Top 10 Reasons Why I Like ‘Chuck’

September 30, 2008

Last night Chuck returned for its first episode since January, launching its sophomore season with “Chuck vs. the First Date” and I’m instantly reminded of what attracted me to the series last year.

For newbies, the show worked in a nice recap into the first 10 minutes.  Normal guy Chuck is going about his everyday business when a former friend from college, now turned spy, emails him with a file encrypted in pictures containing government secrets known as the Intersect.  The only other version of the Intersect is destroyed and Chuck is inadvertently drafted into the CIA and assigned Sarah (CIA) and Casey (NSA) to protect him.

This show is a nice break from all the question-filled dramas that I normally watch.  Chuck is a fun show that makes me laugh and sit back and relax.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons why I love this show.

1.  Adam Baldwin

Baldwin stars as Casey, the gung ho NSA agent always ready to shoot now and ask questions later.  The intimidating tough guy, who poses as a Buy More employee to keep tabs on Chuck, has a delightful dry humor.  For instance, in this episode, Casey crashes into a restaurant to save Sarah and Chuck, asking “Someone order drive thru?”

Casey is a simple man dedicated to serving his country.  He loves his gun, his Crown Vic and Ronald Regan.  But despite his devotion to the job, Casey has developed a soft spot for Chuck as we saw when he hesitated to terminate Chuck.

2.  Pop Culture References

I love it when a show can work in pop culture references.  It’s like a conversation with friends.  And Chuck is full of these references – most of them involving Chuck’s inner geek.  Last night references included a Comic Con poster, a subtle reference to Back to the Future with Chuck waking up to Huey Lewis songs and a Godfather impersonation.

But my favorite of the night was when Chuck was talking about his future with his sister Ellie and she asks what he wants to do and then says please don’t tell me you want to “pilot the Millennium Falcon.”

3. Chuck

Chuck is anything but James Bond.  But the reluctant spy is finally starting to embrace his alter ego, Charles Carmichael.  He has knack for getting into trouble all on his own, but add the fact that he has government secrets in his head, a best pal who majors in mayhem and a gift for never staying in the car when told and you can see how pandemonium rules Chuck’s humdrum life.

Oh didn’t I mention, Chuck’s track record with women.  He never got over the girl he lost to the same so-called friend who sent him the Intersect – at least until he met Sarah.  But their working relationship keeps his puppy crush sidelined.

4.  The Best Friend

Chuck’s life is complimented – or is that complicated – by the devotion of his slacker best friend Morgan.  The “little bearded man” has made a science out of doing nothing.

But Morgan doesn’t know about Chuck’s secret spy life and often complicates Chuck’s ability to save the world – and score with Sarah – with a scheme or two of his own.  Add Morgan’s creepy crush on Ellie and Chuck’s got a friend that’s just too weird to be true.

5.  The Buy More Staff

Chuck works at Buy More, a big electronics company that might remind you of someplace you might have shopped, as a member of the Nerd Herd described as “Geek Chic – In Overdrive.”  Chuck, Morgan and Casey work for “Big” Mike who is equal parts babysitter and ringmaster.

But the real heart of the store lies in its employees who – led by the master of chaos, Morgan – manage to never do any work because they are always too busy with some crazy scheme.  In last night’s episode Morgan conducted a cage match between Lester and Jeff to see who would get the assistant manager position.  Don’t you wish that’s how promotions worked at your job?

6.  Guest Stars

This series has some great guest stars.  Last year Rachel Bilson played a potential love interest for Chuck.  In the Season 2 premiere, Michael Clarke Duncan starred as this week’s nemesis, Mr. Colt, who told Chuck “I assume you find me imposing.”  I found him imposing and a great adversary for our top spies.

Next week it looks like John Larroquette and Melinda Clarke are up for guest spots.

7.  Captain Awesome

Awesome is Ellie’s jock boyfriend who response to everything is “awesome.”  You just got to like a character with depth like that!

8.  The Over Protective Sister

Ellie has been taking care of Chuck since their parents died.  She’s great as the over protective sister eagerly wanting the best for her brother, but hesitant to meddle in his life – too much.

