A nerd before the birth of TOS Red Shirts, I share my thoughts on genre media be it books, movies, TV shows, etc

Thursday, December 30, 2010

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.09: Marionette

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ODONTV - Podcast 3 - Holiday - 'End of the World' Episode - The Walking Dead S1

The third ODONTV podcast on the current state of TV!

Join me as I chat with Fellow Podcaster Mary Scavarda whom can be found online at True Blush Girls and on Twitter at - @mary3s

In addition Karen Lindsay whom can be found on Twitter as - @Aleveria and is a regular on the Chuck CNN podcasts. Karen is a big The Walking Dead fan. She gives us the perspective of a fan of the graphic novel versus the television adaptation.

We compare notes on the First Season of The Walking Dead and talk about the Second Season.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

CNN - 4.10: Chuck Vs The Leftovers

Welcome back gang!

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of CNN 4.10 - Chuck Vs The Leftovers



Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The Leftovers can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

Dalton Does It Better – Episode 4.10: Chuck Vs The Leftovers

Written by Henry Alonso Meyers

Directed by Zachary Levi

“Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you’re the best “

The Spy Who Loved Me

Carly Simon

Dalton. Timothy Dalton. Guest star extraordinaire.

In Chuck Vs Phase 3, Yvonne Strahovski elevated a solid episode storyline with her outstanding performance, turning it into the signature episode for the series.

Timothy Dalton gives a guest start performance that also soars to great heights. But he is not so fortunate on the storyline side. His performance takes place in an episode that disappointingly concurs with the episode title.

This is one of the funniest episodes of the season and, if you maintain a 50,000 foot view, the individual scenes do offer good laughs. The best bit by far was Chuck and Morgan taking defense lessons via a Strip Kick Aerobics class. Even better that there was payoff to that bit when Chuck used one of the class moves to take down a baddie later on. However, diving down to levels where more detail is revealed the mechanical nature of the plot and the recycling of bits from previous Chuck holiday episodes, including more Die Hard references, detract from the fun. Mileage on the laughs will vary from individual to individual but for myself this episode, when Dalton was not onscreen, felt forced.

By far the best element of this episode was Timothy Dalton. He dominated the screen every second he was on the screen. The now revealed volatile and erratic nature of the Volkoff allows Dalton to run roughshod over everyone. One second dashing. The next, incensed. Another beat; sensitive and caring. The next; commanding and violent. The fact that his Achilles Heel is MamaB is a rather cliche but Dalton exploits to its fullest. So much so, that when he is onscreen he obliterates everyone else. All they can do is stand back and hope Volkoff does not lash out at them. Volkoff is a certifiable loon and Dalton can be seen having a ball with the character because of it. His performance gave me that same vibe when I first saw Anthony Hopkins portray Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

* Ah a villain listening to classical music. Cliche but it always works
* Chuck Unplugged
* Strip Kick! ‘I saw an infomercial.’
* ‘Casey can never know about this.’
* ‘Come with me if you want to live.’ MamaB to the rescue
* Big Mike is so slick shilling Subway subs. Who can resist?
* ‘Who has two thumbs and is taken?’
* Morgan enjoying a foot massage a la Die Hard and the carpet trick.
* ‘Shave my back.’
* Volkoff’s Die Hard Assault Team
* Nerd Machine sticker on Volkoff’s computer expert’s laptop
* CIA Internal Defence System – not so special
* Fatman & Indian – the not so dynamic duo
* ‘Hand Frost the damn phone!’
* ‘I got lucky. I got assigned to you.’
* Casey gives Morgan a gun. Again.
* ‘Is that a threat?’
* Exploding Soccer Ball Of Doom
* ‘That’s how you threaten somebody.’
* Sarah and Chuck holding hands before going into battle
* ‘Charles is my son.’ Really? Really. Really? ….Really!
* ‘Kids love me!’
* Chuck and Sarah’s silent planning during charades
* Volkoff doing charades
* Devon needs to be Awesome. Again.
* ‘Cold. But surprisingly soothing.’
* ‘I don’t have to really do that. I just love the sound.’
* ‘You see. That is a real threat.’ MamaB protects her family.
* Morgan unable to reach taped gun
* Chuck knows Kung-Fu. Again.

With the totality of the spy arc pretty well revealed now, and we were told way back in Chuck Vs the Coup D’Etat that MamaB was a kept woman, Season 4 seems destined to be another season with another underwhelming spy storyline. At least in the first thirteen episodes. The saving element is, obviously, Timothy Dalton’s virtuoso, mesmerizing portrayal of Volkoff. To use the series’s best villain solely in the service of a kept woman storyline seems all the more the pity.

I fully disclose that my expectations of the Chuck being deIntersected arc not being realized undermine my enjoyment of this episode. But even from the perspective of judging what the show delivered, the resolution to said arc is undramatic, leaves many dangling – and somewhat contradictory plot threads, and offered no character growth for Chuck. He is literally handed the remedy via Devon. No struggle to reacquire it. No chances to show his mettle without it. No strengthening of family bonds. If anything Chuck was diminished during this arc. Chuck Vs The Couch Lock is my one of favourite episodes so far this season. It also one of the few episodes where Chuck felt like Chuck this season. Henry Alonso Meyers did not fare as well with this outing.

MamaB’s assertion that PapaB never wanted Chuck to be subjected to the Intersect Suppressing PSP does not ring true nor does her motivation. How leaving Chuck defenceless makes any character sense is impossible to ascertain given the paucity of details. There may be very valid reasons for what transpired but without any context, the reasons behind the creation of the PSP and the laptop, appear to serve only one purpose: as very mechanical story devices to facilitate the loss and retrieval of the Intersect. This is borne out by how the episode glosses over Chuck’s reacquisition of the Intersect. Will these questions be answered at a later date? Given some of the unresolved dangling story threads ie Devon giving Chuck the laptop which is expressly against Ellie’s wishes; the answer is not likely.

Even worse the deIntersect arc ends with Ellie still in the dark about Chuck spying and having the Intersect. With the PapaB heirlooms in the form of the car and the laptop, MamaB on the scene, Ellie’s impending motherhood, and the off season announcement that this is a season about family; this was the PERFECT time to bring Ellie into the know. Even more disappointment abounds; Chuck, Devon, and Ellie are back to lying and keeping secrets from one another. It is a writer’s maxim that writers should not give the fans what they want, they should give fans something better. I am hard pressed to envision a scenario that exceeds the possible payoff that was waiting to be realized in this episode.

All that aside, watch this episode to see Timothy Dalton’s performance. What a coup for the show in being able to cast him! His tenure on the show is a precious treat rarely seen on television.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.08: Entrada

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

ODONTV - Podcast 2 - A Chat With Fellow Podcaster Mary Scavarda

The second ODONTV podcast on the current state of TV!

Join me as I chat with Fellow Podcaster Mary Scavarda who can be found online at True Blush Girls and on Twitter at - @mary3s

We compare notes on Fringe, Chuck, Dexter, True Blood, SuperNatural, BoardWalk Empire, Terriers and a few others.

CNN - 4.09: Chuck Vs Phase 3

Welcome back gang!

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of CNN 4.09 - Chuck Vs Phase 3:



Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs Phase 3 can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

She-Ra! Er... She-Male! - Episode 4.09: Chuck Vs Phase 3

Written by Kristin Newman

Directed by Anton Cropper

That's the power of love!

Many TV series have precious rare moments of alchemy when storyline, series history, character development, writing, acting, directing, music, etc and probably catering too for all that is possible; come together in a rare, magical confluence of energies to create an episode that transcends their normal output. Such episodes become the show's insignia. Lost fans often refer to, 'The Constant,' as such an episode.

Now Chuck has its signature episode; Chuck Vs Phase Three.

And like, 'The Constant,' it deals with love and faith and hope and the lengths and strengths that the couples involved will go to and the power they draw from their partnership. In Chuck Vs Phase 3, we see the power of the Chuck and Sarah relationship persevere through its greatest challenge. As is characteristic for the two of them; Chuck fights his battle on a mental landscape while Sarah cuts a swath of chaos on those who are in any way a physical barrier to her finding Chuck.

A defenseless Chuck, Intersect Impotent, kidnapped in the previous episode and whisked away to an undisclosed location takes on a, “Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind,” battle for his mind. Chuck tries to protect his sanity and his memories as The Belgian, played in a delicious evil Dr. Kildare manner by Richard Chamberlain, and his assistant probe Chuck's psyche trying to find the mental lever that will turn the trick and cause Chuck to flash.

