Monday, 23 August 2010
Why are you letting Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian wreck your wedding?
There was a time not too terribly long ago when I was threatening to set people's houses on fire if they didn't start watching Chuck. Which: fine, arson is bad, whatever, I get it. But what's worse is that Chuck has been on the bubble from the word "Vicky Vale," and I would rather eat Dickensian gruel in prison ("NO TOUCHING!") for arson than be forced to watch the best show on television get replaced by an hour of reality programming where a washed-up comedian dispenses marriage advice to couples in the manner of a screechy Dr. Phil.
(You people who don't watch scripted TV are the problem with the world; you know that, right?)
This week we're writing about what television show we're most excited about for fall, and there's a very real chance that Abigail is going to write about Chuck tomorrow too, and so I considered being selfless and choosing the show I'm second most excited about (Parks and Recreation), but even if Abigail does write about Chuck, I figure she's coming at it from a whole different angle than me. What I'm saying is you might get to read about Chuck two whole days this week — three if Ashley takes the torch and weaves some word magic — and for that you are welcome.
So, look, here's the thing about television: not a whole lot of shows just tell good stories anymore. It's kind of like Congress, actually: as soon as you get elected, you start campaigning for reelection; you never really govern. And so television is about selling ad space and generating social media buzz and creating a thousand Kidz Bob! singles that people will buy and listen to while reading the show's companion novel and licking on a Puck-shaped popsicle. (It's like I can't not clown on Glee.)
But Chuck is different. Maybe because it's almost always getting canceled. Maybe because it's a show written by nerds for nerds. Maybe because it's a Josh Scwartz machine. Maybe because it's a perfect storm of all those things. I don't know. All I know is that Chuck tells some damn good stories. Chuck's writers are not afraid to do things in a fresh way, to blend absurdity and angst and action, to laugh at their characters, to laugh at you. They're not afraid to scoff at the Moonlighting curse, or to change relationship dynamics, or explore character motivations that will alter the entire trajectory of the show. There's no tiptoeing around cancellation in Chuck-verse; the show always runs full throttle at a cliff and leaps.
The result of that kind of recklessly awesome storytelling is fun and sweet and clever, and it's like nothing you've ever seen before. Sometimes it makes me shout in the TV in a good way and sometimes it makes me shout at my TV in an angry way and sometimes it makes me jump out of my chair and practice my ninja moves.
I write about a lot of TV. I recap a lot of TV. But I just absolutely refuse to get paid to write about Chuck, because for one hour every week on Monday nights, I remember why I fell in love with TV in the first place — back before my inbox was flooded with press releases and my calendar was full of actor interviews and the only people who cared what I thought about plot lines were Amy and Abigail. It makes me feel like when I was 14, chewing on my fingers in front of a twelve-inch screen swooning over Lois and Clark.
Chuck is everything that's right with TV.
And Jeffster is everything that's right with the world.
(If you don't think Sarah Walker knife-fighting and Bryce Larkin making a slow-mo entrance are the sexiest things in this life, I don't think we can be friends anymore.)
Posted by Heather Anne Hogan at 12:48 pm