Where Chuck Season Five Went Wrong

chuck

*Spoiler Alert*

Sorry to be late to the review party but at the end of season four of Chuck when Morgan said, “guys, I know Kung Fu”… I was out.  However, times goes by, I bought a roku box and streamed season five over the past few days.

I really enjoyed the first fours seasons and had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Gomez (Morgan Grimes) and Vik Sahay (Lester Patel) on my show Filmnut.

The formula on the Chuck where geek turned hero, gets the girl, plus campy humor, and enough action to boot, was great.  Throw in some fabulous recurring guest stars like Scott Bakula and Linda Hamilton and Chuck was rocking.  (At least among its loyal fans.)

The season five arc with Morgan having the intersect turned out okay.  Gomez is a funny dude, with great comedic timing.  Didn’t have a problem with it.

Bottom line on season five is the creators failed to realize two key points about what draws fans to shows like Chuck:

chuckkickThe first is the superhero element.  As fun as it might be to watch Alfred troll around as Batman for a little while, or Mary Jane Watson to have Spiderman’s power, we the audience want to see Bruce Wayne be Batman and Peter Parker as Spiderman.  To watch our heroes adapt to being “normal” can be a good brief aside so long as we get to see them return to their bad-ass self.

Yes Chuck (Zachary Levi) gets the intersect back in the final episode but that was too little too late.

chuck-sarahThe second is the relationship between geek/ nerd turned hero, and the girl he could never get.  In this case Chuck and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski).  By giving them a less than a ride off into the sunset ending, it leaves the audience feeling a little empty, a little less complete.  By robbing Sarah of her memories, you kind of rob the audience of them too.

The season five ending would have been far better if it was in fact a season ending episode and not a series ending episode.

Chuck wasn’t an independent film with a dark point to make.  It was a light show with no plausible reason to go in the direction it did.  I think sometimes in series finales, (talking in general here) creators try to get too creative, not be predictable, or are just too stubborn to give the audience what it wants.

Predictable can be very good if it is well executed and you care about the characters.  No need to be different just for the sake of being different.

The season also had too many villains, and too many times where first Chuck, then Sarah, then Chuck, then Sarah, commenting on how they didn’t want to be spies anymore.  Okay I get it.  Daniel Shaw, (Brandon Routh) was a great villain, I would have preferred him to be involved in the last few episodes (if not the whole season) rather than the middle.

Small item, why did Quinn (Angus Macfadyen) wait and not put on the intersect glasses sooner???

Why did Chuck get the glasses/ intersect back just to open a box?  This was the best version of the intersect.

  • A- we should have seen him do some stunts with it that we hadn’t seen before.  Or something 3.0ish.
  • B- with the last scene on the beach, he could have said something like, “I wish I could give you your memories back Sarah”, and then flashed, showing images of the brain, etc..

That ending would imply that with the new intersect he could have done it. And the audience could have smiled and let out a sigh of relief.

I did dig the Jeffster.  I though Jeff (Scott Krinsky) becoming intelligent once he stopped breathing in exhaust fumes and Lester’s response was great.

The comedic subplots throughout this season and the run of the show were often entertaining.  As much as I wanted to go back to the action, I usually found myself shaking my head and smiling or laughing at the lovable losers.

Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) were integrated well in season five, though given the history of the show, I find it hard to believe they would leave Chuck and move to Chicago.

Acting wise, I thought the entire cast did a great job and wish them well in their future efforts.

In a parallel universe, I see a different story line where Chuck and Sarah stop Shaw and move into their dream house at the end of the finale.  And I see a wedding with Morgan and Alex (Mekenna Melvin), with Casey (Adam Baldwin) sitting arm and arm with Gertrude (Carrie-Anne Moss). Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) is doing the marrying, of course Chuck is the Best Man, and the Jeffster is providing the music.

To Intervene or Not To Intervene… A No Win Situation For the U.S.?

cable-news-logos

There are many issues that polarize us in the United States.  The list includes: Gun control, abortion, same-sex marriage, health care and taxes.  When to use and when to not use military force is another.

