Chuck!

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Chris

Chris lives in Austin, TX, where he once shook Willie Nelson's hand.

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17 Responses

  1. I don’t know that I could say “this season was good” and “this season was bad” about Chuck. I think it would be fair to say Season 2 was best. The later seasons weren’t bad per se, but there certainly were some challenge-of-the-week episodes that if you edited out would raise those seasons from average to very good. Of course, that requires someone to tell you which episodes were safe to skip.

    I agree with you about the music. Somehow even though the budget constraints showed through everywhere else, they maintained their spending on music (and perhaps on guest stars). Some of those action scenes in seasons 4 and 5 were quite painful to watch though–especially anything involving Morgan.
    ——
    All the Gotan Project albums are awesome even if you’re not otherwise into tango. In fact, it might be better if you’re not into tango since those folks seem to very much be traditionalists and doing anything other than a cover of a prior classic using the same instrumentation as whoever popularized it means you aren’t playing real tango.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      We stopped watching after Season 3 (though we own Seasons 4 and 5 and they’re sitting right there…).

      Seasons One and Two were marathonable. Maribou and I would sit on the couch and watch an episode and then look at each other and say “wanna watch another one?” and we’d take a quick potty break and make some popcorn and watch another four.

      Season Three was a slog. I’m told that Season Five brings it all home and is as good as the first two… but I feel obliged to get through Season Four first…Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’ve only just started season 5, so I can’t give you a verdict, but season 4 is at times a tough slog. I watched seasons 1-3 in a couple weeks, and it took me another 2 weeks to watch season 4 by itself. I kept finding other stuff to watch. I think part of it is their budget issues, but part of it is the writers just having no idea what to do with Chuck’s personality (in season 1 and 2, you’re thinking, “Of course Sarah would fall for him,” and in season 4, you’re thinking, “Why the hell would Sarah fall for him?”). I am hoping season 5 is easier.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Jaybird says:

        Season 5 does bring it all home…in the better episodes. The last two episodes in particular are as good of a finale as I can remember having been done. That said, there are some episodes that are really quite weak. At times it really does right by its viewers and at times it’s an hour wasted.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        Actually, Vikram reminded me of something; there were times, when I was falling out of love with Chuck, that I thought it might have played better as half-hour (well, 22-minute) episodes. They often just didn’t have enough material for a full hour (well, 43 minutes).Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    Part of the reason music can be so good on these TV shows (even when it’s music that would be…improbable…for the characters to listen to) is not just because the showmakers have good taste (though they often do) – it’s also usually cheaper to use a song from indie/relatively-unknown band X than it is from megapopular artist Y.

    Chuck showed how 50/50 “dramedy” is one of the hardest mixes to sustain over time. Comedies generally depend on hitting the reset button – once you have a reliable ensemble and good concept/setting, your best bet is to bounce them off each other ad infinitum; people are happy to just hang out in Cheers and listen to those people crack jokes once again.

    But dramas need forward motion, they need characters and relationships to change; stasis is their death.

    After a season or two of Chuck (which we LOVED at the outset) it seemed that the two elements, rather than reinforcing each other, were holding each other back, and we tired of it, and stopped watching.

    So with a name like Alexi Murdoch, I assumed he was Scots – but he’s English. He wants to be Nick Drake in a bad way, doesn’t he?

    “I might fall asleep while I’m singing” style. Even the emotional climaxes are so subdued that, in a strange way, it gives them more punch. It is as though things have gotten so intense that his voice has been taken from him almost completely.

    ^^^That does it, I’m going to have to get around to that Seam post one day.

    I saw Matt Pond PA kind of by accident – he/they used to play a local bar here a lot. After the first time I went back for at least one more. Good live act.

    I saw Gogol Bordello in Germany, and it was a GOOD show, but a LONG one. I was kind of done with it before it was over.

    Challengers is the one NP album I don’t own. You may enjoy this appreciation they just did over at AVClub:

    http://www.avclub.com/article/how-challengers-became-the-new-pornographers-most–201189Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

      On Chuck, I agree with your take. In this particular case, they had a character who was whiny and talked too much, and the emotional tension of his will-they-won’t-they relationship with Sarah, and then he got together with Sarah, became an actual spy, and remained whiny and talked too much… in the middle of missions. And it just got old, because they clearly didn’t know how to make him evolve. Oh well.

      But the music remains awesome, even on (or perhaps as you note, as a result of) their increasingly low budget.

      On Murdoch: I didn’t listen to him for years because I was so over “Orange Sky,” but he started popping up on Pandora about a year or so ago, so I started listening again, and he’s not bad. I just can’t hear “Orange Sky” very often, or I will be done with him.

      I saw Matt Pond PA a couple years ago, and they were good live. I’d see them again.

      Gogol Bordello I have not seen. Did any weddings and/or bar fights break out?

      Oh, and New Pornographers… they are undeniably good. I mean, really good. Sometimes they have that superband feel, though, where you recognize that they’re really, really good, but there’s something missing. That’s why I prefer the songs with Neko Case doing the lead vocals, because whatever it is they have missing (soul, maybe), she can’t help but have.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris says:

        NP’s are good, but I agree about the Neko songs (and I think I am in the minority, but I prefer the Dan Bejar songs too).

        It’s not so much that Newman’s songs lack soul, exactly; it’s that they are often (IMO) paradoxically too much of a good thing.

        He stuffs so many hooks and climaxes into each song that they get exhausting. It’s like hitting play on an entire album’s worth of Cheap Trick songs at the same time.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Glyph says:

      it’s also usually cheaper to use a song from indie/relatively-unknown band X than it is from megapopular artist Y.

      Ah, that’s an interesting and plausible theory. Though I thought the rights for songs were fixed fee based on the number of viewers rather than negotiated based on the quality of the song.

      If fees are variable, you would think there would be plenty of bad music to pick from too, wouldn’t you?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        They are definitely not flat fees, and it can be very expensive to use a well-known artist/song; even if you bite the bullet and pay the fee for broadcast, you have to pay it again for subsequent media releases like DVD etc.

        It’s why some music-heavy series’ DVD releases are delayed (IIRC both WKRP and Freaks and Geeks had this happen), or just come out on DVD with different music (I think The State did this), because they weren’t able to (re)secure the music rights quickly at an agreeable price.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Glyph says:

      I stuck around for season 3, at leas partly because I’m a Brandon Routh fan. With the 3rd season finale, it seems like they were taking really wonderful steps to make sure their show didn’t get stale: Puhpx dhvg gur PVN. Gur Ohl-Zber ohearq qbja. N arj tbny, bar jurer vg jbhyq frrz ernfbanoyr gb xrrc Fnenu naq Pnfrl va gur qnex ohg funer rirelguvat jvgu Ryyvr.

      And then I saw the season premier of season 4 where they reverted all of those changes in one episode, and I just decided to quit then and there.Report

  3. It wasn’t surprising that Chuck had good music since it was produced/created/whatever by some of the people behing The OC, which also had great music.

    I enjoyed the first season of Chuck quite a bit. The second season was good, but it was during this season that my enjoyment started to decline. I thought the third season was really hit-and-miss… with a lot of big misses. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it went to five seasons.

    A funny scene in Season One came at the end of the Hallowe’en episode. Chuck and his friend (Morgan?) had a tiff, and at the end of the episode, Chuck came running in to the Hallowe’en party to reconcile. It was in slo-mo and was a total spoof on a scene from season one of The OC in which Ryan runs into a New Years party to kiss Marissa just before midnight. It was a nice inside joke to fans of both shows.

    And in both scenes, they used this lovely song from Finley Quaye:

    Report

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