Episode 056 – Living Dead, Lies, and Lost Writers

This week we talk about the 3rd episode from writing team Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc, Chuck vs. the Living Dead.

Plus, we deal with the issue on everyone’s minds — we are incredibly encouraged at the 4th season renewal but reeling from the number of lost writers because of Chuck’s late pickup by NBC. If you haven’t yet read Gray’s blog on the issue, do yourself a favor and read it.

We also have news, emails, and the last spoilers of the season, as the 2-hour season finale airs this Monday. Check your local listings for air times!

Also, watch for a special podcast right after the finale airs on the West coast… you won’t want to miss it!

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Gray Jones

Reality & lifestyle TV editor / writer located in Los Angeles. Host of Chuck vs. the Podcast and the TV Writer Podcast, Partner of Script Magazine (http://tvwriterpodcast.com). Follow Gray on Twitter: http://twitter.com/GrayJones. Visit Gray's IMDB page: http://imdb.me/GrayJones. Gray's YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/GrahamAJones.

4 thoughts on “Episode 056 – Living Dead, Lies, and Lost Writers”

  1. just watching the new podcast (#56). Mel voices her opinion about it being odd about Sarah wearing the earrings that Shaw bought for her. if Sarah wasn’t feeling guilty why would she take the earrings off and put them on the table?

    just keeping the nit-picking going ;). love all the podcasts and interviews, keep up the great work.

    Rick

  2. Hi Rick,

    ha, ha! I didn’t notice that until after we recorded the podcast and I went back to check. Good catch.

    Thanks for watching, and paying attention!

    Thanks,
    G.

  3. Hi Gray,

    I’m going to have to disagree with you about Shaw. Having seen Routh in interviews and other roles, I don’t believe he is the problem — if Shaw the character had a tenth of the charm of the Routh the actor, we wouldn’t still be asking ourselves what Sarah saw in him. I can take what I know about Sarah and guess what appeal Shaw might have had for her … but I shouldn’t have to. That isn’t the kind of ambiguity that serves the story.

    The problem with Shaw is unmistakably in the writing. He is a flat construct, and while an actor’s charm can sometimes add enough dimension to rescue a flat character, Shaw has the audience against him from the moment he arrives, because we know his sole function is to serve as an arbitrary obstacle to what we want to see. We never looked at Shaw and Sarah together and said, “You know that might not be such a bad thing after all,” or even “Sarah’s making a mistake, but knowing her, I know why she is making this particular mistake.”

    Contrast that with Hannah (or Lou or Jill). We may not have wanted Chuck and Hannah together any more than we wanted Sarah and Shaw together, be we understood what Chuck saw in Hannah. We understood what Sarah saw in Bryce and Cole Barker because we SAW what she saw in them (and we saw that she rejected both of these far more appealing and interesting men). But we never understood what was so compelling and unique about Shaw in Sarah’s eyes that she was willing to go against her decision not to get involved with men she works with, that she was willing to overcome his initial dislike of him, that she was willing to dust off her broken heart and start a relationship at all … If just a rebound, why Shaw rather than some other random handsome guy who she met in the part of her private life that we know nothing about?

    The hints and clues we’re given simply don’t convince us. Sure, he saved her life. But while Hannah is rightfully swept off her feet by Chuck saving her, for Sarah, having someone save her life is just another day at the office. If that’s all it took, she would have fallen for Casey years ago.

    We never believed in the relationship, so we were never really worried that Sarah would end up with Shaw, so there were no emotional stakes in the arc for us. And with no emotional stakes, as the audience, we just felt like we were being randomly jerked around.

    But Shaw could have worked. I recently heard him described as a “Two-Face” character, that the writers were showing us the journey of a good guy to a villain. The problem is that “Two-Face” lives in the wrong genre. Two-Face is native to a genre where characters change allegiance as easily as they change costumes, where life is drawn in bold strokes.

    Chuck lives in the spy genre, where characters seethe with hidden agendas and deception cloaked in charm. I never believed in Shaw’s journey from good to evil, because I never believed that Shaw was good. From the moment he arrived, I searched his actions and words for hints to his real agenda. Because of the genre, I never trusted him. If the writers wanted to show that journey to the dark side (and it could have worked, especially in ironic counterpoint to Chuck’s journey to manhood/will he lose his soul in the process arc) they needed to overcome the expectations that are just part of this genre. They needed to make the audience trust Shaw and then empathize with him and care bout him enough to follow him into darkness (shouting, “No, no, don’t do that!” all the way). If that had been what we saw, we might have hated Shaw, but we would have LOVED hating Shaw.

    I started watching Chuck this season, so I’m in the unique position of watching Season 3 while simultaneously going back to watch Seasons 1 and 2. I love the show and it pains me to say it, but Season 3 is not nearly as strong as Seasons 1 and 2. It’s not the cast (they are brilliant). It’s not the dialog or the stunt work or the jokes. It’s not the arcs. It’s not Shaw. It’s not that we’re not seeing the happy endings we think we want. It’s not that the it’s a downer. It’s that it is disappointing. Time and time again, we see set-ups that should pay off, and then they are robbed of their impact.

    Chuck can not possibly be an easy show to write, it walks on three legs and lives in two genres and, oh yeah, it’s funny, but that’s why we love it. And that’s why we care so much. That’s why we pay attention to details … and honestly, it’s not that we’re more attentive to these things than other audiences, we’re just more conscious of it and perhaps more vocal.

    I hope they get the writing mojo back for Season 4, because I want Season 5.

    Love the podcast

    Thanks,
    K

  4. Apologies for the non-sequitur, I posted in the wrong window, the post above was meant for Gray’s blog. Obviously I need a Nerd Herder to help me with the Internets.

    -K

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