At the same time, Team Bartowski is scouring the globe in a vain and desperate attempt to find Chuck. And we get to see a Sarah Walker that we have been waiting to see since the series started. Vulnerable, strong, frustrated, worried, fearful, angry; out of control. A little crazed. Or in the understatement of the episode as Beckman put it, 'On the edge.' As Casey so insight-fully notes we are seeing glimpses of the Sarah Walker that existed before she met Chuck.

This is a tour de force, brauva performance by Yvonne Strahovski. She must have be so pumped when the script for this episode was handed to her. An actor's dream script. Never has she had to carry so much of an episode as she does in this one. Not just emotionally but physically as well. Have to imagine Yvonne was drained on both planes by the time this episode finished filming. She excelled at both.

On a visceral level seeing Sarah go on a rampage is a thrilling sight to see. From breaking the rules to torturing a source to butting heads with Casey to cutting a swathe through Thailand - generating a fearsome reputation as the 'She-Male' in the process - to besting the best in a pit fight, and to storming The Belgian's hideout; this was a Sarah as an unstoppable force of nature. (Was I the only one who thought Sarah's hair style in the beginning made her look like a rampaging Indian Warrior with a headdress on?)

It is the emotional beats that Yvonne carried off that make the lasting impression. She got to play the entire emotional spectrum. Often both sides of the same emotion. Sometimes Sarah was instilling fear. Other times she was experiencing it. The moment in the bedroom where Sarah approaches Chuck's shirt and hesitates slightly before touching it spoke volumes.

Never has Sarah been so vulnerable. Never has Sarah been so strong. Never has Sarah been so open.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.
  • The entire episode! Pick any moment and its golden.

Writer Kristen Newman suffers no sophomore slump here after her first episode, Chuck Vs The Coup D'Etat. She continues to display her grasp of the characters and comedic beats. The dialogue crackles in this one and this is a very quotable episode. All the characters get moments to shine. Casey gets to growl, stand up to Sarah, kibitz with Morgan, and have amusingly interesting glimpses into his character too. The waitress recognition moment at the pit fight was a wonderful comedic touch.

Morgan continues to be the all knowing sage, The Magnet, gets to display his leaping before looking bravery stepping in between Sarah and Casey, and continues to be relationship adviser to Chuck and Sarah. By the end of this episode Morgan has made sure that Chuck and Sarah are on the same page relationship-wise. Morgan is truly a, 'Connector.'

Kudos for the stunt team and to the editing team as well. The scene where dream and real Sarah bring Chuck back from the precipice of losing himself was beautifully cut together.

Next week, Frost and Volkoff return. For Thanksgiving leftovers no less. How will this all play out and how will Ellie and the Roark laptop play out? Next episode, 'Chuck Vs The Leftovers,' should provide some answers.

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.07: The Abducted

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CNN - 4.08: Chuck Vs The Fear Of Death

Welcome back gang!

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of CNN 4.08 - Chuck Vs The Fear Of Death:


To launch - click HERE.

Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The Fear Of Death can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

Narrative Nerve Pinch - Episode 4.08: Chuck Vs The Fear of Death

Written by Nicholas Wootton
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeil
Most frustrating episode ever.


Loved the guest stars. Loved the work of the cast, with one blameless exception. Loved the concept of Chuck being captured. Loved Sarah's reaction to Chuck's capture. Loved Casey and Morgan teaming up with Sarah to go find Chuck. Loved the action sequences.

Disappointed with the story narrative.

It is a given within the Chuckverse that fans have to relax their suspension of disbelief. We do it every week because the payoff is often worth it in terms of character moments and entertainment value. Each of us has our own subjective tipping point where the strain on credibility exceeds that disbelief threshold and disarms the entertainment payoff. For myself it revolves around whether or not the story beats being carried off feel honest to the characters or characters are made stupid to support the storyline.

In this episode we have Chuck unable to flash. In essence, an injured field agent with an indeterminate recovery period. So the notion that sending him in the field so injured, with minimal support, and gamble on the Pure Fear of Death restoring his flashing ability makes no sense. Even within the Chuckverse. This episode also reopens the series old question as to why Chuck is not being given traditional field training as a backup or supplement to his Intersect abilities.
It is illogical to put Chuck, a very unique and very valuable resource; an All Star if you will, in actual mortal danger. Beyond transparent dramatic ones. It is akin to sending a star injured baseball player out onto the outfield with a broken catching arm and telling him to perform the same duties with his other arm. Without a catching glove. It also makes General Beckman incompetent and makes her a transparent story device; harming the character in the process.

There are many less credibility straining story lines to get Chuck to a position where he ends up captured. Could not the same result been achieved by duping Chuck into thinking he was on a real mission instead as one example? Throw all these factors together and for me that suspension of disbelief tipping point is exceeded. If you were able to accept the storyline then obviously this episode will work much better for you.

What was really interesting about the episode was that the diagnosis for Chuck's inability to flash seems to be a false one. That false assumption being that whatever the MamaB PSP Intersect Upgrade did to Chuck has suppressed the Intersect. Laboratory methods fail to work so Agent Rye's Pure Fear of Death hypothesis is given a go. By now questions about Chuck's character in terms of bravery and self-confidence have been answered several times over. So further exploration of these themes is redundant. Especially if the flashing problem turns out to simply a technical one. It may just be a matter of software incompatibility between Intersect 2.0, which PapaB did not work on, and the PSP update.

Based on what we saw in this episode it seems most probable that the suppression theory of the Intersect is wrong. Chuck faced multiple moments of danger but still was unable to flash.

PFOD as Intersect Cure? Don't Think So!
Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.
  • 'What was the point of the water?'
  • 'That sounds like candor.'
  • Summer Glau as Greta = hotness
  • Casey developing itchy trigger finger because he has not been on a mission for a month
  • Ninjas!
  • 'Agent Rye. Jim Rye.'
  • 'Physical. Psychological. Painful. Brutal.' 'Let's get physical.'
  • Sarah 'flashing' on Spy School training Karate Kempo forms
  • 'Mama....mia'
  • PFOD
  • Sarah's exasperated, 'Then there's no safety net!'
  • You say GON-DOH-LA , I say GON-DOLA
  • 'Sir. You are already the highest bidder.'
  • 'Operation. Get A Greta'
  • Star Trek Neck Nerve Pinch Reference!
  • Chucksicle
  • Chuck takes an online gemology class. 'Very convenient.'
  • Alex and Casey talking about friendship
  • 'Just curious. Which one do you think is the pyschotic one?'
  • 'Greta to the cage.' lured by a Subway sub
  • Gstaad!
  • Casey rescuing Jeff & Lester
  • Casey dressing down Greta and calling on their history with previous crews
  • 'Did I just get shot?' Bye, bye, Rye.
  • Richard Chamberlain menacing as Chuck's captor
  • Angry Sarah!
  • Casey and Morgan telling Sarah 'We'll go together,' to find Chuck. Great family moment.
Full marks to the cast, and guest stars, for doing yeoman's work with the material. Yvonne Strahovski continues to nail it, week in and week out. Adam Baldwin has been a rock all season even while being under-utilized to an extent. The guest stars were fun and Richard Chamberlain's brief turn in this one sets him up nicely as a force to be feared and reckoned with in the next one.

Summer Glau was fun to watch too even if the amount of screen time and storyline of the BuyMore took away precious screen time that could have been better used in the main storyline. With Jeff and Lester cluing into the constant succession of Gretas, does this spell the end of the Greta concept?

Robert Riggle was a hoot as a manic version of Crocodile Hunter mixed with Dr. Phil. His over the top zest for being a spy was entertaining to watch and his character will be missed. Too bad he was not used in a sensible storyline.

What saves this episode, that seems to be mostly smoke screen because everything that happened in it is based on a false assumption about the Intersect issue, is the last five minutes. Once Chuck is captured the story narrative really springs to life. Sarah has her best moments, angrily defiant to anyone that gets in her way of finding Chuck. Casey's nonverbal reactions to her outburst spoke volumes and when he and Morgan showed up, not to confront Sarah, but to offer their aid and support; it is one of the series's great, 'characters as a family,' moments.

One of the story ideas fans having been waiting for awhile, Chuck or Sarah being captured for an extended length of time and being rescued by the other, is finally in play. While this episode did not generate the same level of tension and excitement that the end of Chuck Vs The Fat Lady did when Casey and Sarah thought Chuck had been captured by Jill, the promos for the next episode – Chuck Vs Phase 3 - look to fulfill, if not exceed, expectations as Sarah goes Rambo on a Chuck Rescue.

