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Chuck: The Complete First Season Review

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Nerd has computer in his brain. Chaos ensues

★★★★★

There’s something refreshing in the fact that, aside from two throwaway lines in the pilot episode, no effort at all is made to explain the mechanism behind the high concept of Chuck. Nominally, the idea that reading an email can download the contents of a government super-computer, containing all the shared information of the NSA and CIA, into the brain of an ordinary Joe might seem barmy. But by totally ignoring the issue, creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak essentially sidestep any whiff of sci-fi in favour of silly but engaging antics that fall somewhere between Bond and MacGuyver.

The show’s secret weapon is star Zachary Levi, nailing the geeky insecurity and personal charm needed to create a compelling character as professional nerd Chuck, thrust into a world of high espionage despite his unsuitability. He’s equally convincing in dryly witty and completely panicked modes, and does good work with the tiny amounts of backstory that the show’s pace permits.

Around him are CIA agent/love interest Sarah Walker (Sophia Myles-alike Yvonne Strahovski), NSA agent/potential nemesis John Casey (the always reliable Adam Baldwin), Chuck’s doctor sister (Sarah Lancaster) and her boyfriend Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin), “because everything he does is awesome”. Rather less successful is slacker sidekick Morgan (Joshua Gomez), who is a tad too irritating to convince and becomes rather wearing.

Sadly, this short first season doesn’t develop much beyond a terrorist-of-the-week format, lacking any real progression beyond the ever-present threat of our hero being interned by the government for his own safety. But we hope for better things, and a decent villain, in season two.

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