Sometimes I just don’t get the idea of opening credits. If they’re the same every week, they steal precious screen time in a world where good shows get canceled way too often. And if they change to reflect changes in the show, it’s a spoiler – as with Anna not being present in the credits in this episode. It actually gets worse, as this episode’s credits still feature the Buy More, while the teaser had me wonder whether the show is about to experience a retooling of some sort.
Instead, what we get is a “hero must overcome temporary slump in order to return to form” episode. The teaser sets this up by flash-forwarding to show us the supposedly spied-up Chuck, and once it becomes clear things aren’t as great as they seem, we flash back to learn why, and then flash forward again to see Chuck trying to get over it. It’s actually more confusing on screen.
Between all this confusion, the show manages its weekly dose of plot holes and transparent plot devices. For instance, Devon hangs a nice lampshade over Chuck being a target due to his spy past, but why Chuck is left unprotected is a question that I asked myself from the beginning of the episode.
In the general sense, Chuck overcoming the aforementioned slump is too clearly a plot device to maintain status quo, and it comes at the cost of the Chuck-Sarah relationship is not only in the plot sense but in the sense that things between them never seemed more forced. The only promising development in this episode was the concept of Chuck as potentially dangerous.
All that said, Chuck isn’t really a drama. Everything is eventually played for laughs, and laughs can certainly be had from this episode. If it’s Chuck’s downfall into being a bum, or Emmet’s downfall into a stack of boxes – It’s all done with a silly tune and well-timed comic comebacks. It’s hard to be disappointed with Chuck when it delivers as a spy/action film spoof – It’s something that no one else does successfully on TV today.
A nice surprise was that the episode featured a lower-than-usual amount of product placement (even the Cheese Balls have their logo barely featured and are referred to as “Cheese Puffs”). Chauvinism and sexism are also barely present, which I think proves that Chuck can be funny without them.
Wait for it: The funniest scene would have to be Chuck doing his Latino guitar thing, but I got spoiled about this a few months back. So the funniest moment for me was Jeff approaching Chuck as a model employee. A true moment of comic horror.
Welcome to the world of tomorrow: While I didn’t enjoy the flashbacks, I really loved the camera work on them. The second flashback specifically is obviously done with green screen, but the lighting gives is it a stylized-”Sky Captain and the world of Tomorrow”-feel. I was just talking with people about how Avatar is great in the sense that you don’t feel a green screen, but I guess green screen isn’t always a bad thing.
Speaking of Green Screen, here’s something you should see.