Monday, November 22, 2010

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.06: 6955 KHz

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.05: Amber 31422

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CNN Season 4 Bonus Ep - Jan Vs ChuckFest2!

Welcome back gang!

No episode of Chuck this week to review but instead a SPECIAL BONUS EPISODE of CNN as Jan aka happydayz3 recounts her ChuckFest2 experience.

To launch - click HERE.

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

CNN - 4.07: Chuck Vs The First Fight

Welcome back gang!

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of Episode 4.07: Chuck Vs The First Fight:


To launch - click HERE.

Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The First Fight can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

A Fistful of Fakeouts - Episode 4.07: Chuck Vs The First Fight

Written by Lauren LeFranc & Rafe Judkins

Directed by Allan Kroeker

Well played Chuck showrunners. Not only did you throw a curve ball at us, diverting us from the obvious Dalton as the baddie casting connection, with Timothy Dalton playing a frumpy MI6 Handler by the name of Tuttle; you simultaneously deked us out about the title and how it would play out in the episode.

Well played.

Move over Dream Job, I now have a favorite new episode. All things Chuck just work so much better when the spine of the show is based on a compelling spy story. The humor flows more naturally and feels funnier, the nerd references have more pop, the relationships gain more emotional weight, character motivations are often in conflict with the spy story creating extra layers of tension, and the weaknesses of the show diminish; if not vanish altogether. Conversely when the spine of the show is based on the relationship between Chuck and Sarah those very same elements rarely work together as well. The reason for that bears further examination.

It is oft quoted that the Chuck and Sarah relationship is the heart of the show. (I like to think that heart also includes all the relationships of which, indisputably, the Chuck and Sarah is the major one.) But to paraphrase the original Star Trek episode, 'The Trouble with Tribbles,' 'Too much of anything, even love, is not a good thing.' Those loveable but prolific tribbles soon inhabited every corner of the screen distracting the characters from the real threat. After three Chuck episodes in a row(4.02 – 4.04) that focused on Chuck and Sarah, even the most die hard relationship fans were ready for a change of pace. That is because the spy stories ended up being generic and not emotionally engaging for the principal characters and by extension, the audience. There was no sense of danger. No tension.

When the spy mission is the spine of the story, comments about the show firing on all cylinders or being a balanced episode are often seen. Why is that? It is because all the characters are on equal footing in such episodes. When the episode is based on a relationship issue between Chuck and Sarah the only characters directly involved are, obviously, Chuck and Sarah. This focus creates an imbalance or barrier between the leads and the other characters. The other characters are hobbled from the get go. They can either only be involved in the main storyline from an indirect vantage point or the episode must contain a separate storyline for them. Which dilutes both storylines.

Things go even better when all the elements that go into making a show come together to create something that is greater than the individual sum of the parts. It is rather magical. Always hoped for. Occasionally happens. Can never be manufactured. Casting the right person for a part and having that person not only handle the role but go beyond what was envisioned is every show's hope. Timothy Dalton as Tuttle, aka Volkoff, is one of those moments.

Dalton brings such an energy, such a glee, such a joy of life to the screen that it synergistically affects the other actors around him. Dalton's scenes with Zac Levi were so much fun to watch. As his reveal at the end of the episode. Amazing. Also amazing is what a little change in wardrobe, hair style, and body language can bring to an actor. Scott Bakula had the same transformative moment in Season Two's Dream Job when he went from being PapaB to Orion. Tuttle becomes Volkoff and those preconceived images the audience had of Dalton because of his Bond heritage served that reveal moment well. Too bad the Tuttle character has been lost so quickly but par for the course on a show where plot elements are often burnt through so rapidly. Tuttle was a lot of fun.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.
  • Sarah distracted by MamaB during briefing with Beckman
  • 'calm' Chuck
  • Phalanx computer and triangular? discs
  • Chuck 'waltzes in' by Tom, Jerry, Casey & other agents to see MamaB in the Castle
  • Sarah turns a high heel spike into a weapon, Morgan pays the price
  • 'Morgan, please don't touch my chest.'
  • 'I'm sorry. The code one more time.'
  • Morgan, unlike Chuck, confronts Casey about their 'First Fight'
  • 'Do I get to parachute out of a plane on a horse?'
  • Subtle, undercover Morgan dropping ear piece into glass of water
  • Tuttle and the plastic fork, 'I'd like to apologize for addressing you in a harsh tone.'
  • 'Had my first sexual experience while watching Lawrence of Arabia.' Tuttle cracks under threat of torture
  • 'Oh cool! A tiny weapons standoff!'
  • Close quarters plane fight and another big guy prove too much for the Intersect.
  • Tuttle's 'Here! Catch!' knife throw
  • Morgan brokers a deal with MamaB. 'I haven't had a decent Rice Krispie square since..'
  • Tuttle teases Chuck about only have one parachute
  • 'Thrilling! Reminds me of that episode of Alias. I loved that show!'
  • Sheep truck bonding
  • Ellie and MamaB meet and talk, Sarah listens
  • MamaB tells Ellie about the car that matches the one in the paper
  • The Indestructible Woman! Scars and beauty marks!
  • Sarah's exasperated, 'Is there anybody you didn't tell about our fight?'
  • Morgan accepts Casey 'apology'
  • Sarah a bit behind on social media with a 'Friendsters' shoutout
  • 'Fighting with you is exhausting.'
  • Chuck and Sarah fight through their 'First Fight'
  • Tuttle is shot!
  • MamaB zaps Chuck with some form of Intersect update via a PSP!
  • 'There is no Tuttle, Charles.' Volkoff unveiled!
  • Chuck cannot flash. No more Intersect or?
  • PapaB narrates letter left for Ellie
  • Ellie ends up with a present not only from PapaB but Orion too
Linda Hamilton continues to thrive as MamaB. Her stern exterior is broken by the most unexpected moments. Morgan showing up in the Castle detention cell to plead with MamaB is one of those great beats. MamaB talking to Ellie about their family history is another as she ends the scene brushing Ellie's hair behind her ear. What is so great about the scene is that Casey and Sarah, in their own way, get to show they are part of the Bartowski family too. Casey's subdued and regretful interruption that it is time to for MamaB to go along with Sarah's reactions as she sits in the background and gets to hear a recounting of family history that is so relevant for her, are quiet moments that show how much 'family' there is with these characters.

This episode also demonstrated that bringing Morgan into the spy world is the right choice. Morgan's struggle with the earpiece and glass of water was very funny. The Morgan/Casey 'First Fight' was carried out with aplomb; like the Chuck and Sarah fight; and resolved 'in mission', in ways that befitted both groups of characters. And Ellie! Ahhh Ellie. Is this a sign of things to come? Is Ellie really going to play a role in the spy world or will she simply carry a baton for a short bit? I hope the right answer is the first choice. Each time we get a glimpse of Sarah Lancaster's acting ability it becomes ever more painful when she sinks back down into the background again. With Chuck in Intersect limbo could Ellie's neuroscience abilities along with the Orion laptop left in the car become the story tool to unlock Chuck? The sharing and familial bonding that could occur in such a storyline gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Imagine how it would play out if Ellie was actively involved in those moments!

Laura Lefranc and Rafe Judkins continue to demonstrate their skill in handling not just the characters but their ability to interweave previous events from the show into their most current writing assignment. They also have the comedy down pat and this time really shone with the mission storyline.

Chuck and Sarah could be facing their toughest challenge yet. Hanging on to their personal and professional lifes in a world where Chuck can no longer access or has the Intersect.

Chuck the show, and Chuck the character, finally has an adversary to take note of in Volkoff.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

CNN - 4.06: Chuck Vs The Aisle of Terror

Welcome back gang!

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of Episode 4.06: Chuck Vs The Aisle of Terror:


To launch - click HERE.

Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The Aisle of Terror can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

Friday, October 22, 2010

ODONTV - Podcast 1 - A Chat With AOLTV Critic - Maureen Ryan

The first ODONTV podcast on the current state of TV!

And what a kickoff! Join me as I chat with AOLTV Critic Maureen Ryan who can be found online at StayTuned under the AOL TV Squad.

We talk about TV critiquing and what Maureen strives to do in her job. Fun stuff includes geeking out about various shows including the upcoming AMC - The Walking Dead, Terriers, Chuck, Sons of Anarchy.  We also discuss how the Internet and new Social Media are changing many aspects of how people interact with one another in regards to reporting on and being fans of TV.

Kick back and join us in our Grokside Chat:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CNN - 4.05: Chuck Vs The Couch Lock

Welcome back gang!