9.  Cool Episode Titles

Each weekly episode is titled Chuck vs. something.  It’s consistent and descriptive.  I think my favorite had to be “Chuck vs. the Imported Salami.”  It says it all!

10.  The sets

There’s, of course, the Buy More filled with every electronic gadget needed and more, including all the latest spy equipment.  Then there’s the great restaurants that serve as Sarah cover – first Wienerliciouse, now Orange Orange.

But my favorite is the apartment complex where Chuck lives with Ellie and Awesome.  Look familiar?  It’s the old Melrose Place set.  You’ve got to like a show that recycles a piece of television history.

Honorable Mention

I’m adding this reason in just for my husband, since he seems to enjoy these scenes so much.  This show seems to find every reason possible to have a scene where Sarah gets dressed.

Seriously, all kidding aside, Chuck is a great show when you need a little fun in your day.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out.  If you have, tell me why you like Chuck.


Heroes’ Sylar Goes to Work for Mommy in ‘One of Us’

September 30, 2008

Paternity seems to be the key to the shockers on the third season of Heroes.  Last week we learned that Angela is Sylar’s mom and this week in “One of Us, One of Them” we find another one of our heroes questioning their origins.

Working with HRG, Sylar poses as an FBI agent, complete with Irish accent.

Working with HRG, Sylar poses as an FBI agent, complete with Irish accent.

After a tender bonding moment (as if Angela knows anything about maternal nurturing) in which Mama Petrelli tells Sylar – excuse me “Gabriel” – that she’s sorry she gave him up for adoption and promises to provide him with inspiration, guidance and comfort, Angela serves Sylar lunch – I mean a new power. 

Why does she give him the power to read the history of any object?  Is she expecting him to need that particular power in her plans for him?  Or was she just offering him a power as a peace offering?

Next Angela partners Sylar with the one man who hates him most – HRG.  She believes that Noah – who insists he hasn’t reenlisted but simply wants to return the escapes – can provide Sylar with the structure he needs.

Despite protesting that Sylar is a killer, Noah agrees to take Sylar to rein in Jesse/Present Peter, Knox, The German and Flint.  Looks like HRG will play mentor to Sylar . . . at least until he finds Sylar’s weakness.

Meanwhile Angela’s youngest son (at least of the ones we know about) is still trapped in Jesse’s body.  Jesse is originally from Las Vegas.  Anyone else think that’s more than just a coincidence?  It seems like everyone on this show is either from New York, Las Vegas, Texas or California.  Could Jesse be related to one of our other Vegas residents or former residents?  Maybe he’s Linderman’s son?

Either way, Jesse is jonesing for revenge against HRG and has masterminded the current plan to rob this bank and draw out HRG.  However, Peter’s resistance to the plan make it easy for the others to figure out he’s not the real Jesse.

After a little fear – or maybe its adrenaline – Peter discovers – and uses – Jesse’s Black Canary-like power before Future Peter shows up to free him.  But the whole “possession” leaves a few questions.

Did Peter have access to his own powers while he was hijacked?  Now that he’s come in contact with Jesse’s power has he acquired it?  Where was the real Jesse during Peter inhabitation?  Was he also in there?  And where did the two Peter’s go?

When Future Peter rescues his present self (anyone confused yet), he leaves HRG at the mercy of Jesse and his flunkies – until Sylar saves the day, but not without acquiring a new power.  Guess Sylar’s reformation isn’t complete.

HRG and Sylar return to Level 5 in Hartsdale, NY with Flint.  The German and Jesse are dead — those stories were short-lived. And Knox is still on the loose. 

Daphne comes between Hiro and Ando.

Daphne comes between Hiro and Ando.

Also in Level 5 are Hiro and Ando.  Seems they tried to relieve the Haitian of Angela’s half of the doomsday formula in Berlin only to have it stolen by Daphne while they argued between themselves over Ando’s “sidekick” status.

Meanwhile, Matt continues his “spirit walk” with Usutu in Africa, discovering a series of paintings Usutu has done of Parkman’s life beginning with his encounter with Molly.  All the paintings have come to be except one – of Matt with a woman holding a baby.  Did anyone think the woman looked like Daphne?