The reports that Syria may have used chemical weapons on its own people have some anticipating this debate once again.

No matter the atrocities being committed in certain areas of the world, there are Americans who believe, that in most circumstances, America should not intervene.   One reason is the collateral damage of innocent civilians being killed.  Though not the policy of the U.S., it does occur, and should never be taken lightly.

The argument is then put forth that by our actions to stop evil in conflicts that do not directly involve us, or to defeat terrorism, we are creating more terrorists for the future.

However, on Meet The Press, yesterday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) raised an interesting counterpoint:

**“… the Syrian people are angry and bitter at the United States. I was in a refugee camp in Jordan, and there are thousands of people and kids, and this woman who’s a schoolteacher said, Senator McCain, you see these children here, they’re going to take revenge on those people who refuse to help them. They’re angry and bitter. And that legacy could last for a long time, too, unless we assist them.”

Before you reach a conclusion about that, please allow me to ask you two things:

First, let’s look at two other polarizing issues in this country: health care and taxes.  There are 35 to 50 million people in America who have do not have health insurance.  Then there are those 1%ers.  The highest income earners, who many feel should be paying higher taxes to help pay for the affordable care act, (Obama Care), and other needs.  Forget whether you agree or disagree with the tax component for a moment.  That is irrelevant to this discussion.

classwarOne look at an Occupy Wall Street rally informs us that there are many in this country that do feel there is inequity between the rich and the poor.  They resent the 1% for doing nothing, or not doing enough, when so many are suffering.  Imagine how the Occupiers would feel about those 1% if instead of lacking health coverage, their family member died in a bomb explosion or chemical attack that they believe we could have stopped?  Is it possible this person would grow up a terrorist?

Second example.   Imagine a gang with guns is harassing you and your family.  While this is going on, out of the corner of your eye, you notice person after person walking by.  Every person that walks by has a gun in his or her hand.  They could attempt to stop the gang harassing you and your family but they don’t.  Two members of your family die.  How do you feel about those people who walked by and did nothing?

Now imagine this occurred in a war-torn foreign land and the surviving victim  is angry and bitter about his loss.  Then a terrorist group comes knocking on his door explaining how “the Great Satin” could have stopped it but they were working with the enemy.  Could this possibly enrage and manipulate this person enough to join their cause?

This isn’t about right and wrong.  It is about perception.  Many will correctly blame the gang committing the actual crime.  But some if not many may either blame or worse will be manipulated into seeking revenge against those who did nothing when they could have done something.

So the dilemma is that the possibility remains that we can create future terrorists by our actions and or by our inaction.

If action or inaction can potentially create a future enemy, with all things being equal, do you think we should defend an innocent family against that gang, terrorists or possible genocide?

This isn’t a call to arms for military action in Syria.  In fact, Senator McCain, in the same paragraph as the one I quoted above also said:

But the worst thing the American– the United States could do right now is put boots on the ground in Syria. That would– that would turn the people against us.

It must be stated that, even if negated, the potential of creating future terrorists or enemies is but one concern over the use of force.  The loss of our own blood and treasure is very real and paramount to such a discussion.

Idealistically, I never believe we should stand by and watch innocents get slaughtered because it happens outside of our borders.  However, practically we are one nation in a sea of many.  Economically we are struggling.  Our own house is not in order.

In the hypothetical example of those people walking past that family that were being terrorized by the gang– They all had guns, but some of them may have been out of bullets.  Doesn’t mean they couldn’t do anything, but it explains why they didn’t want to intervene alone.

flagsMilitarily, when the situation calls for it, there are other countries that can, should and must share certain burdens of responsibility with us.  Our aid, and intervention should always be contingent on:

  • Burden of proof being met.
  • conditions at home.
  • The coalition(s) we are able to form
  • when time permits, exhausting other non military options first.

These are obligations the government owes we the people, before we ask our young men and women to risk their lives.

So there are no easy answers.  Each situation will present unique circumstances.  Depending on the time in history we may have a different ability to help.  Situations are also fluid and minds should be opened to being changed as circumstances change and new evidence presents itself.

