Cougars Recap is a bit nitpicky but overall he enjoyed it. He's still way too hard on Yvonne Strahovski and her fight scenes. In Eric Goldman's Recap he seems to dig everything except for the whole Buy More scenario. He doesn't believe that even Lester could be that dumb. Are you sure about that? That reminds me that I love the moment that Lester and Morgan share in Big Mikes office. Morgan hung Norman the Marlin up just in time and his kind words made Lester tear up. It was hilarious and touching just in time for Lester to quit under the pressure of being an Ass-Man. Perhaps the new assistant manager will provide even more laughs? (Indeed!)

I love when Chuck brings Sarah a raw burger for her face, and then wants to split one with her. Sarah gives him the opportunity to ask her anything and he passes on it as he knows this has been a rough episode for her (Wait, does Chuck know they're in a TV show? Mind Blown). We then get to see how the now deceased Director Graham recruited a young Jenny Burton and made her Sarah Walker, we see that she already had some skills. She had many aliases and was pretty damn good with a blade. This is the beginning of Sarah's backstory and I love it. Sarah Walker is one of my favorite characters ever and it's a joy seeing how she transforms throughout the series.

Well this was the 17th episode of the Chuck Series Companion Podcast and it's cool to see the little library of shows that is growing. Seventeen episodes is nothing though, I have 74 to go. The reason I mention this is because I took a little break between this and the previous episode. There may be times when I will have to take a break for whatever reason and I hope that listeners bare with me and stick with the show. Because I am dedicated to this podcast and blog and I will not quit until I have covered every single episode of Chuck. It will take awhile but this isn't a race, I'm going to take my time and enjoy it.

Until Then...

The Jastrom