But Usutu tells him the future has changed, then goes all white eyes and paints over it.  In the new picture, Matt is carrying a woman that is injured/dead.  I still think it could be Daphne.  Matt asks if he can change the future and Usutu helps him meditate.

Claire is trying to do some changing of her own.  Tired of being a victim, she asks Meredith to help her learn to fight using her powers.  Instead Meredith tries to scare her into giving up her vengeance plan and focus on being a teenager.

Claire says sure, pretends to be the good cheerleader and heads out on her own mission with a Primatech box in tow.

Back in DC, Nathan – sans any visits from the mysterious Linderman vision – gets swore in.  But it’s Tracy that’s the real story of the night.  When Nathan visits her she is clearly struggling to grasp the apparently newly revealed power to freeze and continues to deny any knowledge of Niki Saunders.

Tracy goes to Micah for answers about Niki.

Tracy goes to Micah for answers about Niki.

After a visit with Micah at a funeral home in New Orleans, Tracy discovers that she and Niki share a birth date and a birth place, but not a body.  Tracy is a separate person from Niki, not a separate personality.  And Tracy – and presumably Niki – were created by one Dr. Zimmerman.  Big questions here.

Who is Dr. Zimmerman?  Exactly how did he create Tracy?  Did he create Niki too?  Or was she the model from which Tracy was created?  And who did he think Tracy was when he answered the door?  Did he call her Bobba?

What is Zimmerman’s relationship to The Company?  There’s no way someone was creating people with powers and The Company not know about it.  What does this mean for the other people with powers?  Has he had a hand it that?  Could he be Sylar’s papa/creator too?

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode?

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Should Children’s Books Have a Rating System?

September 27, 2008

A recent article has me wondering if we should be taking a closer look at what we qualify as “children’s books.”

A recent article said that a bookstore in Shanghai is pulling the children’s book “Book of Bunny Suicides:  Little Fluffy Rabbits Who Just Don’t Want to Live Anymore’ after a rash of suicides by children and teens.

I had mixed emotions when I read this article.  In general, I’m against book banning.  Authors should be free to express their opinions.

And I don’t really believe that a normal, healthy kid read this book and then suddenly wanted to commit suicide.  I’m not even sure it even really gives a kid ideas for how to commit suicide since some of these illustrations are unrealistic — head in a DVD player for instance.

But what I am wondering is how this book got classified as a children’s book.  It’s definitely not age appropriate for young kids.

Suicide is a very sensitive subject that kids – and many adults, myself included – don’t entirely understand.  I can understand why there might be a book in the children’s section explaining to a child how to deal with it when a friend, family member or other loved one commits suicide.

But why would a book mocking suicide be considered a children’s book?  Because it has cute little bunnies in it?  If that’s the qualification, then we really need to look at how a book gets classified as a children’s book.

I recently read The Golden Compass.  When I went to buy the book, I found it in the children’s section.  Sure the story deals with the adventure of a little girl, but the book itself is a fantasy that deals with some pretty dark themes. 

While I wouldn’t call the book scary, I did have some very gloomy dreams when I read it.  And I wondered how it would affect a young reader.

After reading this book, I wouldn’t let my child read this book until they were well into their teens.  How did this book get classified in the children’s section?

So my question is do we need to be more diligently in accurately classifying books (i.e just because it had cute little bunnies in it doesn’t mean it’s meant for children) or do we need to take it a step further? Do we need a rating system (like we have for movies, video games, music) for children’s books?

Supernatural’s Dean Grapples with his Mission from God in “Are You There, God”

September 26, 2008

Apparently I’m not the only one reeling from Supernatural’s revelation that Dean was pulled from Hell by Castiel, the Angel of Thursday, on orders from God.  Dean himself is still grappling with the fact in “Are You There, God? It’s Me . . .  Dean Winchester.”

Castiel's revelations baffle Dean.


In fact, Dean is struggling to believe that angels exist despite the angelic handprints on his shoulders.  But can you really blame the guy?

