SEASON PREMIERE "Chuck"
WHEN | WHERE Friday night at 8 on NBC/4
REASON TO WATCH Fifth (and final) season premiere of the quirky spy show.
CATCHING UP Uber-man/boy spy Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) finally marries uber-hot spy Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), but it gets better for our hero. After he had an Intersect sucked out of him, evil bad guy Alexei Volkoff (Timothy Dalton) reverts to mild-mannered Hartley Winterbottom, and deeds Volkoff Industries -- net value, $877 million -- to the newlyweds, which they use to buy Buy More (the big-box store where Chuck works).
All's well? Not.
CIA baddie Clyde Decker (Richard Burgi) tells Chuck he was a pawn in a much larger plan. A pawn? For what or in the service of whom? Meanwhile, after losing the Intersect himself, Chuck becomes leader of a gang of freelance spies, while Morgan (Joshua Gomez) absorbs the Intersect. (The "Intersect?" A CIA/NSA creation in which vast amounts of actionable data are stored in the brain . . . the ultimate spy tool.)
WHAT EPISODE'S ABOUT The freelancers have named themselves Carmichael Industries, and for their first assignment, they are hired to recover stolen loot from one Roger Bale (Craig Kilborn). Chuck mourns the loss of the Intersect; Morgan enjoys what is now his (he's adapted a special zoom lens); and all Sarah badly wants is a perfect house with a picket fence in the front. Meanwhile, the new company handles its finances rather poorly.
MY SAY "Chuck" could easily have taken one of two roads at the end of last season. One road to a new season . . . or one road to oblivion. As such, the fourth-season finale could have worked as a series-ender -- hero and heroine are married/live happily ever after -- except that NBC had other plans. This forced the Chris Fedak/Josh Schwartz creative team to do a couple of maneuvers that would've left even Bartowski breathless; oh . . . the Intersect was part of an even greater scheme? Bravo! That's almost -- not quite -- like saying the past four seasons were a dream. No matter: Tonight's episode is a lot of fun, with a lot of laughs. One of TV's best comic books still has some pop to it.
BOTTOM LINE A big fat wink to fans. The fifth season looks like a winner.