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King of Kong: Video Games Can Save Your Life on "Chuck"

So it's true: video games can save your life, after all.

Just ask Chuck Bartowski, who proved my point on last night's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer") by reaching the kill screen of classic arcade game Missile Command in order to avert nuclear disaster (or sizable civilian casualties).

While it wasn't quite as strong as last week's superlative episode, this week's installment of Chuck--written by Phil Klemmer (Veronica Mars)--had more than a lot going for it, including focusing on secondary (or in his case, tertiary) character Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and fleshing out his King of Kong-inspired backstory (which involved being an early '80s video game legend... at least in the Valley) and forcing Chuck to interact with the Buy More gang for a change.

This week's episode also memorably introduced efficiency expert Emmett Milbarge (played with aplomb by Arrested Development's Tony Hale), who will be sticking around as the store's cutthroat assistant manager and--one can't help but hope--becomes a bit of a thorn in Chuck's side as he becomes aware of the fact that our beloved Chuck Bartowski isn't quite the model employee everyone thinks he is. In fact, more often that not, Chuck is jetting around saving the world instead of fixing computers, a cover that the CIA and NSA haven't been too good about maintaining.

I was pleased as punch, however, that Sarah thought to get the CIA and NSA to use Chuck's field service as fulfillment of his missing twelve credits at Stanford. The fact that Chuck hasn't had his college diploma (or, even, a means of getting one what with moonlighting as an intelligence asset) has haunted the series since the beginning... and Ellie was right to get on Chuck's case about dropping his "big plans." While we know Chuck isn't the slacker that Ellie believes him to be, it's fair to say that Chuck's life didn't quite turn out the way he wanted it to and most of that was due to everything falling apart at Stanford. (And helped along the way by Jill and Bryce Larkin.) Armed with his diploma, Chuck is now positioned to do something more with his life... if the economy wasn't in the toilet, that is.

And Sarah's actions also displayed the fact that she really care for Chuck, even if she can't be with him in the way that he wants her to be. Unlike some series which create arbitrary rules for why their romantic leads can't just go off and love one another, Chuck has been very clear about the moral and legal reasons why Sarah can't fall in love with her asset. Though it doesn't mean that she won't stoop to using the federal government to do something for Chuck that he is unable (and somewhat unwilling) to do himself. Ah, love.

I liked seeing Chuck and Jeff together and how their newfound, er, camaraderie irritated the hell out of respective sidekicks Morgan and Lester. I would have, however, pushed this a little more to bring out another side to their characters and added an additional patina of male jealousy to the mix. Loved seeing more of Jeff's serial-killer-in-the-making side vis-a-vis his creepy music video mix of Anna. (Especially loved the shots with her attempting to block his camera.)

Which brings me to my next point: I miss Anna. She's barely been a player in Season Two and I was hoping to see more of her as she is my favorite Buy More employee. That said, we did get a great Anna moment last night as she is interviewed by Emmett and talks about how she speaks more than one language... leading Emmett to write "Prostitute?" on her evaluation form.

Absolutely loved the moment where Chuck realized that the mathematical formula to Missile Command was the same as that found in the music of Rush. (Clever boy.) Turning to Morgan to get some Rush on ASAP, Morgan says that he has some on his Zune. Incredulous, Chuck is surprised that Morgan even owns a Zune. Morgan, of course, doesn't: he'll pull some Rush off of his iPod. Classic.

In two weeks on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Ex"), Chuck does everything in his power to impress ex-girlfriend Jill (guest star Jordana Brewster), but learns that the path to her heart leads to a deadly bio-weapon conspiracy.


greebs said…
One of the quiet gems of the episode was that when they were setting up the video game for the challenge, I believe they played an "updated" version of "You've Got The Touch!" which was the song sang in Boogie Nights by Dirk Diggler. THAT is good stuff.

And more Anna for sure!
Great episode but I was hoping they'd do a little more with the fabulous Tony Hale. The introduction of his character wasn't very satisfying and he was overshadowed by a video game. If only they'd been playing The Claw game...then we'd have seen some real action from the new assistant manager!
Anonymous said…
IMHO I thought it was a pretty weak episode. There could have been alot more done with Jeff and Chuck and Sarah was barely in it. Hoping next week is better.
Anonymous said…
I liked seeing Sarah and Ellie together, both concerned about Chuck.

I hope Hale's character gains more depth. It'll be boring if he's just the uptight, strict manager character. There was a hint of more when he confided in Chuck about his girlfriend.

Not clear on the legal reasons why Sarah can't be with Chuck. In an earlier ep, Sarah was concerned about Chuck as more than an asset and didn't perform her job as well, putting both her and Chuck at risk. That's why she pulled back from him.
Brad said…
greebs--That version of "You've Got the Touch" was actually from the 1986 Transformers movie, which Boogie Nights covered.
Still, I smiled when it came on.

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