TV REVIEW: CHUCK: "Chuck vs. the Third Dimension"

Sam White
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Monday (Feb. 2 [“Groundhog Day!!”]) night saw the premiere of the most-hyped episode of “Chuck” since the series started. So, the question is: did it live up to the hype?

Well, you have to remember that the hype was all about how the show was going to be broadcast in 3-D. This is where the action is shot and then broadcast in such a way that—if you’re wearing one of the 125 million pairs of “Extreme Nerd” glasses graciously provided to every grocery shopper in America by Pepsi (except, here in Dumas, where the only shop that got them was the “Dollar General”)—images which would normally be 2D on a TV screen suddenly look 3D.

Sort of.

If you tuned in to “Chuck” on Monday night to be dazzled by either the 3-D special effects or, were tremendously misinformed and somewhat misogynistic and thought “3D” was a reference to Sarah’s cup size (an understandable mistake considering the commercials and the opening scene) you were probably disappointed.

3D is a novelty. And, like all novelties, it wears off. For most of us, our eyes adjust to the illusion and, after a while, it just looked like you’re watching a regular movie or TV show—until you look to your side and share a glance with the person beside you that conveys, “Gosh, we’re dorks!”

Several years ago, ABC tried this with their “3D Tuesday” (or some such name), the highlight of which was (in retrospect) a less-than-thrilled Craig T. Nelson chucking sports equipment and co-stars at the camera. The center-piece of the night was “Home Improvement”, which employed several funny sight gags of stuff coming at the viewer’s face, none of which work for visual or humor effect on the DVD, where they decided to just go with the standard video presentation.

I bring that up because, while “Chuck” had a couple knives come at the camera (to good effect) and a shot of Chuck himself jumping at the camera (to no effect—it was late in the program and my eyes were so completely adjusted that even taking the glasses off during commercials no longer did anything) but, mostly, it was just a standard episode of “Chuck” with fancy opening credits (which did look pretty cool with the glasses). This episode will lose nothing when it comes out on DVD, sans glasses.

That’s not a knock. The 3D aspect of the show was a distraction from what was actually a very good episode. Chuck was out of sorts because he was still troubled by having seen Sarah shoot a man, apparently in cold blood, in a strangely well-stocked Christmas tree lot on Christmas Eve. Sarah, and even Casey, thought Chuck needed a break. So when Chuck “flashed” on a bomb intended for a narcissistic rock star (played by a wonderfully type-cast Dominic Monaghan) Sarah and Casey think a good, relaxing gig for Chuck will be to keep the rock star from being murdered while they try to figure out why someone wants to murder him. A moment’s distraction allows the rocker to escape and leads Chuck on a drink and party-filled night that almost ends with him hanging off a tall building in his underwear.

[Spoiler alert] One thing that really pleased me about this show was when Chuck confronted Sarah with what he had seen. From the moment Chuck saw it and stayed silent, I was afraid this little secret was going to be dragged out over several episodes. But Chuck and Sarah talked it out and, so it’s clear that Chuck’s view of Sarah has changed (he trusts her with his life but not to tell the truth), meaning their relationship has gotten a little more complicated and the characters are—surprise—a little more 3D.