Summer is gone, autumn arrived, and this can only mean one thing: a new season of television shows. And last week kicked off the fourth season of one of my favourites: Chuck.
Not the character Chuck, but the show itself. It seems as though the writing team lives in constant fright that changes might not be embraced by the audience.
For most of the first three seasons, they were afraid to have Chuck make a move on Sarah, to change the chemistry between the two characters by allowing something to happen. Luckily they moved on at the end of season three, and finally let the two lead characters express their feelings.
During the third season, the writers were deadly afraid of abandoning the formula. They even replaced Bryce “super spy” Larkin with a new good guy/boyfriend/bad guy to be Chuck’s nemesis. And like the season before, when Chuck’s driving character flaw was his desire to no longer be a spy, they gave Chuck a somewhat random driving character flaw. In a complete turn-around, it was a desire to be a real spy.
Once again, starting a new series, the writers look scared. When we open, they have re-introduced a familiar mission from earlier seasons: Chuck is searching for one of his parents. His mother this time, naturally.
They also re-introduce old behaviours. Over the course of the third season, Chuck became quite the accomplished liar — which got him in trouble with his family and friends. He opens the season deciding to lie (seemingly without purpose) to Sarah about looking for his mother.
Your correspondent was shaking his head, and holding said head in his hands.
Happily, the Chuck/Sarah behaviour was nipped in the bud by the end of the episode. This — along with a writing team with a tendency to bring everything together at the end of the season — leaves me hopeful and happy about the new season of Chuck. Maybe we will get something that is a bit more creative and new, even if it does feature the same old characters.
The question is whether these same old characters will be given a chance to learn and grow, rather than holding hard-and-fast to defined personality traits until an epiphany arises.
Whether such a radical notion might occur is yet to be seen. Certainly a decision was made to change the tenor of the show this year. Count this viewer as happy.