I mean think of the things this guy has seen over the years – including his own mother’s fiery death.  It’s got to be easier to believe that there is no God then to believe that he lets these kinds of things happen.

But I think that what’s even harder for Dean to handle that the existence of God and angels is that he might be an instrument in God’s plan – that he’s significant enough for God to not only notice him, but have him pulled from the depths of Hell.  After all he thinks of himself as just a regular guy.

Dean’s never done the hunting thing because it was the right thing to do or that it was his ticket to Heaven.  It was just how he was raised.  And he always wants to stick it to the bastards – and those like them – that hurt the ones he loved.  Family is very important to Dean.

But as much as Dean’s unwilling to take the leap of faith that there is a higher power, despite – as Sam puts it – actual proof, the idea that the apocalypse is on the horizon blows him away.

When ghosts of souls hunters have been unable to save start reappearing and taking vengeance on the hunters in a ritual know as the Rising of the Witness, Bobby finds information on the ritual from a book whose “widely distributed version is just for tourists” and is known as Revelations.

The boys defeat these ghosts and return their souls to rest.  And then Dean gets another visit from Castiel.

We learn when Dean says that he thought angels were suppose to be like “Michael Landon, not dicks” that angels aren’t guardians who perch on shoulders – they are warriors of God.  And while Dean and company were battling the witnesses, these soldiers were fighting other battles.

Anyone else think this Army of God sounds like another level of hunter?

So why is God’s army suddenly on Earth?  Castiel and others are trying to prevent Lilith from breaking the 66 seals that would release Lucifer to walk the Earth.

This revelation blows Dean away – Lucifer is more than just “a story they told at demon Sunday school.”

I can totally understand why Dean doesn’t believe in God, but I was shocked to believe that he didn’t believe in Lucifer after all the evil he’s seen.  Guess the two go hand in hand.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Dean handles his mission from God.  He’s never been one to follow orders and I can tell he’s not real thrilled with the meet and greets with Castiel.

But what exactly does Castiel want from Dean?  He’s not asked him for anything.  He’s just slowly dishing out information.  Is he going to want Dean to join forces with the angels?  Is Dean meant to fight battles the angels don’t have the manpower for?  Is Dean to become the angel’s hit man, going after certain demons?  And just how are Sam and the powers he’s been using going to fit in this picture?  Where is Ruby going to figure in?

This season has to be one of the most exciting ones yet.

Anyone else waiting for the Dean to embrace his new destiny, jump in the impala with Sam wearing sunglasses and say, “We’re on a mission from God.  It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.” And have Sam reply “Hit it.”

Next week we get to learn a bit about the boys’ past in “In the Beginning.”

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Zack is Back on Bones in ‘Perfect Pieces’

September 25, 2008

Since last season’s Bones finale, Zack has been missing from the series, presumably cooling his heels in a mental hospital after killing a man and aiding Gormogon.

00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.

BONES: Zack (Eric Millegan, R) returns to help Brennan (Emily Deschanel, C) and Booth (David Boreanaz, L) find the murderer of a writer found in a pond in the BONES episode

But tonight in “The Perfect Pieces in the Purple Pond” we learn that Zak has not been very far from the hearts of his former coworkers.

Apparently, Hodgins visits his “best friend” regularly bringing him puzzles to challenge him.  When Zack solves the one Hodgins brought him this time he names himself “King of the Loony Bin.”  Hodgins then talks about the current case with Zack, leaving him the file to review

Angela visits too.  It’s unclear whether Brennen and Cam stop by too, but they both have Zack on the brain.

Brennan tells Wendell Bray (Michael Terry), the latest Zack fill in and Brennan’s brightest scholarship student to not be distracted by the standard standards set by Zach.  Unfortunately, that’s not what distracts him.

Meanwhile, Cam tries to get Hodgins to move into Zack’s space because she thinks it would be easiest on Zack.  But Hodgins can’t.  He wishes that Zack was back.

But Booth tells him that Zack isn’t coming back.  Just then Zack walks into the lab with the key to solving the case.

When asked out he got out, Zack replies that Sweets helped him.  It seems that on one of Sweets’ counseling sessions with Zack, Zack stole the strip from his access card and put it on his “loony bin library card.”  He then later used that card to escape.

