Chuck should be threatened with cancellation more often. The first three episodes of the NBC spy comedy's third season have been some of the best to date, rebooting the show and bringing it into sharper focus than ever before. Spoilers!
The two-night, three-episode launch of the new season was also a good decision on NBC's part, bringing new viewers up to speed on the status quo of everything they'll need to know about the characters, relationships and even mysterious badguys filling the show this year. For we faithful viewers, we got to see what "Intersect 2.0" actually means, as well as enjoying some great Casey moments (What's with the new fake moustache thing?).
It helped that each of the three episodes gave attention to different members of the show's core trinity: "Chuck Versus The Pink Slip" was Chuck's reboot - for the character as well as the show, complete with The Big Lebowski shout-outs (Complete with "I Just Dropped In To See What Condition My Condition Was In"!) - and, thankfully, some admission that returning to the BuyMore and undercover semi-spy world was a regression in many ways. That wasn't to say it didn't include surprises - Seriously, who saw Emmett's death coming? - but, really, it was all about getting the team back together, much to Chuck's glee. "Chuck Versus The Three Words" continued that, in a way, by giving us the (admittedly predictable) backstory to what had happened to Chuck and Sarah post-season 2, as well as letting Sarah realize for maybe the twenty-third time that Chuck loves her, and last night's "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" was Casey's time to shine, alongside a surprising and very welcome Awesome spotlight (Including Sarah's punchline "He would've made an awesome spy"; Ah, if only...). What was so... well, awesome, wasn't necessarily the ideas behind the episodes, but the execution of them - The writers seemingly having worked out the tonal problems from the past (In part by not forcing the BuyMore into episodes when there's no space - Last night didn't feature any BuyMore scenes at all, and was all the better for it), and also decided that the new Intersect gives them license to parody the more ridiculous spy cliches wherever possible: Apparently, in the right circumstances, Chuck is an excellent surgeon, dancer and guitar player. What wasn't uploaded into that thing?
(Also fun: The actors clearly enjoying themselves making the show - Adam Baldwin seems to have perfected the chewing scenery art of the growl by now, and Zachary Levi's broad doubletakes are a fun slapstick guilty pleasure.)
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I'm not so sure about the apparent "Chuck is so powerful he's a danger to others" idea that I feel we're going to see a lot more of; so much of what we've seen so far overplays the idea that Chuck can't access the information at the right time that the idea that he'll somehow become a superman is just a little unconvincing, but I guess that'll change over the next few episodes. Even if it doesn't, though, I'm happy that Chuck is back, especially based upon the quality of the opening episodes: Very few shows carry off the mix of comedy, adventure and soap opera as well as this one does. Just don't kill off Awesome, okay?