Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chuck, Life: The Twist

For the next couple weeks, at least, Mondays nights on NBC are wall-to-wall. Chuck, Heroes and Life make an entertaining evening, and I'd argue that the most popular, Heroes, is by far the weakest link. Of course, after next week, Life moves permanently to the black hole of Friday night, which means I won't be writing about it anymore (just say no to Saturday posts). Of course, the Christian Slater starring My Own Worst Enemy starts, and that's probably the only mention of it you'll see from me (and unless Heroes picks up, it's not long for the docket as well).

I'm so glad Chuck is back (my favorite new series from last year without the initials M.M.,) and while this season premiere brought the funny, I still found it hard dealing with the exposition necessary to guarantee that new viewers won't be lost. Between all the little reintroductions and the stiffness of this week's baddie (Michael Clarke Duncan) the humor had to work overtime to make up for it. Thankfully it did that and more. Between Morgan's Thunderdome method of choosing an assistant manager ("one will be assistant manager... the other will be Jeff",) and the many subtle Casey moments the show has grown to rely on. Casey even gets in on the Phantom Planet backed ("Dropped") dressing montage, a callback to the pilot. ("Dropped" gets cut up and used several times afterwards, a scoring method applied several times last year, and was perfected with Bob Mould's "Circles" on Schwartz's The O.C. exactly three years ago).

Humor also took the form of Huey Lewis & the News songs ("Hip to be Square," "Power of Love,") giving us contrasting views of how the cheese of Huey Lewis can either lift spirits or annoy the hell out of you depending on your mood. Then Flight of the Conchord's french pop parody "Foux du Fafa" helped amusingly introduce Sarah's new cover at a yogurt shop (Weinerlicious will surely be missed). Meanwhile, the all important third act song this time out is courtesy of Frightened Rabbit, who's "The Twist" works both to show Casey's unwanted empathy ("the twist is you're just like me") and the convenient blowing up of the rebuilt intersect and agents surrounding it ("need human heat"). So long Tony "Candyman" Todd.

Life, on the other hand, doesn't have as much humor to make up for all the reintroductions that it put us through, and thus is suffered as a result. I assume (hope) that the next episode (Friday) will work much better. Musically, there's at least still some of the same commitment to quality that later episodes showed last season, this time highlighted by The Heavy's "Colleen."

Playlist: Chuck Episode 2.01
1. "Hip to be Square" - Huey Lewis & The News
2. "Returning to the Fold" - The Thermals
3. "Foux du Fafa" - Flight of the Conchords
4. "Dropped" - Phantom Planet
5. "The Power of Love" - Huey Lewis & The News
6. "The Twist" - Frightened Rabbit

Playlist: Life - Episode 2.01
1. "Devil's Playground" - Gram Rabbit
2. "Colleen" - The Heavy
3. "Dream" - Priscilla Ahn

Prevously: Sandwiches and fresh fruit: Chuck and Life a week early

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