mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)

Television Reviews: Chuck, Heroes, Journeyman, The Big Bang Theory (mild spoilers, probably)

Those of us who enjoy serial storytelling in the science fiction/fantasy genre apparently have a lot to look forward to this season. The networks announced a larger proportion of shows within the genre than usual, and it would appear that our current golden age of television is continuing.

Last night, there were four shows on that Nomi and I were interested in: Chuck, Heroes, Journeyman, The Big Bang Theory. Sadly, The Big Bang Theory and Chuck are on against each other, but we managed to catch a preview of The Big Bang Theory on our TiVo previously, so we didn't have to play TiVo-VCR games to catch it last night. (We also could have watched the pilots of Chuck and Journeyman that had been released over the Internet, but we never got around to it.) Technically, TBBT is not a genre show, but it's about Physics graduate students, so there's a certain possible genre interest attached.

The short version: NBC has put together a very well constructed Monday night of television.

The long version: See below.


The premise of this show is that Chuck, a technically proficient but socially awkward fellow who works tech support at a chain store, has a database of government secrets downloaded into his brain. He ends up working undercover for a CIA agent and an NSA agent, and wacky hijinks ensue (as they say).

Chuck is a nerd, but he's definitely our kind of nerd. I won't go so far as to say that I'm like him, but I know many people who are, and they're the coolest nerds around. His social awkwardness is come by honestly, given his bad breakup story, and his good heart comes through as well. Probably the most important quality for a TV character is audience engagement, and Chuck has that.

The show was well-written and well-plotted, with perfect set-ups that paid off in the end. The characters seemed very fleshed out and realistic; even "Captain Awesome," for the few seconds of screen time he had, came through as more than just a stereotype. We're very much looking forward to enjoying more of this show.


This show just continues to be fun to watch. There's too much for me to go into details at the moment, but I will say two things. First of all, I am intrigued by the new mysteries that they began presenting in this episode.

Secondly, and best of all, is that my favorite character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky, appeared on the show as a representative of the mysterious company. Tobolowsky is an acting genuis; if you don't recognize his name, take a look at his IMDB page (which I linked to) because you've surely seen him in something. Seeing him spar with Mohinder in the way only Tobolowsky could do was terrific.


Being the time travel fanatic that I am, I was already predisposed to enjoy this show. However, some early reviews suggested that it was mediocre, or weak at best. So I guess I went into it with low expectations, which turned out to be a good thing, because I ended up liking the show more than I probably would have.

The premise is that Dan Vasser finds himself uncontrollably traveling into the past, apparently to make changes that will improve the future. Sort of like Quantum Leap, but without the help of a home base to tell him what he's supposed to. And Vasser always travels back and forth with whatever he's wearing and carrying on his person at the time.

The biggest problem I almost had with the show was the question of why was this happening to him. In some cases (such as Early Edition), I'm willing to accept that we may not have the answer; but given the extremely dangerous consequences of Vasser's time trips (such as his disappearing from a moving car that subsequently plows into other cars), I needed more explanation as to why this was happening.

And although the show didn't provide that explanation, it did provide a clue that something is going on to cause all this. The clue was significant enough to make me want to watch more.

But I did have one problem with suspension of disbelief. People tend to change their appearance rather significantly over a ten or twenty year period. I found it hard to believe that Vasser could pass himself off in 1997 to his friends as the contemporary model.

The Big Bang Theory (CBS):

I first heard of this show from an article in New York magazine. They had screened the pilot for a group of graduate students in Physics at Columbia and asked their opinions. Most of their opinions were lukewarm, at best. I felt the same way. The two main characters are ridiculously nerdy, and the sitcom setup was very cliched. (I rolled my eyes when Kelly Cuoco's character said her shower was broken, because it was obvious what was coming next). Frankly, the only line I laughed at was when one of the graduate students complained to the other that his theory requires 26 dimensions in order to work out correctly. There was no laughtrack attached, implying that the writers didn't realize what a great line it was.

I will admit that I'm mildly curious to see where the show goes, so I may tape a few more episodes. But in the grand scheme of things, I won't feel disappointed if I miss them.
Tags: science-fiction, television

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