The espionage category of film and television is ripe with content. Not all of it is great; in fact, much of it is dubious in quality. It’s pretty difficult to be innovative with a constrained genre like espionage. Any moderately successful production attempts to do one of two things: either pack it with explosions and other kinds of action-packed eye candy, or fill it with laughter inducing plot spins and dialogue.
A very successful production does one of these very well, and even more successful one does both. I’ve rarely seen either of them being done very well recently. Sure, the 2008 Get Smart was able to fill these criterion decently well, but I’ve searched and searched for television shows that fill at least one of these criteria and can only find ones from the 1960s and 1970s. That said, I have temporarily stopped my search since finding NBC’s Chuck, which is currently in its third season. While it’s not perfect, it not only appeals to the espionage aficionado in me, but also my inner nerd.
Meet Chuck Bartowski. Who is Chuck? Look in the mirror and you’ve found Chuck, or at least part of him. Guys and girls alike will see themselves in Chuck. Whether it is his aptitude for technology, love of videogames, credentials as an engineer, or his inability to act normally during social encounters, you will appreciate Chuck during every frame he is on the screen. Zachary Levi plays the role of Chuck Bartowski admirably, but if Chuck is not enough of a character to entice you, maybe Sarah Walker will be—I know she is enough for me.
Meet Sarah Walker. Who is Sarah? She sure isn’t in the mirror, or at least not in mine. Imagine a person as strong as she is smart and as smart as she is beautiful. Sure she’s as inept as Chuck is when it comes to her emotions, but years as the top CIA operative in the country has taught her how to fake it. Yvonne Strahovski merely needed three days in the United States to land her role as Sarah Walker in Chuck. I can see why, she’s an excellent actress who is extremely beautiful, and boy, do the producers of the show flaunt it. Throughout the show, Chuck’s producers take any chance to show off her beauty.
Meet John Casey. Who is John? If Sarah wasn’t in the mirror, John sure won’t be. Chuck and Sarah are both admirable characters, but what initially got me interested in Chuck was John Casey. Played by Adam Baldwin, who has gained a cult following with his role as Jayne Kobb in Firefly and Serenity, John Casey is a no-nonsense cold-blooded NSA field agent with a particular love for assassinations.
With John Casey’s help, Chuck has gained a great balance between being action-packed full of laughs. From the get go, watching Chuck has been a course in nostalgia. The drama between Sarah and Chuck is oddly familiar, and it is for this reason that it is incredibly funny. But film needs to offer its viewers something more than what they already experience in their ordinary life. The teamwork of John Casey and Sarah Walker obliges. Whether it’s while showcasing their hand to hand combat abilities, or their aptitude with firearms and knives, the duo never ceases to impress. Chuck is an espionage show that has meshed in a way I never thought one could. It’s not a James Bond movie, but that’s what makes it so good.
Like I said earlier, Chuck appeals to the nerd in me, and it will probably appeal to you as well. As far as I’m concerned, everyone who accepts their admission to RPI is an nerd through and through. So give this delight a try, and you will not be disappointed.