by Eric Goldman
Chuck was a highly entertaining and fun show from the start, but unfortunately it got its first season cut short by the writers' strike and was off the air for many months. But after the long wait, the good news is the show came back just as strong, and ultimately showed it could go to even better and more engaging places as Season 2 progressed.
Season 2 picked up with Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) still stuck with the Intersect computer in his head, making him a valuable resource to the US government, whether he liked it or not. A continuing plot line through the season involved attempts to make a new Intersect, both by the government and by Chuck's enemy group, Fulcrum. In the meantime, Chuck kept flashing on various people, places and things, setting in motion plenty of new adventures.
Even as someone who gravitates much more to serialized drama than procedurals, I found Chuck to be a show that consistently delivered enjoyable episodes week after week, even when the ongoing plotlines took a back seat. This was helped considerably by the inclusion of plenty of great guest stars, including John Larroquette as a washed up spy, Dominic Monaghan as an out of control rock star Chuck ends up partying with, Jordana Brewster as Chuck's ex-girlfriend, and Gary Cole as the father of Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski).
Chuck creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak continued to prove they knew how to use their guests in particularly strong and clever ways, even if they initially seemed questionable. It was hard not to groan hearing Nicole Richie would be guest starring in an episode, and yet not only was she surprisingly strong, in terms of her performance, but if you hated her, you got to see Strahovski kick Richie's butt in a crowd-pleasing girl fight set to "Smack My Bitch Up" â set in a high school gym shower, with water pouring down, no less.
Schwartz had already shown his skill with pop culture references and music on The OC, and that continued to play an integral role in making Chuck such a great show. One of the season's best episodes, "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer," turned out to be some sort of center of geek nirvana, as it included pivotal uses of Missile Command, an attempt to break into Atari headquarters, the Rush song "Tom Sawyer" (hence the title) and the Transformers: The Movie classic, "The Touch." There were also plenty of Easter egg type references throughout the season, including character names, which included Richie as the high school bitch Heather Chandler and Tricia Helfer as the hard ass and lethal CIA agent Alex Forest.
Regarding some minor complaints, I will say I wish that overall, Adam Baldwin got a bit more to do as John Casey. Casey is given plenty of funny moments and scenes, which Baldwin does terrifically, but for much of the season, Casey was mostly relegated to giving Chuck some sarcastic attitude, without many other storylines â and unfortunately, the one episode totally focused on him, "Chuck Versus The Sensei", turned out to be the weakest of the season. However, Casey at least had an important and exciting role in the penultimate episode of the season, "Chuck Versus The Colonel."
As for Chuck and Sarah's will they or won't they dynamic, I am impressed at how long the producers have been able to sustain it and give it some truly heartbreaking and layered moments â certainly, the dark and emotionally charged end of the excellent "Chuck Versus the Santa Claus" showed how much could be done with these two characters having such an attraction towards one another, and yet facing a lot of major differences in their lives and notable obstacles. That being said, after two seasons, the attempts to keep them apart are becoming more forced, and hopefully some big moments near the end of the season mark a shift in their dynamic for the future of the show.