But back to the case.  A body cut in exactly 12 pieces and missing its head is found.  The body belongs to Jared Addison, an author that lives with his mother (Lisa Kaminir), collects action figures, suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and has excessively small feet as a result of some disease I can’t spell.

Jared was having an affair with a woman (Debra Christofferson) 28 years his senior and was trying to overcome his OCD in order to get back in the good graces of his publisher (Matt Doherty) when he died.

Wendell proves to be a pretty astute assistant coming up with a couple key pieces of information, but not before he misinterprets Brennen’s questions about relationships with older women.

In the end, it turns out the location of Jared’s missing head is key to finding his killer and Zack discovers that location.

While Booth and Bones go to retrieve the head and arrest the killer, Zack stops in at the diner with the rest of the crew.

But then he must return to the mental institute.  Booth drops Zack off with Sweets so it can look like Sweets checked him out.  But Sweets is clearly uncomfortable with being alone without security with Zack.

Booth makes Zack promise not to kill Sweets, but it’s what Zack tells Sweets after Booth leaves that really eases his mind.

Zach’s comment “I was wrong, not delusional” from the counseling session at the beginning of the show makes a lot more sense now.

What did you think of Zack’s return?  Should the team seek his help in the future even if he’s in the mental hospital?  Should they continue to try to find a replacement for Zack?

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What is the Mystery Behind Fringe’s Peter Bishop?

September 24, 2008

On the outside Fringe’s Peter Bishop seems like a nice guy pitching in to help solve the mystery behind The Pattern.  But there’s a lot about him that we don’t know and I think he’s hiding a mystery of his own – or maybe two.


Let’s start with what we know about Peter.


He didn’t have the best of childhoods.  When his father Walter was playing “mad scientist” his moods were erratic at best and after Walter was institutionalize, Peter severed all ties with his father.


In fact, he wanted to separate himself from his father so much that he dropped out of school.  But with an IQ as high as Peter’s, picking up skills is pretty easy.  He even posed as a college chemistry professor once.


Peter is a jack of all trades with a healthy dose of common sense too.  He’s the only one who “speaks Walter.”  And after last night’s episode, we know that Peter can play the piano and can read people (a skill acquired at the poker table).


When Olivia finds Peter, he’s in Bagdad setting up another temporary job and hiding from the gambling debts he’s acquired.


It takes blackmail to get him to help at first, but Peter willingly stays to babysit his father and help Olivia pursue The Pattern.  Is Peter really all that altruistic or does he have another motivation?


In “The Ghost Network” we saw Peter confront a guy in the diner that had been following Peter and Walter and taking pictures.  The man tells Peter “You were supposed to check in when you got home.”


Check in?  With whom?  Why?


Peter asks if the others know he’s there and threatens the guy.


Just who is Peter hiding from?  Is it the mob over his gambling debts or is it someone else?  Speaking of his gambling debts, just how did a street-wise math wiz lose that badly at the casinos?  And didn’t he just tell us in this episode how well he could read people?


I think Peter is hiding something and it has absolutely nothing to do with poker.  I don’t know what Peter’s gotten himself into, but I’m wondering if it is somehow (probably unbeknownst to him) going to turn out to be connected to The Pattern.


Then there’s Peter’s other mystery – the one I’m not even sure he knows about himself.


In the pilot, when Olivia first came to see Walter he knew that Peter had come with her and requested to see him.  Walter immediately inquired about Peter’s health and how he was doing.  I had originally chalked these questions up to some deeply buried fatherly concerned.  Now I’m not so sure.


Maybe it is fatherly concern, but not in the way you think.  In “The Same Old Story,” an episode about human cloning, Walter corners Olivia, asks her about Peter’s health and then asks her to keep what she read in Peter’s file about his medical history a secret.  A very confused Olivia tells Walter that the only thing in Peter’s file is his birth date.  Walter is relieved and then refuses to tell her anymore.


While I think that part of this scene is misdirection to let us think that maybe Peter is a clone, I think it does have some key clues.  I do not think Peter is a clone.  But once again, Walter is concerned about Peter’s health.  And there is something about that birth date that is going to come back again.  I wish they had given us the date.