Celebration Time! Woohoo! Join us and our guest - dokhnutty aka Shari from the SWFanGirls podcast as we celebrate NBC's order of a back 11 for Chuck and an excellent episode of Chuck this week!

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of Episode 4.05: Chuck Vs The Couch Lock:

Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Also a special thanks to Shari! Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The Couch Lock can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

That's The Way, Uhuh, Uhuh - Episode 4.05: Chuck Vs The Couch Lock

Written by Henry Alonso Meyers

Directed by Michael Schultz

'That's The Way, Uhuh, Uhuh! I like it! Uhuh. Uhuh.'

K.C. & The Sunshine Band


'Build A Solid Spy Story And Good Episodes Will Come.'

Field of Dreams Paraphrase

After three consecutive episodes of Chuck and Sarah relationship hand holding, and BuyMore resetting, the show returned to the spy story with The Couch Lock. In a big way too. This episode did so many things right that it made me giddy with joy.

In model, 'Show don't tell,' manner, this episode dramatized Chuck's realization that his quest to find his mother is putting his immediate loved ones in mortal danger. Casey, Morgan, and Sarah were placed in harm's way as a direct result of what Chuck set in motion. By using the supporting players to show this it is a win, win situation. Not only do we get to share with Chuck the experience of what he has caused to happen but Casey and Morgan get to grow as characters, interact with the leads more, and play off one another in both dramatic and humorous ways.

Why was this all possible? Because the episode had a solid story foundation to work from. The longevity of a series comes down to its characters. The strength of individual episodes come down to how strong the story engine is. With Chuck being a spy based show that equates to having solid missions. Those missions work even better when an emotional connection can be forged between it and the cast. The more characters with personal stakes in the mission the better. With Couch Lock the initial emotional hooks are with Casey and his former A-Team members. This one works even better because it ties in to the season arc for MamaB, Morgan's relationship with Casey and his daughter Alex, and the aforementioned Chuck episode arc of weighing the cost of the end goal versus the means he is using to get there.


Casey Unlocked!

With all that to work with the episode becomes a gold mine of character beats, action set pieces, comedy, heart felt moments, and just plain old fun. Riffing off of the A-Team, Charade, Weekend At Bernie's, and Entrapment to name a few there was very much to like about this one. This episode also makes the best use of Jeff and Lester since Dream Job and the American Hero where their unknowing participation in the spy storyline is seamless and as a result very funny. Another sign of a good episode is when the BuyMore supports the main storyline instead of detracting from it.

Episode Flashes: - so much to pick from this week! Too much. Add your own in the comments.

* The Casey A-Team: Packard, T.I., MacIntosh,
* Clinton and his mouthy wife
* Casey smelling Jeff & Lester
* 'White Zin. Magic of the Gathering, If you have the manna.' Jeff &Lester riffing
* Morgan with Alex while staying under Casey's radar at the BuyMore
* great to see Chuck and Morgan talking openly at the BuyMore
* 'You know. The A-Team.' 'I was the A-Team.'
* 'Casey. We have to kill you.'
* Sarah's look of pride at Chuck's plan to draw out the A-Team
* Chuck's discomfort with Beckman congratulating him on putting duty above emotion
* Fakeadeathonol
* 'Little alone time before I die. Pay some bills.'
* Morgan's 'mish' callback quickly dismissed by Chuck
* Casey 'Charade' funeral scene done to Oingo Boingo's – 'Dead Man's Party'
* Casey freaking out Morgan when he opens his eyes
* Casey being stuck with American Flag pin and lit cigar
* 'Forgiveness. Big gun loving. Commie hating. Forgiveness.' Morgan's hilarious eulogy.
* A-Team stealing of Casey from church
* Casey's tracker on cat. Chuck's frantic, 'Don't shoot it,' to tactical squad
* Casey ordering his feet to move
* Jeff and Lester knowing the exact dumpster Casey is in.
* Red Batphone at the BuyMore!
* 'Strait laced ones.' 'Every one likes to get their freak on.' 'Sometimes I like to feel official too.'
* 'You don't say uh-oh!'
* Snarky Sarah – 'You could have told me that before I crawled under those lasers.' - should have been a hommage to Entrapment there though
* Casey couch locked with a StormTroopers helmet to boot
* Morgan getting Alex out of harm's way.
* Alex, like her father, prefers to be direct.
* Sarah's, 'Getting bored,' to Chuck.
* Morgan trying to break Casey's couch lock by slapping him, 'Like slapping a car!'
* Morgan breaking Casey's couch lock by telling him about Alex – great Casey reaction shots and loved the use of Russian themed music during this sequence
* 'Frost is our boss.' Volkoff's right hand clean up specialist.
* Casey and Morgan at the Iranian bunker door. Morgan with a battery hand-held fan.
* 'That's 3 to 1 Casey!' 'Just the way I like it.'
* Holy Goldfinger!
* 'Let there be darkness!
* 'Is that a little girl?'
* Name: Morgan. Expertise: None.
* Morgan waking up to Sarah
* 'I died?' 'Yeah. Just for 3 secs.'
* 'We wake up in some of the best dumpsters in the city.'
* Morgan party invitation to Casey made up like a top secret document.
* Casey covering for Morgan with Alex
* Alex to Morgan, 'You are brave.'
* 'Break her heart, I break your everything.'
* Chuck and Sarah fountain scene. Chuck deciding to give up search for MamaB as price is too high.
* MamaB calling Chuck.

With the exception of Big Mike, everyone puts in an appearance and none of it felt contrived. Especially nice was the family gathering at Morgan's party. Adam Baldwin really demonstrated a lot of acting range with even more minimal body movement because of his Weekend At Bernie's Couch Lockdown. The eye emotings he did, mostly with Morgan, were hilarious. But really the episode belonged to Morgan as he 'died' for three seconds and proved to Casey that he is indeed a good guy. Casey and Morgan scenes are gold and this episode gave us twenty-four carat ones. Morgan and Alex continued to show their chemistry from the previous episode was no fluke. Also very refreshing to see Alex being very open and direct in her talks with Morgan.

For an episode that had so many of Zac Levi's real life friends such as Joel David Moore and Eric Roberts in it, it was unfortunate that Chuck and Sarah were somewhat subordinate in the episode. All to the good mind you because that is what the story called for. It has been awhile since the Chuck that I really liked so much as a character has had a chance to come out but he did this episode. He learned a lesson and was willing to give up the search for his mother. Great to see his priorities back in proper order.

Fortunately, for dramatic purposes, Chuck's activities have caught Volkoff's attention and, no doubt, prompted him to bring in his cleaner. MamaB.


Monday, October 18, 2010

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.04: Dreaming ShapeShifters

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Superb, Sweet And Sexy! - Episode 4.04: Chuck Vs The Coup D'Etat

Written by Kristin Newman
    Directed by Robert Duncan McNeil
Everyone brings their own set of expectations to the things they indulge in during their leisure time. Even within a shared experience such as a TV show those expectations can vary widely. Even one as telegraphed as Chuck. So when I sit back, watch an episode that operates heavily in the areas which are not in my preferred pleasure zones and still come away with a big, sloppy grin on my ugly mug, it can only mean one thing; an exceptional episode.

Rookie Chuck writer, Kristen Newman of, 'That 70's Show,' and 'How I Met Your Mother,' background experience serves up a goldmine episode of character nugget rich moments. She displays a flair for the comedic with layered dialogue that leads, more often than not, from a character moment to another or even a scene transition in a skilled and seamless matter.

One of my favorite beats is when Chuck is talking relationships, Sarah is talking mission, Chuck flashes on one of Sarah's intel pictures of the Costa Gravas nuclear weapons panel, Chuck switches to talking mission and nuclear, and Sarah switches to relationship talk using the nuclear comment as her jumping off point before Chuck brings them both back in synch and talking about the mission.

Funny. Clever. Witty. Seamless. An awesome bit of writing.

Kristen gives each of the regular cast and the main guest stars great lines and beats to play. Armand Assante returns with zest and vigor and Tia Texada as his embittered spouse matches him beat for beat. Casey and Morgan continue to explore their relationship now becoming even more complicated and filled with even more comedic potential with the return Casey's long lost daughter, Alex. Mekanna Melvin makes a fetching return as Alex, made all the more so awesome that there is definite on screen chemistry between her and Josh Gomez's Morgan Grimes.

Morgan was back on track character wise after being somewhat sublimated in the last episode to facilitate the return of Big Mike. He channeled the audience's exasperation with Chuck and Sarah's communication issues, indirectly led to the closing scene with Sarah telling a 'sleeping' Chuck what her answer would be to the big question via the seemingly ill advised selfhelp relationship book , kivitzed with Casey, was wise and emboldened enough by Alex to follow Big Mike's advice, and went for the jam in his soul.

