32. Chuck: Season 2 (2008-2009)

It’s Got: Chevy Chase vs. Scott Bakula, Missile Command + Rush, Ellie and Awesome’s wedding, the 3D episode.

This series holds a special place in my heart. If someone had come to me as a teenager and said “Make any show you want,” it would have been pretty close to Chuck. It’s about a geeky guy who gets superpowers and then has a total hottie fall in love with him. It somehow fuses both James Bond-y spy elements and 24-esque terrorist threats, while managing to keep a consistently light tone. It’s also a pretty funny Office-like workplace comedy. And the guest cast is a who’s-who of nerd icons.

The show is also formulaic as all hell. During the second season, I tuned in every week. And every week, I thought “The fun is going to wear off sooner or later.” Chuck flashes on someone, he’s briefed by the General, he goes undercover to look for the bad guy, it goes wrong, the bad guy follows Chuck back to the Buy More, big confrontation, Chuck and Sarah lament that they can’t get together, all interspersed with wacky antics from Morgan and the other co-workers. You could set your watch by it.

The fun did eventually wear off. But not in the second season. Even with twenty two episodes, Chuck always found a new angle. It was another example of Comfort TV, you knew what you were going to get, but they somehow kept things new all year long. If anything, the show kept topping itself. At least six times this season, I found myself thinking “Ok, THAT was my new favourite episode.”

Not only was Chuck a lot of fun, but somehow, it inserted actual narrative tension into the last half dozen episodes. This isn’t really a show about life or death, but it did manage to put something else at stake: Chuck’s happiness. Thanks to Zachary Levi’s winning performance, Chuck was so damn likeable, and towards the end of the season, the stress of his double life began to take a serious toll on him. I was really rooting for him, and the show wasn’t afraid to toss a lot of game changing events into his life.

In summation, Season 2 is incredibly entertaining, consistent TV. I recently had a great time revisiting my favourite episodes, it really reminded me of why we fought so damn hard to keep this show on the air for five years.

If I Had to Nitpick… I always like the Chuck/Morgan friendship, and there’s far less of it in this season than any other. It’s all about Chuck, Sarah, and Casey from beginning to end.

Notable Episodes: “Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer” is the first of several instances in which the show hit some kind of geeky nirvana. “Chuck vs. Santa Claus,” a Die Hard riff complete with cameo from Al Powell, was way more intense than it had any right to be. “Chuck vs. The Predator” upped the stakes while not sacrificing the show’s sense of fun. The penultimate episode, “Chuck vs. the Colonel” was momentous enough to be a series finale, and “Chuck vs. the Ring” managed to up the ante even more.

#33 | THE LIST | #31

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