Archive for June 9th, 2009
In the television programme Alias Jennifer Garner is a spy who infiltrates non-descript stage sets using a different wig every week whilst at the same time struggling to keep her true identity a secret from her friends. It lasted five seasons. Chuck is the same concept but with laughs (and no wigs) and it has just been re-newed for a third season.
Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) is supposed to be some sort of loveable loser but since he seems to be happy, affluent, attractive with an interesting job he enjoys he isn’t much of a loser at all. He just doesn’t have a girlfriend. Then one day his old college roommate emails him a message which visually imprints a basilisk-type super-computer in his brain. Suddenly Chuck becomes a major security asset. After a ludicrously implausible power struggle betwen the NSA’s John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and the CIA’s Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) they decide to act as joint handlers with Casey posing as his neighbour and colleague and Walker posing as his girlfriend. I think you can see where this is going.
It is all entirely predictable. The plots are stupid, tedious and repetitive and the will-they-won’t-they drags on and on. The makers are obviously aware of this and so from time to time inject some big revelation try and shake things up. This invariably turns out to be a damp though.
Thankfully the Writers Guild of America strike meant that the first season is only thirteen episodes long. I say thankfully not because Chuck is terrible – in small doses it is fun – but because it is so desperately thin. Often I would expect an episode to finish only to find there was still an interminable coda to follow. In fact, it should really have been written as 30 minute sitcom episodes. Either that or a 90 minute movie. So yeah, inoffensive and occassionally pretty funny, but there is only so long you can spin this stuff out for.
My review of Nights Of Villjamur has generated quite a few comments over at Strange Horizons. In fact, more than any of my other ones. (Red Seas Under Red Skies, another “core genre” fantasy novel, is the only one that has come close.) The conversation – if you can call it that – continues in this thread over at OF Blog Of The Fallen.
As it happens, my next review for Strange Horizons is another fantasy novel: God Of Clocks by Alan Campbell. It will be interesting to see how many comments this (positive) review attracts.