All this, and while we are all eager to see Casey and Morgan interaction, the little bearded one is not just entering into in-law situations with not just one powerful father figure, but two! Morgan navigating stormy patriarchal seas of not only Casey but Big Mike as well. Plus being in a romance. Plus managing a BuyMore. Plus being a spy! And we thought Chuck was doing a big juggling act back in the Season One and Two days. Talk about a busy guy!

The Chuck and Sarah dynamics were a lot of fun this week too. Especially as we got to see them played off of Ellie and Devon, the Communication All-Stars. From the awkward faux proposal opening to the still awkward surveillance van scene to the bikini decision and various types of communication scene to their shared fight scene right on to the final bedroom scene; each them of them, like real partners, had individual and shared moments to shine as they worked on being better communicators.

Episode Flashes: - an embarrasment of riches in this episode, more than I can list
  • The real Morgan is back this week! Yippee!
  • Morgan channeling audience on Chuck & Sarah being crap communicators while being the masters of precious looks
  • Morgan nailing the heart of the awkward faux engagement – how would Chuck have reacted if Sarah had said yes
  • Devon talking to baby and sharing his fab workout jams
  • wheelchair Casey in Castle for 'fresh air'
  • Beckman back to monitor status - Boo!
  • Beckman's – 'Anyone who was not shot recently.'
  • Generalissmo's hilarious Costa Gravas travelogue video
  • Smooth product placement via Devon and Goya
  • Babymoon
  • Bikinis &'Yes. That. Both....all of them.' & 'There are many ways to communicate.'
  • Morgan trying to take care of Casey.
  • 'Dad.' 'Daughter.' 'Morgan, how'd the pot roast turn out?'
  • Roman Holiday movie
  • 'Grimes, give her a five minute head start.'
  • Chuck's cuddling needs versus Sarah's needs for thirty minutes of silence.
  • Awesome's awesome smile at seeing his statue
  • Generalissimo's wife, Hortencia
  • Generalissimo's senses immediately picking up on the fragrance of a ripe fruit aka Ellie's pregnancy
  • 'Way to go, marble me!'
  • 'Follow the stink of commie.'
  • Tall and brunette versus charming and handsome. Sarah and Chuck characters captured in dialogue.
  • Red door. 'Get me out of here!'
  • Alex & Morgan movie marathons
  • Big Mike on Casey, 'That's not a daddy you want to be giving you a spanking.'
  • Chuck shaking his head no but saying yes to Sarah's question about the 101 Questions book
  • Costa Gravas = Chuck and Sarah = nuclear
  • General Beckman's – 'Costa Gravas is nuclear!'
  • Casey nailing the full scope of those involved with the Coup
  • a red polka dotted, laser sighted Casey proclaiming, 'Cute. Too bad you didn't bring enough.'
  • 'The stench of tyranny.'
  • Big Mike talking the goods to Morgan about love via Bolognia singing like the happiest bird in the sky to knowing about being with the right one because you feel the sweet, smooth jams rise up from your soul
  • 'What rebel leader goes to a marriage counsellor?'
  • Alex and Morgan!
  • Sarah talking to Chuck in his 'sleep.' Best of all it is left open to our interpretation. Was Chuck awake or asleep? Either scenario works for me. And works well.

'Too bad you didn't bring enough.' - One good leg, seriously painted John Casey. Bad Ass!
Quibbles? Sure, but most of them are based on the way the season is being handled.

For this episode, the first half was stronger than the second. The resolution was cribbed far too much from 3.02 - Chuck Vs The Three Words where Chuck talked down Carina's supposed boyfriend in a similar manner. It was great to see Chuck tell Ellie about his quest to find their mother but a continuing disappointment that he is hiding his spy life from Ellie. At least Chuck is dropping hints to Ellie. It irks me though to see the show continually under use Sarah Lancaster as Ellie. The actress and the character deserve better. I do not see the purpose or plus side to keeping both of them on a short leash. They unleashed Morgan and look what happened. Why not do the same for Ellie?

Three episodes in a row where the Chuck and Sarah relationship shaped the mission. With the exceptions of the Cubic Z and the Anniversary there has been a paucity of tension and drama to the episodes. When an episode is a good as the Coup D'etat I can forego that requirement.

Really enjoyed this episode and hope for those of you who are into the show for primarily for the relationship are happy with the season to this point. Let me know in the comments section where you want to see the emphasis placed on the future direction of the show. Do you want the focus to continue to be on the relationship? Or would you like to see the spy mythology and MamaB storyline start to rev up?

I barely mentioned how awesome Casey and Awesome were this episode too.  Another sign of a great episode.

CNN - 4.04: Chuck Vs The Coup D'Etat

Welcome back gang!

Joe has a message at the beginning of the podcast about an effort - Chucktoberfest - to raise Chuck`s profile and renewal chances. Check out the article - here.

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of Episode 4.04: Chuck Vs The Coup D'Etat:

Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The Coup D'Etat can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.03: The Plateau

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Giving The Past The Shaft - Episode 4.03: Chuck Vs The Cubic Z

Written by Nicholas Wootton

Directed by Norman Buckley

First time Chuck writer Nicholas Wootton sets up a Chuck episode that aims high but is undercut by execution factors outside his control and the restrictions of the world which the show has set upon itself. He has a solid grasp on the spy material but the world of BuyMore retail ridiculousness was flat.

The spy storyline of a prisoner transfer of characters from Chuck and Sarah's past is a great idea but is hampered by the need to tie a BuyMore storyline to it. The Cubic Z gives some excellent emotional hooks for Sarah into the main storyline only to have them undercut by placing the burden of carrying those moments on Nicole Ritchie. The episode gives a triumphant return to Big Mike but at the expense of Morgan's character.

For Sarah, the reappearance of high school nemesis, Heather Chandler, could not come at a worse time. Having a romantic getaway canceled in the midst of relationship strain over commitment issues places Sarah in a vulnerable position. And like the true predator she is, Heather Chandler senses Sarah's weakness and exploits for pure enjoyment. It is this aspect of the Heather character which works so well and which Nicole Ritchie can carry off with relish.

The return of Steve Austin's Hugo Panzer clicked on all fronts. He was big, bad, crafty, powerful and engagingly evil. Everything you want in a bad guy. Hugo was plain fun to watch and his fight scenes with Chuck were great, especially the Cage Match. His eventual put down by Big Mike was good – though the Big Mike put down of Leader from Season Two is still Big Mike's signature take out in my books.

Automatic Evilness!

Episode Flashes:

  • Video game called Spy Attack
  • Morgan blogging about listening skills
  • 'Beyond DeNiro serious. That's Russell Crowe serious.'
  • 'Filter, filter!'
  • Chuck and Morgan taking a moment to enjoy angst free relationships
  • Sarah putting a beating on Casey, fighting like a pit bull
  • Sarah and Casey talking relationships!!!!!!!!
  • 'Jenny Burton, my old high school punching bag.'
  • 'I am Cobra!'
  • Hugo Panzer! Steve Austin rocked this episode.
  • Great to see Big Mike. Great to see him ask Morgan's blessing to marry his mom.
  • Supply closet shenanigans!
  • Tough cop. Silent cop.
  • Heather is very good at the needling. Not so much the emotional insights.
  • Sarah telling Chuck to not let Heather get under his skin. LOL
  • Volkoff engineered prison transfer? Intriguing
  • Hugo/Greta fight scene
  • Casey with flaky Voice Recognition Control Interface
  • Castle air ducts are big enough to handle Star Trek Enterprise turbolifts!
  • Heather chides with Jenny/Sarah name
  • Hehee - Sarah responds with head kick
  • four way melee between Chuck, Sarah, Hugo, and Heather
  • Sarah's, 'That felt good.'
  • Rooftop fight! Girls and automatic weapons!
  • 'Back up.' 'You back up.' 'No! You back up!'
  • Hugo/Chuck cage match
  • 'Mike. Big Mike.'
  • Casey and Sarah continue to give each other relationship advice!!!!!!!!
  • Operation Beacon: Frost and Volkoff seem very close. Hmmmm.
  • Chuck and Sarah agree to take things slow
  • Fate via a ring drop seems to counter them

The best character interchanges took place between Sarah and Casey this episode. Who would have thought that the two spies of the show would not only be having personal conversations but good ones at that two seasons ago? Sarah's pit bull aggression while fighting Casey was hilarious. Chuck, Intersect or no, do not make this female dynamo angry!

