Written by WATYF on Tuesday, 25 September 2007 (14487 hits)
Category: Misc Mentations
I read a review on Wired yesterday about the new crop of TV shows that are centered towards nerds. In typical fashion, the critics gave the best review to the show that I found to be the worst (Chuck), and the worst review to the show that I actually thought was OK (Journeyman). But I had no way of knowing that without actually watching the shows first, so I went ahead and checked out NBC's new Monday night line-up last night. Before I get to trashing "Chuck", I'll start off with a little bit about Heroes and Journeyman. I am deeply saddened to say that I believe Heroes has officially jumped the shark (starting with last season's finale, which was largely a disappointment) and if they don't make a sharp left turn soon, it won't really be a show worth watching anymore. That's a shame, because Heroes was really something to look forward to last year, with its constantly looming plot devices (the Company, Linderman, and Sylar), and now it looks like it has been reduced to sub-plots involving Hiro trying to get a peasant girl to fall in love with an Englishman living in 17th century Japan (riveting, I know), and Claire getting teased by the "mean" kids at school (oh no... not the mean kids!).
But I digress. After Heroes, I saw Journeyman, and found it to be a relatively enjoyable show. The characters seemed a little "forced" in the opening scenes, but I found that they eventually fell into something resembling "chemistry". Yes, the plot is somewhat contrived (it's kind of a Quantum Leap meets Day Break... and oddly enough, the same chick who starred in Day Break stars in Journeyman, so apparently, she is being typecast as "that chick in all the time travel shows"). I didn't really see it as a "nerd" show, though, and seeing how you have to suspend belief in order to watch a show about time travel, I didn't really find much in it worth nit-picking at.
But "Chuck", on the other hand...
There are just so many reasons why Chuck is a pathetic attempt to appeal to nerds, but I decided to keep it to five, because top 5 lists are cool (just ask anyone on Digg ). I'll start by explaining why I felt compelled to compose this list. If you make a show about a nerd, and geared towards nerds, you need to actually, I dunno, maybe run the storyline past an ACTUAL NERD to make sure there aren't ridiculously glaring absurdities in your story that would make any real-life nerd recoil in disgust. And there were so many of those absurdities in Chuck, that I don't think I can bring myself to watch it again. This is, of course, beside the fact that there was zero chemistry between the main nerd and the main chick, but that's a trifle compared to these egregious errors. So without further incessant rambling...
The Top 5 Reasons why no self-respecting nerd would watch NBC's Chuck...
1) The idea that the government would keep ANYTHING on just one computer, let alone ALL of their most important secrets, is so intensely laughable that I can scarcely believe it was actually used as a plot-device. Every nerd knows the old maxim, "If data doesn't exist in at least three different places, it doesn't exist at all". But somehow, the government decided to take every scrap of the most sensitive, top-secret data in the country and plop it all on one PC in the middle of a big empty room. And this ridiculous contrivance was introduced in the opening sequence, so right off the bat, they're beating you over the head with a ludicrous storyline.
2) OK... so all of the government secrets (which were stored only on that one computer, of course) were encoded into images that embed themselves in the brain of whoever sees them. Alright... that's a stretch, but I can let it pass as "TV magic". But the fact that Bryce downloads them onto his mobile device (using a serial cable?!?!?!) and then emails them to Chuck in the span of 3 FREAKING SECONDS is the second glaring absurdity to appear, again, in the opening sequence. You try emailing one large image to a friend and your mobile device will be sitting there for a good 30 seconds or so, let alone thousands upon thousands of images encoded with hidden data (enough to keep Chuck up all night watching them). We're talking about Terabytes of data here. There's not an email service on the planet that will let you send or receive that much data.
3) Honestly, this one is "reason number one" (in my mind), but I'm trying to keep them in chronological order. Are you ready for it....?
HE OWNS A MAC!!!!
I mean... COME ON!!! I know Hollywood is just in love with Apple and all that, but seriously!! What the hell??!?! Let me count the reasons why this is absurd. Here we have a nerd (strike one), who works as a techie at the imaginary version of Best Buy (strike two), and who is a gamer (strike three). There's no reason on God's green earth why this guy would have the most expensive G5 on the planet. In the real-world, he'd have a custom built PC (running either XP or Linux) in a case with a side window, internal LED lights, and a front control-panel with a rheostat and LCD temp gauge. But apparently, Hollywood has no idea that real nerds have no need for Macs because they actually know how to build their own (faster) PC's for much cheaper. The only good thing about this point is that the Mac got dropped (by a Ninja, no less) and was "completely destroyed". Of course, dropping a computer (even a lousy Mac ) wouldn't completely destroy it, especially the data on the hard drive (which is what the Ninja was after), but hey... who's worried about little details like that?
4) "Don't worry... this laptop has a DOS over-ride." Really?? That brand new laptop is running an O/S that's built on DOS?? Gee... I didn't know you could still get new computers with WINDOWS 98 installed!!! For the love of pete... if you're going to include tech-talk in an action sequence, again... RUN IT PAST A NERD FIRST!!! Sorry guys, the last Windows release to be paired with DOS was Windows ME... using the idea that there is a "DOS override" on a modern laptop running XP (or worse, Vista) just makes you look dumb. Hell, the whole "bomb" apparatus was dumb. They had a laptop (with a large countdown timer as a screen-saver ) controlling a bomb and it was (apparently) connected to the internet!! Well how convenient. The idea that a demolition expert would use a consumer laptop running any version of Windows as a detonator for an explosive device is silly... but they definitely went that extra mile by throwing in the "DOS override" bit.
5) Lastly, the lead characters just weren't "nerdy" at all. They looked too cool. Both of the main "nerds" (Chuck and his buddy) are one haircut and a change of clothes away from the cover of GQ. If you're gonna cast someone as a nerd, and expect other nerds to relate to him, then make sure he's not just some poser dressed in what a wardrobe consultant thought looked "nerdy". If you want an idea of some TV nerds that were actually believable as "nerds", try Marshall Flinkman from Alias or the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files. Now those guys were nerds.
Sure, there are a couple of reasons why a nerd might wanna watch "Chuck". They sure do take every conceivable opportunity to show that blond chick in her underwear. Geez... doesn't she have pajamas? And Chuck's buddy was actually pretty funny, which almost made up for some of the ridiculous crap they threw at you. But overall, for something that touts itself as a show for nerds, there's just too much about Chuck that would cause any real nerd to roll their eyes in disdain.