After all is said and done, last night was probably a wasted opportunity for Chuck. The fledgling NBC certainly did their darndest to promote the worthy series, with several promos, including a 3-D one (albeit, paired with a kids movie and a puzzling Sobe commercial). The show pulled in more viewers against more competition (House, The Bachelor, etc.,) but it was still fourth in it's slot, and I'm not sure it even did enough to bring back the newbies who stopped by to see what this Chuck thing was all about. The 3-D experiment didn't help matters much, as it had too many technical requirements for it work properly. For the payoff, you an HD flat screen TV and feed along with the special glasses from displays for Sobe drinks (old school red & blue 3-D glasses didn't work).
Even if you were equipped, there wasn't much 'wow' factor after the first few minutes -- the credits, to my eyes, worked the best, which makes sense given it's use of line art. I actually found it worked fine watching the HULU 420P broadcast at the 640x360 size presented (resist going fullscreen, resist!). But aside from the gimmick, the episode was just alright.
There were plenty of cultural references to go around, but I'd argue they were a bit too obscure for the purpose of bringing in more fans. With Butterman (former Steeler great Jerome Bettis) as an ex-con, here were at least three Shawshank Redemption references (Jeff, warning he'll "bite down hard," Butterman saying he's going to "Zihuatanejo", and Jeff's response of "Get busy living, or get busy dying"). Then there were shout outs to The Empire Strikes Back (the grenade's id is IG-88, which is an assassin/bounty hunter droid, Weird Science (Chuck saying "See you in the emergency room" before taking a shot,) and even Bachelor Party (Chuck hanging sans pants from the elevator, ruining a romantic moment). Oh, and then there was also the pointless "To Be Continued" graphic at the end in Back to the Future style. Why?
But we did get the former lead singer of those 90's one hit wonders Drive Shaft ("You All Everybody",) as a special guest star. Dominic Monaghan did an admirable job, but not enough to shake Charlie from Lost. His Tyler Martin character had some nice lines, like the flowery first two times he was hit by a Casey tranq dart ("Daisies..." and "I feel like a daffodil...").
Musically, it was all over the map, without a whole lot of focus or plot-driven purpose. Even the use of Europe's "The Final Countdown" felt like it's done before. I did enjoy hearing Okkervil River's "Lost Coastlines," though, as it was one of my favorite songs of last year. But I'm not sure what it contributed other than, "hey, I like that song." Next time, we're hopefully back to some brilliance.
Playlist (incomplete): Chuck - Episode 2.12
1. (Chuck's dream/opening)
2. "Good Days Bad Days" - Kaiser Chiefs - scene at Buy More
3. "Try it Again" - The Hives - Chuck and Casey deal with the grenade
4. "I Like Dem Girls" - Sizzle C - first song at club
5. "The Final Countdown" - Europe - The golden ticket challenge
6. "Out at the Pictures" - Hot Chip - second song at club
7. (third song at club)
8. (fourth song at club)
9. (opera libretto playing while they decide to give Butterman the ticket)
9. (walk-in music for Tyler Martin show, Sarah and Casey enter)
10. "Tales of a Thousand Fears" - Vienne - Tyler takes the stage
11. "Lost Coastlines" - Okkervil River -