For the first time this season, an episode hit the ground running. The pacing of the episode was good even when certain elements were not working such as the whole BuyMore Spy Attack video game launch and the return of Big Mike. I love Big Mike as much as the next person and it was great to see him again. Unfortunately his return was at the expense of Morgan's character and to an extent Chuck's. Chuck should have taken down Hugo in the cage. And no way, would Hugo leave the cage without killing Chuck.

Also does this mean the end of Beckman's onsite presence? If so, that is a most unwelcome reversion.

It was also a welcome sight to actually have Sarah's conflict over learning that she was no longer the person Heather claimed, to be visibly dramatized. This was done through Heather's character as well as during the decisive moment on the rooftop battle when Sarah frees Heather to help in the fight instead of giving her up. Unfortunate then that Heather's last speech to Sarah about Chuck and love and Sarah being able to change came out as an exposition infodump instead of a heartfelt moment.

To balance that though the episode had several terrific action scenes. The brief but violent fight between Greta and Hugo made an impact. Along with the rooftop fight, Chuck's cage match with Hugo, and Sarah's feel good putdown of Heather the episode earns top marks on the action front.

Another thing the episode did well was to show that Volkoff has far reaching power. To be able to arrange prisoner transfers and intercept and replace rescue teams keeps his presence in our minds. It also shows he holds a grudge. Heather's reveal about Operation Beacon and that Frost was never far from Volkoff's side continues to muddy the waters as to where MamaB's loyalties lie.

While the closing cliffhanger was not all that much, I did like the notion that even though Chuck and Sarah have agreed to take things slow, the timing of an engagement ring showing up at that very instance plants the seed of thought that Fate may have something else in mind for them as far as a timeline is involved.

CNN - 4.03: Chuck Vs The Cubic Z

Welcome back gang! Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of Episode 4.03: Chuck Vs The Cubic Z: Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our next Season 4 Audio Review. Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy! Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us! Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The Cubic Z can be found at ChuckTV - here. As always this podcast is family and office safe.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.02: The Box

Join us in our temporarily constructed shared reality known as a podcast, as we discuss the latest episode of Fringe.

Friday, October 1, 2010

FBI(Fringe Benefits Inc.)Ep Review - 3.01: Fringe 3.01 - Olivia

CNN - 4.02: Chuck Vs The Suitcase

Welcome back gang!

Take a listen to our Audio Episode Review of Episode 4.02: Chuck Vs The Suitcase:

Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our second Season 4 Review.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters, Jan, Karen, and Joe. Hope you listeners will enjoy!

Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN - Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Note: my written review for Chuck Vs The Suitcase can be found at ChuckTV - here.

As always this podcast is family and office safe.

Role Models Recycle – Episode 4.02: Chuck Vs The Suitcase

Written by Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc

Directed by Gail Mancuso

Last season in Chuck Vs The Role Models we were led to believe that Sarah had overcome her commitment issues when she agreed to move in with Chuck. In Suitcase we learn that was a baby step. While Sarah has apparently been able to set up a few pictures on the living room mantelpiece that appears to be the extent of her initial move in. In the following eight months she has been unable to take the next step and unpack the rest of her personal belongings. This is dramatized by the starkly naked image of her half of the bedroom closet.

It would seem that an unwillingness to unpack translates into an Achilles Heel for missions, though what exactly that weakness is, is never made clear. In an episode that postulates a ‘Smart Bullet’ such answers are left to the viewer to decide. Or accept on faith.

Suitcase is an episode where the B Storyline outmatches the A Storyline in every department. Isiah Mustafah as this week’s Greta outmatches the combined talents of Karolina Kurchova, Lou Ferrigno, and a barely present Bronson Pinchot. The BuyMore storyline has Morgan pointing out to Beckman that the government run BuyMore is too efficient. Such a well run retail outlet can only lead to having its cover blown. Morgan’s solution? Bring back the original BuyMore crew. The B storyline was tighter, more believable and arguably a more entertaining one than the ‘Smart Bullet,’ one for the ‘A’ storyline.

Throw in a Chuck that all but wolf whistled at an Intel photo of an enemy agent in a bikini, an overzealous Daddy Devon that marred a long awaited family scene, a Casey reset that has him reluctant to contact Alex, and the character manipulations to service the ‘A’ storyline show up in stark relief. The saving grace between the two storylines was, again, Morgan. A Morgan who notes Sarah’s reluctance to use the closet and at the same time susses out the weakness at the too efficient BuyMore all the while doling out sound relationship advice to Casey. Keep this up and the show should be renamed, ‘Morgan.’

The return of the original BuyMore gang is living proof for two conflicting adages; absence makes the heart grow fonder and some things work better in small doses.

Episode Flashes:
* bullet shot around corner. Cool. Impossible but cool
* Morgan noting Sarah still has not unpacked
* Isiah Mustafah as the next Greta. Funny and cool at the same time
* Milan scenes use same stairway from Chuck Vs The Tango
* ‘Have you been watching Project Runway?’
* Chuck and Sarah nod to upside down SpiderMan kissing scene
* Morgan aping Casey at the BuyMore
* Morgan telling Beckman about the BuyMore flaw – ‘Two minutes. Walk with me.’
* Greta demonstrating his shooting skills with a price gun
* Jeff & Lester living on the lam aka out in the wild a full seven minutes, in traffic, from Burbank; hiding from the, ‘Popo.’
* ‘These are not the boys you are looking for.’
* Jeff’s, ‘I think my water just broke,’ when hit with the first tranq dart.
* Casey emptying the tranq gun clip in disgust into Jeff
* Tranq Gloves!
* Chuck closing door on Sarah with an ILY before taking on the bad guys
* Sarah’s fight through dressing room and out into catwalk
* ‘You’re my home Chuck. You always have been.’
* Ellie looking through photo album.
* Closing shot of Sarah’s reaction look to thoughts of marriage and family Sometimes a closet is just a closet.

Like Chuck Vs The Anniversary the episode wobbles until the second half. When Chuck and Sarah are separated and Chuck tells Sarah he loves her before closing the door to face the bad guys it finally felt like the characters I knew and love had emerged. The scenes following that were all strong from Chuck’s fight against the baddies to Sarah’s catwalk fight to Sarah’s finally, truly moving in to Ellie taking out an old family album to Sarah’s panicked look at Chuck’s statement about possible marriage and family down the road for them.

Much like Role Models, Sarah’s forward progress is all internal. There is no moment in this episode where one can see any growth on Sarah’s part that led to her character evolution. All it seemed to take was Sarah seeing a well stocked closet of another spy. If it were that simple Chuck should have arranged for Sarah to visit such a closet before Sarah moved in.

Stand alone episodes work well if the mission involves or affects the characters in a personal way. Beyond a little closet window shopping there was no such personal involvement. Neither was there any progress made in the search for MamaB. In many ways this episode is the antithesis of the best episodes of Season 3.

In Season 3 a good episode would often end on a dark note. In Suitcase a dubious spy mission storyline is protected by having a strong, upbeat ending. Take your pick. My preference is the former.

If you are looking for an episode that has lots of Chuck and Sarah interplay then Chuck Vs The Suitcase will definitely fill the bill. It is great to see the return of the kick ass Sarah Walker. Too bad the storyline and the opponent do not allow for that return to feel more triumphant and noteworthy.

One final thing to ponder, if Morgan’s statements are so stupid, why is everyone always so shook up by them?

CNN - 4.01: Chuck Vs The Anniversary

Here it is folks!

Our inaugural Audio Episode Review of Episode 4.01: Chuck Vs The Anniversary:
Join Jan, Karen, Joe, and myself as we embark on our first Season 4 Review.

Bear with us as we shakedown the format and streamline the flow as the show as best we can. We aimed a little high here ending up with 90 minutes of audio. It has been cut down to a more listenable 45 minutes but as a result it may seem disjointed at times.