Also, notice that we know absolutely nothing about Peter’s mom – not even her name.  And when Olivia asks Peter about her in “The Ghost Network” he tells Olivia “that’s a story for a different time” and quickly redirects the conversation.  It makes you really wonder who she is.


While I don’t think Peter is a clone, I do think that in some way Walter has experimented on him.  I’m just not sure how and why yet.  But I’m very sure it’s going to come into play at some time.


Also I can’t figure out if Walter’s inquiries are genuine concern about Peter because of his experiments or if it’s curiosity about the success/progress of the experiment.


So what do you think?  Is Peter hiding from someone?  Who?  Why is Walter so concerned about Peter’s health?  What did Walter think was in Peter’s file?


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House Tries to Replace Wilson in ‘Not Cancer’

September 24, 2008

This week’s House, leaves Dr. House still reeling from the news that Wilson has left Princeton-Plainsboro to get away from him.  In “Not Cancer” House must deal with the lost of his only friend.

House and Lucas.  Can Lucas fill Wilson's shoes?

House and Lucas. Can Lucas fill Wilson's shoes?

“What did Wilson do for me?” is the question House asks his team when transplant recipients start dropping like flies from illnesses not associated with their transplanted organ.

House is talking about the diagnosis of cancer, but the question becomes a theme throughout the show to emphasis how much he misses Wilson.

First, the case of the week – as we open four recipients of transplants from one donor are dead, one is dying and 13 brings in the last one who shows no symptoms yet.  Each person has died/is dying from a different cause and none of the causes are affiliated with the transplanted organs.

House insists its cancer.  The rest of team believes it anything but cancer.  Foreman tells House, “You need it to be cancer, so you have an excuse to talk to Wilson.”

House doesn’t accept that answer.  In fact, he even goes as far as hiring a private investigator, Lucas (Michael Weston), to do backgrounds on all the recipients and the donor.  Lucas, posing as a coffee machine repairman, buts into the team’s discussion on the patients with tidbits he’s learned.  House continues to believe its cancer and sends the team to do more tests.

“Does that PI mean we don’t have to break in to people’s houses anymore,” Kutner asks.

Meanwhile, Frank (Eric Kaldor) – the one dying case – expires while his wife and Apple (Felicia Day) – the living case – argue over whose life is more valuable.  The autopsy of Frank’s brain reveals nothing.

“We’ve gone from no sense to making less sense and then taking a step backwards,” 13 complains of House’s continual insistence that it’s cancer.

But it turns out House is right – sort of.  It’s cancer that the donor had and passed on to the recipients where it attached itself to organs and caused failure.

While the team is busy with the patients, House is recruiting for a Wilson replacement.  He corners Dr. O’Shea in the cafeteria where he gets him to buy lunch.  House tries to talk to O’Shea about monster trucks (something he had in common with Wilson) and invites him over to watch TV.

Then House hires Lucas to spy on O’Shea adding that he wants to know if he lends money interest free.

But Lucas calls House on this lie adding that House really wants to be spying on Wilson to find out if he’s pining for House.

So House sets Lucas on Wilson and finds out that Wilson isn’t trying to move on from life at Princeton-Plainsbor, just from House.  Wilson has been in contact with Cameron, Cuddy and Foreman.

But when House shows up at Wilson’s doorstep, Wilson won’t even talk to him.  But guess who’s there to help House talk it out and find the diagnosis he needs when Wilson turns him away – Lucas.

And when Cuddy refuses the treatment House wants – opening the woman’s head – and places security around the patient’s room, House sends in Lucas to do his dirty work.  Even better, Lucas shows up during the surgery to say what House wants to hear.

Anyone else think House has found a replacement for Wilson?  Even House thinks so.  He puts Lucas on retainer.

I’m definitely sad to see Wilson playing a smaller role (I’ve not heard that the actor is leaving), but I like Lucas.  He calls it like he sees it.  He adds a touch a humor.  And then there’s the argyle socks.

Guess we have to wait until next week to find out if his paying for a friend works out for House.

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