Fred Willard must have a great agent. The guy is everywhere these days. After just finishing up a guest spot on ‘Modern Family’, the actor also made an appearance on ‘Chuck’ this past Monday. Better still, in ‘Chuck vs. the Role Models’, he’s been paired up with Swoozie Kurtz to play Craig and Laura Turner, a legendary spy couple that Chuck and Sarah hope to emulate. That is, until they discover how bitter and resentful these veteran husband-and-wife CIA agents have grown over the years. This is a brilliant bit of casting in a very fun episode.
‘Chuck’ is an entertaining but often uneven series. Far too much of these first three seasons were spent vacillating on the “Will they or won’t they?” relationship between Chuck and Sarah. Chuck wants Sarah but realizes she’s out of his league. Sarah wants Chuck but also realizes that she’s way, way, WAY out of his league… and that being together would put him in danger, of course. Chuck and Sarah almost get to together, but don’t at the last second. Chuck and Sarah get together briefly, but realize that it can’t last. Chuck and Sarah get together again briefly, but realize that it can’t last. Chuck and Sarah get together again briefly… Wash, rinse, repeat.
After finally committing that, yes, these two are now officially a couple, the show seems to have found a nice groove. Often, in cases like this, pairing up the main characters romantically only serves to kill their chemistry and ruin the series. (That’s called the ‘Moonlighting’ Syndrome.) But here, the producers have spun the relationship into a workable version of the “adventure couple” formula. This goes all the way back to the ‘Thin Man’ movies, or more recently ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith’. In this case, the most direct inspiration appears to be ‘Hart to Hart’, which is hilariously spoofed in the opening sequence of this episode.
There are three main storylines in ‘Role Models’. In the first, Chuck and Sarah are assigned to work with the Turners to steal an important computer chip from wealthy bad guy Otto von Vogel (the ever-creepy Udo Kier). The Turners tell them to stand back and watch how it’s done, and then proceed to almost ruin the mission through their constant squabbling. Laura is a spiteful boozer. Craig is an obnoxious philanderer. Sarah and Chuck worry that working together will doom them to the same fate. This story thread has a lot of laughs, especially after a tiger shows up to thwart everybody’s plans. Great stuff.
Meanwhile, Casey has been instructed to whip Morgan into shape as a field agent. As you can imagine, that doesn’t go so well. It does, however, lead to a surprising moment of friendship between the two.
All the while, Awesome and Ellie begin their Doctors Without Borders stint in the Republic of Congo. And the culture shock is totally freaking them out. I’ll be honest, when it was first revealed that these characters would be shipped off to Africa, I assumed that they’d simply be written out of the show. I’m very surprised to find the series actually following them there and giving them a storyline about it. The trip appears to be short-lived, though. After a little twist ending, Awesome’s life seems to be at risk, and the two of them head back to America. All I have to say about this is that the writers had damn well better not kill off Awesome. He’s been too entertaining a character, and deserves better.
As far as I know, ‘Chuck’ has always been shot on 16mm film. The first season looked downright terrible in HD broadcast. Episodes were swamped in heavy grain, which NBC’s over-compressed signal routinely broke apart into nasty pixelation. The second season improved somewhat, but just barely. Recent episodes look pretty decent. This is still far from the most sparkly show in high-def, but it has its moments of eye candy goodness. I’m referring, of course, to moments like Sarah in her skimpy nightie. My lord, is Yvonne Strahovski the hottest woman on television right now!
That’s not a question. It’s a simple statement of fact. Of course she is.