Thanks to my fellow podcasters and hope you all enjoy the premiere of this new feature.
Miss any episodes? You can find them all at CNN – Chuck Nerdposium Netcast, and every time you watch it helps to support us!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lessons Learned? Mostly – Episode 4.01: Chuck Vs The Anniversary

Written by Chris Fedak
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill
With a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I watched the fourth season of Chuck start out with a lie by omission aka a secret. Coupled with an inexplicable rationalization by Chuck – as proved wrong by Casey and Sarah’s willingness to not only help Chuck at the end of the episode but also to keep it a secret from General Beckman – that Sarah and Casey would block his mission to search for MamaB.
A wobbly start.
From that tenuous opening it took about half the episode for solid footing to return and allow the story momentum to hit its stride. By the time Sarah tried ‘sexting’ while enroute to Russia the show finally gained full traction and finished in rousing style. Given how loose the episode played with time, Chuck and Morgan could have just as easily gone off on the Indiana Jones style montage searching for MamaB without the need to have kept it a secret.
With the benefit of the additional six episodes last season all the threads from the original thirteen episode arc had been closed off. That allowed this episode to fully establish and position the rest of Season Four to commence starting with the very next episode. Something that did not happen until the fourth episode of Season Three.
The new BuyMore is indeed shiny and having General Beckman on site is a definite bonus. I am still of the mind that with the Gretas and with the impending return of the Big Mike, Jeff and Lester that a time crunch is unavoidable. Add in Alex to the mix and the pressure for precious screen time becomes greater in a show with an already large cast. The reluctance to lose the BuyMore is understandable since it is such a signature part of the show but Chuck the character and the series have moved past it. It is akin to having Captain Kirk warp back to StarFleet Academy after every mission. That being said the show gets full marks for bring the BuyMore back in a streamlined and as relevant manner as possible. Anyone want to take bets that the DefCon 1 Button is part of the next Pineapple scenario?
In a show that aims so broadly there are bits that will appeal to different sections of the audience. I enjoyed the Stanton RepoMan scenes but found the interview segments being sabotaged by Beckman a clunky way of bringing Chuck back to the BuyMore. A more focused aim with the humor culled from a tighter storyline would be my preference. The standout sequence from the first half was the HongKong roof jump by Casey and Sarah. Markus setting off the EMP and blacking out the surrounding city scape was very cool.
Episode Flashes:
  • Linda Hamilton is MamaB!
  • Chuck and Sarah spy version of spouse leaving for business trip
  • Morgan/Chuck Rogue Team
  • Morgan flexing
  • Nerd Herd icon Lost Arking their progress on world map – little miffed about Canada being excluded – overlayed with Morgan and Chuck silhouettes I Spying and Avengering across the screen
  • Repo – ‘Harry Dean Stanton’ – showing up to reposses a $900 AMC Pacer and yellow at that
  • Markus using the portable EMP and blacking out surrounding Hong Kong skyline
  • Sarah openly and Casey grudgingly missing Chuck on the mission
  • Casey/Sarah roofjump from HongKong skyscraper – ode to The Dark Knight
  • Casey getting a Season 3 Callback to Sarah’s, ‘Thank You.’
  • Morgan sexting Chuck to Sarah
  • Sade, ‘Smooth Operator,’ reference by Chuck during the interview sequence
  • New and improved CIA/NSA owned and operated BuyMore/Castle – shiny! And it has slides!!!!
  • Beckman is in da house! Great idea to have Bonita Friedericy onsite and from behind the desk.
  • Olivia Munn as Greta – very pretty but not very relevant to story
  • Sarah finds ‘sexting’ cute
  • We’ll always have Tangiers. Ie RUN!!!!!!!!
  • Weapon Orders via a Chinese Dumpling Take-Out Menu – brilliant!
  • Morgan covers the trip to Volkoff Industries by selling his prized Millenium Falcon replica
  • Sarah posing awkwardly for ‘sexting’
  • Nerd icon and Casey/Sarah LearJet icons intersecting in Russia
  • Lundgren says it! ‘I must break you.’ And does kickass job as a guest star.
  • The new spy nom de plume, ‘The name is Carmichael. Michael Carmichael.’ Move over Bond!
  • MORGAN! – ‘Respect the beard.’
  • Sarah toe sexting!
  • Morgan learns from Season 3 bomb detonator finale and stays away from handling portable EMP.
  • Chuck and Morgan developing world class rep because they use public transportation
    off stage Chuck Intersect fight with 10 baddies and fire fight in dark cool ways around budget limitations
  • Casey and Sarah’s reactions when they believe Chuck has been killed
  • Chuck and Morgan hiding under table in the dark
  • Casey and Sarah agreeing to help Chuck find MamaB and keep it from Beckman
  • Did I mention Linda Hamilton is MamaB and a kickass one at that!! Woah! Great closing scene and her character and codename – Frost – leaves us with mixed signals.

Team B - Ready To Take On The World
The episode really hits its stride in the second half of the episode when Team Barktowski all converge in Russia. From Morgan’s, ‘Respect the beard,’ and ‘Michael CarMichael,’ to Markus’s belief that Chuck and Morgan are master spies – hilarious and delivered with perfection by Dolph Lundgren – to Casey and Sarah’s reactions of grief and relief over Chuck to the off screen ChuckFu and fire fight to using a bus as a getaway vehicle; it is Chuck at its best.
To cap it off Chuck and Sarah reach a new agreement. No lies. No secrets. Chuck honors the agreement and brings Casey and Sarah fully in the fold. The show ends with Team Bartowski in synch, working as an unit, covering each other’s back, and ready to take on the man – er General Beckman in this case – and the world. Made even more so joyous because the team members are all in a good place.
To end on such a high is most welcome. Too bad it is marred slightly by the Chuck and Ellie scene where Chuck feels compelled to keep the secret from Ellie. The delay is somewhat bearable because of Ellie’s announcement of impending motherhood. This episode made vast gains in having the pretenses within the Bartowski clan dropped. Let us hope for some form of swift resolution between Chuck and Ellie too.
Linda Hamilton’s appearance as MamaB in the closing scene really left the episode on a high. Linda still cuts a very menacing Sarah Connor type persona and her ruthless take down not only impressed but added a layer of mixed comprehension for the audience. Who exactly is this Frost person? Cannot wait to find out and cannot wait to see MamaB’s return and eventual meeting with Sarah.
No doubt about it. Linda Hamilton IS MamaB! And she’ll be back.
Season 4 is off to a very solid start.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chuck - Episode 3.18 & 3.19 Reviews

