For the geeks like myself who love CHUCK, “Vs. The Leftovers” was filled with the kind of pop culture chocolatey goodness that you couldn’t help smiling throughout while watching. First off, you get Linda Hamilton as Mom Bartowski saving the life of Chuck (Zachary Levi) and then saying the infamous TERMINATOR line “Come with me if you want to live.”
The last thing I would ever call CHUCK’s super-hot spy Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) is “the giant blonde she-male.” Yet, that becomes one of the funnier running gags on “Vs. Phase 3,” an episode where Chuck (Zachary Levi) is fighting for his life and the loss of brain cells in Thailand as villain Adelbert De Smet (Richard Chamberlain) goes digging in his brain for the Intersect.
Well, we’re back to relationship woes as a centerpiece on CHUCK. In “Vs. The First Fight”, it’s all about Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) having their first big fight as a couple.
The problem is, it’s not really that big of fight. Sarah arrested Chuck’s turncoat spy mom Mary (Linda Hamilton) and didn’t tell him. That’s not a fight, that’s betrayal. Get your emotions correct.
Robert Englund, aka Freddy Krueger himself, plays Dr. Stanley Wheelwright, the creator of toxin that creates waking nightmares in “Vs. The Aisle of Terror,” another great episode of the spy series CHUCK that adds a more beefed up role for Linda Hamilton as Chuck’s mom Mary and a return guest spot for Morgan Fairchild as Captain Awesome’s mom.
Let’s get back to the toxin first. Englund is a scientist who has created the toxin and wants to put it out on the open market. Mary who claims she is deep undercover as Frost, wants to meet up with Chuck so he can purchase the toxin for the C.I.A. and get it off the market.
Someone behind-the-scenes at CHUCK must have been paying attention to how much the quality control had been suffering the last couple of weeks and made some drastic changes that got the show back on track. With “Vs. The Couch” we get a Casey-centric episode which finally gives the under-utilized Adam Baldwin some cool stuff to do after being sidelined the last couple of weeks as his character had an “injury.”
There are only a few shows I look forward to week after week like CHUCK, yet the first part of Season Four has produced three rather lackluster episodes in a row. The show is fumbling. It doesn’t know what to do with the relationship between Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) resulting in silly shtick like (“is our relationship going good?” “Would she marry me if I asked her?”) as opposed to finding quirkier ways of handling these topics that don’t feel as forced.
Something has definitely been off with CHUCK in its fourth season. Maybe making Chuck (Zachary Levi) more of a spy has actually taken the edge off of why the show was so charming in the first place – he was an average guy put in extraordinary circumstances he was incapable of dealing with alone. Add to that the “will they or won’t they” relationship between Chuck and fellow spy Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) completely gone since they’ve consummated and become a couple. Now the show has had to stoop to relationship woes to keep their romance alive and chemistry. Unfortunately, when the relationship woes include Sarah upset that Chuck eventually wants to have kids and get married, it seems so pat and obvious for a show like CHUCK that’s always been so clever and different in the handling of this type of material.
Very few shows can successfully reinvent themselves year after year and still retain their audience and their charms. Yet CHUCK, now heading into its fourth season on NBC, has once again rebooted with “Vs. The Anniversary” and damn, it was kick-ass opener.
Whereas last year focused on former Buy More employee Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) learning how to become an expert spy (and growing up), Season Four begins with Chuck realizing he’s now a spy and can’t escape who he is.
It doesn’t look like it’s going to be an easy transition for CHUCK in Season Four. While the premiere episode was as excellent as a reboot return that could be hoped for, the second episode “Vs. The Suitcase” is a mixed bag. With Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) having a seemingly perfect relationship as loving spies, there is an Achilles Heel – Sarah lives out of a suitcase, ready for the next mission but hasn’t given in to moving her stuff in to Chuck’s closet.