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Mini TV Watch: 'Chuck'

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Chuck_lAfter weeks of seemingly endless advertisements airing on TV, billboards, and even at the bottom of your EW.com screen, Chuck finally had its premiere last night. And boy, was I glad NBC shoved the show down our throats because Chuck was surprisingly quite good.

Brought to us by creator Josh Schwartz (of The O.C. fame) and director McG (of the Charlie’s Angels films), Chuck is the story of an L.A.-based everyday Joe who unwittingly finds himself the target of government investigation after viewing encrypted top-secret messages. And Schwartz and McG’s presence in the pilot could not be more welcomed — Chuck has just enough angst and snappy dialogue to satisfy even the most loyal of O.C. fans, and enough fun-loving action to draw in devotees of the genre. Within the first ten minutes, for example, we not only get a chase scene that seems to take its cues from Casino Royale, but also banter between Chuck and his sister (played with grace by What About Brian’s Sarah Lancaster) that manages to be both humorous and heartwarming.

This blend of action, comedy and heart is a good foundation for any network television show. But it’s the cast that really makes Chuck work. At the center of it all is the self-described “nerd” Chuck Bartowski, a socially awkward and insecure electronic-store employee whose idea of action is playing several rounds of Call of Duty. Zachary Levi (pictured) — channeling The Office’s John Krasinski — plays the title character with a kind of quirky poise that makes it easy to root for the anti-hero. How can you not love a guy who still pines over long-lost loves, makes a joke about cannibalism on a first date, and films a young ballerina’s performance after her father forgets to buy a tape for his camcorder? And while Chuck is fighting ninjas, diffusing bombs and dodging all sorts of bullets (thanks to his newfound top-secret knowledge), fellow cast members only improve the show: Yvonne Strezechowski makes bullet-proof vests sexy as CIA agent Sarah, Adam Baldwin seems to have gone to the Kiefer Sutherland school of intimidation before undertaking the role of NSA protector Casey, and Joshua Gomez gives Seth Green a run for his money in his portrayal of an annoying twit. And how could I leave out “Captain Awesome,” who is, let’s face it, a pretty awesome character?

Of course, with all the character development that goes along a pilot like Chuck‘s,it was difficult to hone in on last night’s secondary plot. We know thestoryline in the pilot had something to do with a U.S. general, a bomband a guy with a “Terminator-vibe,” but it was difficult topiece the puzzle together over the course of one hour (though Chuck didseem to do so in a matter of seconds, helped by the image of a pie,among other things). But plot didn’t seem to matter — all we needed toknow is that the title character saved the day and will continue to doso — pocket protector and all. But here’s hoping we see future episodeswith more intriguing — and identifiable — storylines.

Tell me, PopWatchers, what did you think about the show? Will you continue tuning in to see Chuck‘snext move? And do you also wonder why Bryce — the man who stole Chuck’sgirlfriend and got him kicked out of Stanford — would screw the poorguy over again by sending him all the government’s biggest secrets?

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