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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Third Dimension"

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Hi there. In case you haven't heard, Chuck is in 3D tonight. That is all.

Wait, but you've heard, because it was all over the Super Bowl. All. Over. It. I swear, I think there was a commercial during every single freakin' break—and in a flash of "brilliance," they chose to pair them with that weird CGI movie that's probably not going to be good and a Sobe Life Water commercial. (Synergy!) If I wasn't already a fan of this show, I probably wouldn't want to watch just out of sheer exhaustion.

But I take comfort in two things now: First, what a killer show of support from NBC for a show that desperately needs viewers. Even if the campaign annoys some, it's sure to draw a few newbies out of curiosity. And—here's the best part—once they actually do watch, they'll see the smart, legitimately silly show that people like us have been enjoying (and championing) for a while now.

Well, good thing tonight's Chuck was… well, it was okay, and the 3Dness was more of a novelty than anything. I donned the cheap paper dealies (snagged from a friend who had taken 10 or so from a local supermarket) when Morgan asked me to, but was having a hard time adjusting—maybe it's because I wear glasses (my prescription 3D lenses are in the shop), but it was difficult to find a good place to look through. I abandoned them completely once Sarah came out in black lingerie—because I wasn't going to miss that, weird red lines be damned—then tried again back at the Buy More. I found some success by flattening the lens part and holding them over my face, so I proceeded to take it all in.

Turns out, Chuck in 3D is pretty nifty, for about 15 seconds. Because of the way the show is shot, episodes tend to go from back-and-forth over-the-shoulder shots for dialogue, mixed with multiple shots at different angles to capture action sequences. In both cases tonight, my eye had to adjust to each cut, which ensured a viewing experience akin to watching someone put on a play with a bunch of holograms. So even though I was sure there were going to be at least a few cool moments later on, I decided to go glassesless for the remainder of the episode—starting after the 3D show-off countdown scene ending with Chuck and crew throwing a bomb in a refrigerator (Indiana Jones callback?).

The rest was mostly gimmick-free, but pretty straight-forward, at least by Chuck standards. The lead singer of a band called Drive Shaft makes an appearance at the Buy More, but it turns out he's wanted dead by evil agents of mystery. (Also, his appearance seems to be literally that—nary a CD, nor chest, was signed.) Chuck, Casey, and Sarah drug him up and take him into custody, and Chuck is asked to keep an eye on him. But this is DRIVE SHAFT, known for hits like "You All Everybody," and "That song from Desmond's flashback," so the guy has a "rockstar metabolism" that makes short work of the tranqs. He wakes up, and demands Chuck come party with him. And our guy, who hasn't had a day off in God knows how long, is quick to oblige.

Then there are all these hot ladies around, and it's all, "Damn, what's up with all these hot ladies getting in my BIDness?" But then these, like, ridID-to-the-reDONCulous hot ladies come by, and convince Charlie to take them up to his room, with Chuck in tow. But blah-dee-blah, they're evil, try to stab, fail, a knife flies at the screen—I curse my lack of red and blue eyewear—and Sarah and Casey swoop in to save the day and say, "Chuck, what are you doing?" Per usual. The rest of the episode is equally predictable—the first plan fails, so the team concocts an even bigger plan to bring the killer out from hiding; this time, they tell our ironically mulletted friend from the television show Lost (seen on the American Broadcasting Company) to play the gig anyway, and, hey, he'll be the bait! And even though Sarah and Casey are standing by, Chuck is forced to fend for himself/crowdsurf.

I can understand why this Chuck had to be a bit more "by the book" than previous episodes: Presumably, the Super Bowl push would work, and a horde of new viewers would tune in tonight, knowing nothing about the types of sheeeeeit that goes down over here. Thankfully, this is Chuck, so even this routine procedure enjoyed as much fun as time and plot allowed. Dominic Monaghan got to show off his comic side, which came off like the blissful ignorance leveraged by Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. ("That's not a good idea." "Some of the best nights of my life begin with that very sentence.") Meanwhile, the Buy More chapter—Morgan forcing the rest of the staff (and guest Jerome Bettis) through a series of trials to win a "golden ticket" hidden in a CD—wasn't as good as it could have been, but gave Jeff plenty of opportunities to show off his, well, Jeff-ness. The image of him scarfing down the urinal cake—prematurely—springs to mind, as does his wholly awkward, "Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'." Given next week's episode is about the team investigating Anna's new boyfriend, consider tonight simply a warm-up for the main event.

Grade: B-

Stray observations:

  • "He's never heard of you." "I've never heard of him either!"
  • This episode was like brand central: They eat Subway sandwiches, and was that a Sobe Life Water Bettis was drinking?
  • Peronally, I was thrilled to see the always sound "First is the worst, second is the best" logic flaunted on national TV.
  • What's Kurt Warner doing on Biggest Losers: Couples? Sheesh. Kick a guy when he's down, why don't you?

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