Doomed But Loved: Chuck

Save Chuck, godsdamn it! Save Chuck!

If you’ve been floating around the blogosphere or twittersphere or any other kind of onlineosphere in the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably run across a post or a tweet or a status update containing those two words.

To the cynical eye, it might seem that after Battlestar Galactica went off into the great good night — or great good morning, as the case may be — the geekosphere cast about for another TV show to glom onto, and still not entirely trusting LOST after that second season, fixated on Chuck.

Not true. Wealllllllll, not exactly true. LOST has momentum, an audience, and and an end date. The fate of Chuck is still very much up in the air. And the fact that NBC gave over five hours a week of prime-time programming to Jay Frakking Leno does NOT bode well for it.

And I think what worries the tvsnobosphere is an unspoken fear that if Chuck dies, that might just be the end of an era for Network television.

Which era? The era where a smart, well-crafted TV show can sit down and just, you know, entertain you for an hour with a combo of comedy, light drama, and characters who change of the course of the series. You know, that era.

Chuck isn’t a grand drama about life in modern-day America, like Friday Night Lights, or a show that likes to address deep philosophical questions, like LOST, or even a show that proclaims how awesome it is — even when it isn’t — like Heroes.

Nope. Chuck just wants to entertain you. And you. And you. Even you. It’s pure classic mainstream American television.

Now, that might sound like damming with faint praise, but I swear to gods that it isn’t, because part of the beauty of television has always been the smart, well-made mainstream TV show that didn’t have any aspirations other than to entertain the shit out of you without being condescending.

Week in and week out, Chuck is the most fun you can possibly have watching TV. This is a show that has something for everyone: spy missions; wacky sidekicks; hot chicks; quippy action guys, family drama and an evil organization with designs — admittedly fuzzy at this point — on the world.

And at the center, Zachary Levi’s low-key comic performance as Chuck, an underachieving Stanford grad who has just enough of a retail job to not totally hate himself. Somehow Chuck got implanted with the most powerful spy database in the world, and the central mysteries that drive the show week revolve around why he got implanted in the first place, and whether or not he can ever lead a normal life again.

See, at the core, it’s a mystery! You people like mysteries, don’t you?

And what drives the Chuckosphere crazy is that we don’t know anybody who has ever seen Chuck and didn’t like it. That’s what drives us crazy. There is no reason that a show that is this consistently smart, funny and this entertaining isn’t a bigger hit in the mainstreamosphere Like Moonlighting was. Like The Rockford Files was.

That’s the frightening thing. Maybe, in the Long Tail era, there really isn’t even enough of a general audience to keep anything but the most mindless, lowest-common-denominator shows — singing! dancing! humiliation! — afloat on the networks. Maybe the audience that demands more from their entertainment has fled to cable and the internets, and that’s that.

Maybe. All I know is that I’ve come to look forward to watching Chuck as much as anything out there right now, and I really think that you like TV, and you watch Chuck, you’ll like it. End of story.

And whaddya know? It’s on tonight. Try Chuck. Save Chuck.

Hey, did you know that you can follow me on Twitter?

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