I’ve spent the last month or so binge-watching Chuck, the show about a computer nerd who accidentally gets all the CIA and NSA secrets downloaded into his brain, and two things have really stood out to me: excellent character development for almost everybody and Adam Baldwin’s face.
Let’s start with the character development, because seriously. Zachary Levi’s character Chuck goes from being a Nerd Herder full of wasted potential (the Nerd Herd being analogous for Best Buy’s Geek Squad) to a full-fledged CIA spy over the course of four years and still seems like the same person at his core, just with more confidence and responsibilities. I don’t feel like I’m watching a brand new character who just happens to have Chuck’s face. And it’s not wholly unbelievable, providing you can accept the show’s premise in the first place.
It probably helps that there were a lot of transition points taking Chuck through being the reluctant participant, to wanting the Intersect out of his head entirely, to feeling a responsibility to it and finally to actively wanting to make use of it and be who it allows him to be. And if you’re so inclined, you can also track Chuck’s personal development by the style of his hair. What? Is that just me?
But Chuck’s not the only one to grow in this series. There’s also loads of personal growth sandwiched into this show for his sister, his best friend and the two agents assigned to protect, then train, then support Chuck as he develops.
Which brings us to Adam Baldwin’s face.
Maybe it’s because his character Casey’s default seems to be glaring, grunting and growling (there’s a reason Sarah’s dad — played wonderfully by Gary Cole, I might add — refers to him as “Cop Face” all the time), or maybe it’s because my previous exposure is from Firefly and Angel, but when Baldwin gets the chance to do something different on Chuck, it’s really something else. My personal favorite expressions — because there are few tropes I like more than “teammate in peril” — are the shocked sad ones that come when Chuck seems to be unavoidably dead or otherwise incapacitated, whether that danger is from a bomb, being outgunned, or the Intersect itself as it starts to overwhelm Chuck’s mind.
Of course, there’s something to be said for Cop Face expressions, too.
I’m two episodes away from finishing season four, and after that, it’s uncharted territory for me. I didn’t get to see season five as it aired, and after that I kept putting it off until I felt like doing a proper rewatch, which I think this definitely qualifies as. Netflix says I watched the pilot episode on Dec. 15, 2013. That probably says more about me than anything else, but I think it also says something pretty good about the quality of this show.
Onward to season five!
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