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Entry updated 20 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (2007-2012). College Hill Pictures and Warner Bros. Television for NBC. Created by Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz. Producers include Fedak, Schwartz, Ben Kunde, McG, and Matthew Miller. Writers include Fedak, Schwartz, Miller, Alison Adler, and Phil Klemmer. Directors include Robert Duncan McNeill, Alan Kroeker, Patrick R Norris, Jeremiah S Chechik, and Peter Lauer. Cast includes Zachary Levi as Chuck Bartowski, Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker, Adam Baldwin as John Casey, Sarah Lancaster as Ellie Bartowski, Ryan McPartlin as Devon Woodcomb, Joshua Gomez as Morgan Grimes, Vik Sahay as Lester Patel, Scott Krinsky as Jeff Barnes, Julia Ling as Anna Wu, Mark Christopher Lawrence as Big Mike, and Bonita Friedericy as General Beckman. 91 one-hour episodes.

Sf spy comedy, whose pilot sees the title character, a college drop-out who lives with his sister and her boyfriend, works at the tech support desk at a big box electronics store, and spends most of his free time with his even more socially inept best friend playing Videogames and reading Comics, receiving an email from his college roommate containing the database of that Intersect, a top-secret government supercomputer (see Computers), which implants itself in his brain. Chuck becomes a government asset and must lead a double life, maintaining his unsatisfying persona as a loser with no prospects while also going on Bondesque spy missions and battling villainous organizations with names like Fulcrum and The Ring, aided by the beautiful but deadly Sarah, with whom he immediately conceives an infatuation, and the gruff, hyper-patriotic Casey.

In its early episodes, Chuck is a silly but entertaining diversion, often elevated by Levi and Baldwin's excellent comic timing, whose genre appeal is rooted not only in its sf premise but in the fact that the main character and his friends are devoted genre fans themselves, whose ideas of heroism and spying are derived from Star Wars and James Bond movies. Most episodes feature a subplot in which Chuck's friends and colleagues (Gomez, Sahay, Krinsky, Ling, and Lawrence) misconstrue his behavior and involve themselves in his spy life, often saving the day through a combination of luck and their geekish interests. This is too thin a plot to weather much repetition, however, especially as the show's mythology has grown more convoluted – it is revealed that the friend who sent Chuck the Intersect had been manipulating and directing his life for years, that his father (Scott Bakula) created the Intersect, and that his as-yet unseen mother has some connection to the spy life. Nevertheless, Chuck, though never a ratings hit, has gained a loyal and voluble cult following among genre fans, presumably because of its triumph of the geek narrative. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the portrait it paints of geekishness is very much of the No Girls Allowed variety, with female characters' roles often limited to rolling their eyes at the men's incomprehensible interests. [AN]


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