Throw in one part nerdy computer repairman, one part quirky friend, two parts awkward housemates (sister and sister’s boyfriend) and one part super-hot-secret-agent woman, blend on high for an hour and out comes “Chuck,” NBC’s best hope for a new hit this season.
Chuck (Zachary Levi, “Less Than Perfect”) is a computer repairman at Nerd Herd, a division of Buy More, two cheap but funny jabs at Best Buy and its technology-repair center. Chuck is a normal guy stuck in a job he likes but doesn’t want to do until retirement. Then his ex-roommate – the same one who got him kicked out of Stanford (and became a rogue CIA agent) – sends him a mysterious e-mail with a slew of pictures vital to national security. This happens just before the old roomie’s death and is the beginning of the adventure of Chuck’s monotonous life.
Enter the National Security Agency and its merry band of henchmen, notably Agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin, “Firefly”). Throughout the pilot, Agent Casey is portrayed exclusively as “the dark agent,” while in the second episode his character deepens, as we find out that he is also there to “help” Chuck. Also among the henchmen – on the CIA side – is the very fine Sarah Walker (the Australian actress Yvonne Strzechowski), who Chuck eventually dates. For her, it’s mostly business, but for Chuck, it’s a long-awaited opportunity.
But what sets “Chuck” apart from other shows are its nuances more than its setup. The show goes exactly where the viewer expects without growing dull. Going to the expected can be dangerous – the writers run a very real risk of losing the audience. “Chuck’s” genius is actually that the plot leans on clich