Sunday, May 24, 2015

Chuck Versus the List: The Ten Best Chuck Episodes of ALL TIME!

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What can I say about Chuck, Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak's ode to comedy and spy films? It's one of my favorite TV shows of all time, it's one of the few things my brother and I actually agree on being great, and it was yet another casualty of NBC not having a freaking clue how to produce an audience. Oh, it also desperately deserves a movie, because how can a show that had episodes named Chuck Versus So and So not have a feature length picture named Chuck Versus the Movie? There's gold, and then there's liquid gold. Chuck Versus the Movie is liquid gold.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I'm clearly about to write a column titled Chuck Versus the List. Hey, if I can do that type of thing for Community, why not for the Chuckster? So tonight, let's kick off the first edition of this bad boy with a look at the ten best Chuck episodes of all time! As with Community, let me caution you Chuck fans now; if you're favorite episode didn't make it, it doesn't mean I didn't like it. It just means there were too many great episodes. If it sounds like I'm trying to avoid you throwing fruit at me because I left "Chuck Versus the Cougars" off the list, it's because I am. Did it work? Probably not. ON WITH THE SHOW!

Chuck Versus the List

10. Chuck Versus the Seduction

Makes the list for giving us national treasure Roan Montgomery, the greatest thing John Larroquette has done since...alright it's the greatest thing he's ever done. Bravo to him, writer Matthew Miller and director Allan Kroeker for delivering such a memorable goofball in Roan. He's like James Bond, if Bond was a Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas level alcoholic and was the most inexplicable ladies man of all time. I'm still trying to decide which of Roan's lines were the best, "Not you, Agent Frankenstein" or "Don't encourage him! This isn't happy hour at Chilis". Like I said, national treasure. Hello Diane indeed!

9. Chuck Versus the Goodbye

The series finale only at #9? Hey, much like Community, every list involving Chuck is strong, which means some good/great things are either left out or lower than you expect. Make no mistake though, this is a great finale. Everything you'd want as a Chuck fan is here. Everyone parting on great terms? Check. Jeffster performing a ridiculously awesome cover of aha's "Take Me On"? Check. Call back to the very first episode of the show? Check. THE RETURN OF THE WEINERLICIOUS?! Double check. This is everything you'd want out of a series finale. Except of course that it was the finale. Chuck Versus the Movie? Chuck Versus the Movie? Chuck Versus the Movie.

8. Chuck Versus the Ring Part II

The culmination of Chuck's best season saw our hero finally reach his potential. And what a way to do it, overcoming a near crippling brain injury caused by the Intersect, the death of his father and the ultimate rat bastard in Daniel Shaw. Freakin' Daniel Shaw; not since Riley Finn has there been a TV character I've wanted more to GO AWAY! That character, by design I'm pretty sure, was stiffer than a Kelly Slater surfboard, the opposite of Roan Montgomery. That Chuck was able to finally rid us of him for what appeared to be once and for all (Shaw returned in season five's "Chuck Versus the Santa Suit"), while jamming to Jeffster's cover of "Shot Down in a Blaze of Glory" to no less, is a master achievement. Also, wasn't it fun (and yet semi-tragic) to watch the Buy More go up in flames? What a sad end to the saddest place in the world.  

7. Chuck Versus the Nemesis

"Chuck Versus the Hard Imported Salami" may have had the OMG moment in Chuck and Sarah finally  making out, but its follow up was the better episode. We get to see the underrated Matt Bomer in an extensive, non flashback role for the first time, and his Bryce Larkin is just as suave, infuriating and chill as you'd expect. Perhaps most importantly however, we finally get to see Sarah wrestle with her feelings over Chuck (while simultaneously wrestling with her lingering feelings for Bryce). Which one will she choose? Will she choose? Add that to Black Friday at the Buy More (one word; Pineapple), and you've got a winner on your hands.