Science Fiction, Double Feature, Picture Shaw
Episode 3.18 - Chuck Vs The Subway
Episode 3.19 - Chuck Vs the Ring II
3.18 - Written by Ali Adler, Matt Miller & Phil Klemmer
3.18 - Directed by Matt Shakman
3.19 - Written by Chris Fedak & Josh Schwartz
3.19 - Directed by Robert Duncan McNeil
''Two Bartowski's. Double the fun.'
Wow! Whew! Catch your breath yet? It has taken me awhile. Already intellectually and emotionally fatigued by the Lost series finale the night before – fantastic BTW – approaching the Chuck Season 3 Finale included some trepidation. Heading into the Chuck double header in a fatigued state is not the best situation. My fears prove unfounded as Chuck delivered its best season finale of the series. Chuck Versus The Subway is the perfect episode. The events contained within it were truly series's defining and character changing ones for all the Bartowski clan.
He's Baaaaaacccccckkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!
So, with apologies to the theme song of the Rocky Horror picture and its fans plus my occasional lapse into bad puns ie Shaw instead of Show, let us dive into the goodness that episodes 3.18 and 3.19 gave Chuck fans. The title of this review is most fitting because these two episodes had a real SF vibe to them as the tech of the Intersect and PapaB was mixed with the tension of Chuck unravelling mentally all while the menancing spectre of Daniel Shaw lurked as a dangerous presence to the members of Team Bartowski and their loved ones. Cap off all of that with the expansion of the Bartowski family backstory and the genesis – or the continuation of the Orion legacy – of Chuck's next step in his heroic journey. What more can a fan ask for?
At the end of Chuck Vs The Tooth Chuck was experiencing Intersect fueled dreams about Daniel Shaw being alive. We knew those dreams were true. We also knew that Shaw had downloaded a Ring version of Intersect; Ringtersect anyone? Chuck Versus The Subway is the swansong for writers Ali Addler, Matt Miller, and Phil Klemmer. And what a swansong it is. Subway is brimming with emotion, action, drama, and revelations. It is also the swansong episode for PapaB. We may get to see him in future episodes in Jor-El type videos but it is doubtful that Orion will be brought back from the dead. Even more so than Shaw and Bryce it would not feel right to do so. The finale is about the passing of the torch from a father to his children. Mainly Chuck and, I hope the showrunners see it that way, Ellie as well.
Chuck & Sarah - They Have Come A Long Way
This episode did so many things right with the pinnacle being the strengthening of the bonds between the main players of the cast. What precipitated that was the truth of the spy world revealed to Ellie. With everyone in the know the barriers between characters have been finally lowered. Instead of deflection the characters can share mutual reflection. Instead of being kept at arm's length to hide the truth, characters can now reaffirm bonds that existed before Bryce sent Chuck the email in the pilot. The benefits of finally allowing Chuck and Ellie to have open conversations again is immediately apparent. Sarah Lancaster was finally given some new material to work with and it is a development the show would be well advised to continue.
Mercifully the resurrection of Shaw as the villain worked for the most part. There were even flashes of above adequate enjoyable bits from Shaw from the knocking on the subway car door to his evil guy laugh. The disdain that the fandom had for the character and his history with Chuck and Sarah added that extra level of tension needed for a nemesis. The weak part of his return is the undercooked aspect of Shaw's motivation of going totally Ring and becoming fixated on killing Chuck. This does not jibe with his arc of revenge for his wife's death and wanting to punish the person responsible; Sarah.
Morgan - Two Thumbs Up Despite The Detonator Accident
What more can be said about Scott Bakula as Stephen J. Bartowski? Scott brought so many things to the character and he will be sorely missed. PapaB's actions during the Subway episode illustrated the bluerprint for how Chuck, and Team Bartowski, should handle things. His smarts are dramatized over and over again in identifying Shaw at the Subway station, using Ellie to find the Ring Base, breaking Chuck out of the CIA holding cell, and the building of the Governor.
Above all that was his heart and the premium he placed on family and keeping them safe. We knew what he had done for Ellie and Chuck. It was not until the final scenes that the true scope of what PapaB had done, and sacrificed, became known. PapaB's approach to how to protect his family may not have been the best one but it worked for him.   What worked for him does not mean it would work for Chuck and Ellie. Plus they have an advantage. They have each other and the rest of Team Barktowski to watch their backs.
Episode Flashes: (Lots of them. Proof these episodes were packed with goodies):
For 3.18:
  • Chuck hovering over his father's shoulder as PapaB works on Chuck's Governor
  • PapaB 'talking' Chuck down
  • Sarah's touching extending to PapaB
  • Awesome not looking as Awesome as usual
  • Morgan breaking the news to Devon about Ellie – 'How could she do this to us?'
  • Casey surreptiously checking up on his daughter
  • Chuck and Sarah sharing a blueberry in the Farmer's Market – so...... normal
  • Knock, knock, knock - Shaw reveal in the subway car
  • PapaB working the Castle computers to track Shaw
  • Jeff and Lester 'consoling' Devon
  • 'Its my dream come true. Ellie is exactly like Chuck but with lady parts.' Jeff – creepy funny
  • Sarah discovers TeamB is in a CIA not Ring building
  • Chuck and Ellie come face to face – 'Chuck, I thought you quit KungFu in the third grade.'
  • Chuck barging into Beckman's hearing on the value of the Intersect project
  • Shaw walking into the hearing – he gets a slomo entrance – still waiting for Chuck's BTW!
  • Shaw playing the Hearing and Sarah's reaction to learning Chuck's mental condition
  • Casey and Sarah go to the aid of their loved ones
  • Devon accidentally spills the beans about Chuck to Ellie – Ellie takes charge!
  • Casey protects Alex who seems pretty capable herself
  • PapaB works his tech magic and frees Chuck from CIA lockdown
  • Casey growling at Justin over apple pie
  • Casey revealing to Alex that he is her father and protecting her escape
  • 'Oh and you can blame the CIA for my bachelor party. Stripper?. She was an agent. Told you I didn't cheat. Faithful!' Devon vindicated!
  • 'Morgan Grimes, the boy that took my pillow as his date to junior prom, knows more about my family being spies than I do.'
  • Sarah clocking Shaw. Nice callback to Shaw clocking Rafe. New scumbag in town.
  • Beckman's desperate Princess Leia plea, 'You are our only hope.' Morgan and Devon not sure to whom she was pleading with. LOL!!
  • The Bartowski's playing it smart
  • Shaw's evil – 'Moowahaha'
  • McTiernan Industries – shoutout to action director John McTiernan(Die Hard, Predator)?
  • Sarah and Casey's pride at Chuck's spy skills – 'Picked a good one Walker. Finally'
  • Ringtersect sure is slick looking
  • Shaw puts down PapaB! 'Always remember son. You're special.'
  • Is anyone more expressive than Ellie?
  • 'Check out the fresh fish' – another Shawshank reference
  • 'You might want to stand back. This could explode. Ummm yeah...OK' Morgan is priceless!
  • 'There is no one left to save us.' Ellie, Devon, and Morgan jump to the rescue.
Episode Flashes for 3.19
  • Ellie showing spy skills tailing the armored car
  • little Chuck and Ellie and the seeds of why Ellie looks after Chuck so fiercely
  • 'No plan? That never stopped me before.' LOL Morgan is so priceless!
  • Glovebox!
  • Casey's Crown Vic could give the Green Hornet's Black Beauty a run for its money – missile launcher!
  • Ellie puts her foot down and keeping her promise to protect Chuck.
  • Big Mike's 'Moses' phone – shades of the Batphone.
  • Chuck getting to tell Ellie that their dad was a great man.
  • Chuck using PapaB-like skills to communicate with Beckman.
  • 'Who are the Elders? They sound scary. World of WarCraft scary.' - Guess who!
  • TeamB unites to take on Shaw and the Ring Elders.
  • Chuck and Sarah in disguise sharing winks before putting the plan into action
  • Morgan and Casey cracking the Conference database
  • Morgan waking up Casey's paternal instincts
  • Chuck conning Shaw into a confession and capturing the Ring Elders – shades of Quantum of Solace anyone? Though Bond never used the Mexican Hat Dance ring tone!
  • Muzzle down Morgan!
  • Morgan breaking his thumbs for naught
  • Morgan has mad nose touch iPhone skills!
  • Pineapples! The Sequel.
  • Chuck GETS his slomo entrance. Yay!
  • Ewww! Shaw's flash look is even creepy.
  • Jeffster- Blaze of Glory!
  • Shaw and Chuck square off.
  • Wow – Chuck intersected as a young boy. Very intriguing.
  • Sarah delivering the final blow to Shaw and racing to get the Governor back to Chuck and her look of relief at doing so.
  • Morgan is all er no thumbs with the detonator.
  • Lester- 'Did we do that?' Bye-bye Buy More.
  • Jeffster! Fugitives! Band on the Run!
  • TeamB family gathers to remember PapaB and welcomes Alex into the fold.
  • The, 'Oh boy,' that Chuck mutters as the Orion signature screen comes up on his computer monitor?  A subtle 'passing of the torch' moment.  Love it.
  • Chuck's promise to Ellie about leaving the spy world will be short lived as he discovers the Bartowski legacy and the hope of finding MamaB.
  • ChuckCave! Shades of the warehouse from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark too.
  • Orion and Hydra!
Stephen J. Bartowski to Chuck and Ellie - 'There is nothing in this whole world you two can't fix if you work together.'
Could that line be the Mission Statement for the series going forward? Three seasons in and the entertainment value in trying to perserve the barrier between the spy world and the real world have been played out. As each character found out about Chuck's dual life more dramatic doors opened than the ones that were closed. With Ellie in the loop and the setup in the closing moments the more entertaining avenue now would be to bring everyone into the fold and pick up the mantle of Orion's legacy rather than try to perpetuate a new series of lies.
With the Chuck and Sarah relationship resolved and all the characters free to talk openly to one another, there is much more story telling manuveuring room. With these obstacles removed and the attendant effort to maintain no longer necessary, those energies can now be turned towards creating a more fleshed out show mythology. Instead of maintaining divisive constructs the show can now focus on unifying ones.
Goodbye BuyMore?
Chuck works best when it balances all the elements equally.   Chuck Vs The Subway is the showcase episode for doing that.  With the exception of Chuck Vs Santa Claus has there been a better episode where all the main cast members are used so equally and effectively?  This is my all time favorite episode of the series.  Thanks to Ali Adler, Matt Miller & Phil Klemmer for gifting us with this episode before departing.  Best of luck to each of you on your new endeavors!
And Hello ChuckCave?
So endeth the Third Season of Chuck. What a journey it has been. It is amazing to take the characters of this season and compare them against previous seasons. The growth and evolution has been fantastic. The execution of those changes faltered from time to time which is too bad. Fortunately the show righted itself and these final two episodes have the show pointed in a most promising direction.
As to what that direction might be, look for an upcoming article that explores the possibilities of Season 4.
MamaB! Hydra, by any chance? Season 4 - Family Matters....
I had a lot of fun writing these reviews and hope you enjoyed reading them.  Thanks to Mel for giving me a place to put down my thoughts.  Hope to do it again for Season 4.
Have a great summer everyone!  See you in September.