“Chuck vs. The Suburbs” was a rather uneven experience. The initial set-up for both the main plot and the B(uy More) plot just screamed conventional sitcom: Sarah and Chuck have to pretend they are married, hilarious hijinx ensue. Meanwhile, the Buy More employees try to get Big Mike a girlfriend, hilarious hijinx ensue. But both plots actually worked pretty well, and provided a good amount of entertainment. That’s not to say there weren’t problems though.
Let’s talk about the Buy More plot first, because that one actually worked pretty well. Big Mike’s wife leaving him did seem kind of sudden mainly because I wasn’t aware Big Mike had a wife. The only time I can remember Chuck ever dealing with Big Mike’s romantic and/or sex life was the episode in season one where, after Harry Tang left, it was revealed that Big Mike had been sleeping with Mrs. Tang. I just assumed that Mike was single until his wife left him prior to the start of “Chuck vs. The Suburbs.” Now that I think of it, they could have easily just had Mike getting depressed about being single on Valentine’s Day and channelling his frustration into his work. It would have achieved the exact same results, but without the sudden introduction of a wife.
Departures of previously un-existing wives aside, the Buy More subplot did provide a good number of laughs. The pay-off, with Big Mike ending up sleeping with Morgan’s mom worked too. As soon as it was revealed that her 26 year old kid was an employee at the store, Morgan was the most logical (and humorous) choice. I did get a chuckle out of Big Mike’s “please let it be Bartowski” though.
The Chuck and Sarah in the suburbs plot was more of a mixed bag. There were a lot of laughs, some sweet Chuck and Sarah moments, great Casey one-liners, and a few cool sequences, but there were a number of problems.
The guest stars worked out fairly well. Andy Richter, in particular, was quite amusing as the overly-friendly neighbour. Of course, he was so eager that he was practically guaranteed to be the Fulcrum agent. So even after it was revealed that Jenny McCarthy and her husband were Fulcrum, it was not a big surprise to learn the whole neighbourhood was as well.
The whole existence of a Fulcrum neighbourhood makes little sense to me. It’s not like these are Soviet spies that need to learn to act American, there’s no reason to put a whole bunch of agents at risk of exposure by keeping them all in one place like that. The only plausible explanation I can think of is that Fulcrum was repeatedly kidnapping whomever happened to buy the one house they kept vacant. They would then use their kidnappees as test subjects for their Intersect-like technology. But that seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to just to get your hands on some test subjects. Why not just grab people off the street or something?
It seemed like between Chuck getting a bunch of Fulcrum knowledge implanted in his brain, and capturing a whole room full of (now insane) Fulcrum agents, they should have been able to strike a real blow against Fulcrum. But there was no talk along those lines, no using Chuck’s new-found knowledge to help fight Fulcrum, nothing like that. Instead General Beckman just gave a standard “More danger than ever!” speech to Sarah. Yawn.
Speaking of things that are growing tiresome, I’m starting to get sick of the Sarah and Chuck stuff. I think it was all played really well (particularly when Chuck told Ellie about how he didn’t think his relationship with Sarah was ever going to progress any further) but this is taking place only two episodes after the last Chuck decides he can’t be with Sarah episode (the much better, “Chuck vs. Santa Claus”).
It wasn’t just the placement of this episode that had me feeling tired of the Chuck/Sarah angst though. It’s just that the show has firmly established that A) Chuck and Sarah are completely in love with each other B) Sarah has done a good job of convincing Chuck that they can’t be together because of their jobs and C) Sarah has managed to hide her feelings from Chuck. The writers don’t need to keep re-establishing A, B, or C. We get it. It’s time to either have them get together, or have Chuck find someone else for a while. Ultimately we know that Chuck and Sarah will be together, but this whole constant angst thing is getting tired.
I spent a lot of time complaining about the angst in “Chuck vs. the Suburbs,” but who knows, maybe this is the time that Chuck will finally accept that he and Sarah aren’t meant for each other and he can move on, leaving the Chuck and Sarah love as more of a subtext thing for a while. My hopes aren’t all that high, but time shall tell.
Trevor MacKay is the sci-fi/horror/fantasy/cheesy/random geeky stuff guy. If something is geeky and/or unbelievably cheesy, he’s there.