6. Chuck Versus the Push Mix

Co-creator Josh Schwartz has said of this episode that it contains the best ten minutes in the show's history. He's right. The finale of "Chuck Versus the Push Mix" is a sight to behold, with Ellie and Awesome welcoming their daughter into the world, Jeffster providing yet another cover over the hospital loudspeaker, and, in the show's best moment, Chuck proposing to Sarah in as quiet and intimate of a moment as you can imagine. The rest of the episode is pretty good too, with Chuck's mother finally being freed from the claws of Alexei Volkoff, Casey in the hospital, and Casey in the hospital. You haven't lived till you've seen Casey deal with the romance between Morgan and his daughter Alex. Great stuff.

5. Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger

The season four finale features Chuck at his most badass, going to great lengths to rescue Sarah from the now evil as hell Vivian McArthur. Plus, Chuck finally fulfils his destiny of getting control of the Buy More, has the Intersect suppressed out of his head and then watches Morgan get the Intersect. Yup, Morgan with the Intersect. Great stuff. Oh, there's also some sort of wedding. Not a huge deal, just some vows exchanged between your favorite spy couple that took forever to get together. Nothing to get excited over in the slightest!

4. Chuck Versus the American Hero

Remember when I said season three of Chuck was the best season of the show? "Chuck Versus the American Hero" occurs right in the heart of it, a section of the show I'd like to call the Zenith of Chuck. Seriously, from "Chuck Versus the Beard" to "Chuck Versus the Other Guy" (and you could make the argument it goes further), the show took off and became the sort of classic Once Upon a Time only dreams about being. Larry Bird bows down to the middle of Chuck, season three.

Anyways, "American Hero", taking place towards the end of the run, is a tour de force. Chuck finally decides to win Sarah over for good, to mixed results. Awesome, Morgan and Casey (all with their own motivations) try to help Chuck to disastrous results. Lester and Jeff prove to be the LeBron James of stalking. And Daniel Shaw, with an assist from TV bad guy extraordinaire Mark Sheppard and 24 vet Roger Cross, gets one step closer to becoming interesting. All in all, you don't get much better than this. Except that you do, as this is only #4.

3. Chuck Versus the Other Guy

Shouldn't this episode be titled "The One Where Chuck and Sarah Finally Become Facebook Official"? Yes, this is the one where it finally happens. Sarah kicks Shaw to the curb, confesses her love to a drunk, Pretty in Pink quoting Chuck, and we all lived happily ever after. Alright, we did that after Chuck shot Shaw in Paris and saved Sarah's life, but you get the point. Also, Casey wiggled his way back in the NSA, Sheppard went off to yet another unseen TV prison, and Morgan Grimes became an official government spy. But who really cares? Chuck and Sarah got together! It was as if a million fan fiction writers cried out in ecstasy and suddenly fell silent that day. If I can quote General Beckman, it was about damn time.

2. Chuck Versus the Beard

Any Chuck fan knows that the calling card of the show was a mixture of pop culture comedy and gripping action. What also made the show great though was its big heart, something "Chuck Versus the Beard" proudly wears on its sleeve. Unable to flash and now losing Sarah to the boring, humdrum grip of Shaw (who actually makes Sarah seem less interesting than ever in this episode), Chuck is grounded at the Buy More by his team. By chance, Ring agents infiltrate the Buy More and Castle, attempting to destroy both in order to eliminate the Intersect. A rally is staged by the Buy More employees (believing their store is being bought out) to the sound of Jeffster's "Fortunate Son" cover, Chuck and Morgan try to stop the Ring, and Morgan finally learns Chuck's secret. An absolute gem of an episode, and the one that ultimately kick started Chuck on its historic run.

1. Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer

Season three might've had Chuck's best stretch, season four may have had the Chuck-Sarah marriage you always wanted, and season one may have had the Sandworm from Dune. In the end, none of those seasons had the music of the universe. "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer" did however, and it gets the top spot for being the symbol of what Chuck was; an action/comedy that was as much about world playing Missile Command to Rush as it was saving the world. Plus, have you seen the scene? It's so dope, it has actually inspired me to try and beat video games while listening to "Tom Sawyer." Has it worked? I plead the fifth.  

That'll do it guys! Hope you enjoyed this list. I'll be back with another one sometime soon. Till then, a gif of SUMMER in Chuck, Season 4.

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