When it comes to creating future terrorists, if we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t, than we should be free to do what is right independent of that consideration.

####

**For an entire transcript of the John McCain interview on Meet The Press, click here.

What Would You Do? A Question About Guns

OReillyCostas

Fox NewsBill O’Reilly asked NBC’s Bob Costas if he was in that movie theater in Aurora Colorado when the mass shooting occurred, on the night of the last Batman premiere, would he prefer to have had a gun to protect himself or be defenseless hiding on the floor, hoping not to be killed?

Before I go on, here is the back-story:

In the wake of the murder suicide perpetuated by Kansas City Chiefs football play Jovan Belcher on December 1st, comments were made by NBC analyst Bob Costas during the broadcast of Sunday night football that has since sparked more debate and controversy than the heinous crime itself.  Costas was paraphrasing parts of an article written by FOXSports.com writer Jason Whitlock in which he talks about the culture of guns and that if Belcher didn’t have a gun, two more people would be alive.

Without taking sides on gun control, I can say that I do think it was inappropriate for Costas to comment when and how he did.  He was in fact “politicizing” an issue in a moment of mourning when the wounds of the tragedy were still open and sensitive to the touch.  Regardless of how you feel about the gun issue, in grand moments, when an issue captures national attention, and is of emotional concern, to borrow a sports term, it is time for a timeout, from where we disagree.

It should be a moment of coming together.  With the right sensitivity, the togetherness of the moment could then possibly be used as a means of having that serious conversation of how we can learn and improve things.  In this case, not only as it pertains to guns, but also mental illness and domestic violence.

If you’re reading this and are anti-gun or in favor of repealing the second amendment, imagine how you would have felt if instead of stating that Belcher and his girlfriend would still be alive if he didn’t have a gun, Costas spent a minute stating that Kasandra Perkins might still be alive if only she had a gun to protect herself?  Those comments would not have been appropriate either.

costas-belcher

I applaud Costas’ intentions.  The criticism he has faced is overstated but that is a byproduct of the sheer volume of the transmedia we have today.  It is just the way it is anytime someone veers off the politically correct course.

This criticism landed Costas in a chair opposite Bill O’Reilly and the question O’Reilly posed at the beginning of this blog.  Costas said he wouldn’t want a gun.  O’Reilly said he would.

Now that the proverbial can of worms is open, I will dive in.

My comment is this, the question posed by O’Reilly is incomplete and I would like to add another scenario.  Your choice is: to not have a gun, or for everyone in the theater to have a gun.

In this scenario maybe James Holmes never attacks that night.  But for the moment since he had body armor and superior weaponry lets assume he did.  My next question for the gun carrying audience is how well trained are they with their guns?  How accurate a shot are they?  How do they respond under this type of pressure?  Do they have an itchy trigger finger?   How will each individual respond to the shock of initial gunfire?  Will they know, immediately, who the attacker is, or might they mistake a fellow theatergoer as the attacker and shoot at them?  Or maybe they know who the attacker is but a stray bullet finds an unintended target.

The pro gun crowd likes to talk about personal responsibility and remove blame from guns.  Okay Bill O’Reilly.  If you’re in that theater and you’re carrying a gun and stand up and shoot me instead of James Holmes, you should go to jail for involuntary manslaughter and my family is suing you for wrongful death.  While I do respect your right to bear arms, you do also bear the responsibility of your actions.

Like many issues, spanning from dependency on foreign oil, social security, and immigration, gun control and its myriad of issues keeps getting kicked down the road.

And while Costas’ timing was admittedly off, he and Whitlock raise valid points about the gun culture, so rather then let that timing obscure the issue, can we have that conversation now?  Can we take action now?  Not to repeal the 2nd amendment, (I support it) but to evaluate and update its regulation, education, and enforcement?

Last question.  If you were in a movie theater.  One that was going to be attacked by a man in bulletproof body armor and assault weapons.  Would you rather everyone in that theater had a gun or that everyone did not?