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'Chuck' pilot recap: Don't freak out

Season 1 | Episode 101 | “Pilot” | Aired Sept 24, 2007

NBC’s Chuck, which aired for five seasons between 2007 and 2012, was a show that was saved from cancellation multiple times by fan campaigns, hashtags, and Subway sandwiches. But the pang of missing this underappreciated show can’t always be cured with a footlong turkey on wheat. That’s why I’ll be recapping the show from the beginning. Fans, welcome back. Newbies, get ready to fall in love.

The pilot opens with Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi—my biggest celebrity crush) and his best friend, Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez), trying to escape the birthday party that Chuck’s sister, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster), has thrown for him. Ellie invited all of her friends and her boyfriend Devon “Captain Awesome” Woodcomb (Ryan McPartlin), and Chuck and Morgan don’t know anyone.

Chuck works at the local Buy More in the Nerd Herd desk. It’s been five years since Chuck’s college roommate, Bryce Larkin (Matt Bomer), got him kicked out of Stanford and stole his lost college love, Jill. Ellie just wants her brother to move on and forget about Bryce.

But Bryce has not forgotten about Chuck. Bryce is sweating and bleeding in a giant computer room. After sliding on some shades and running a computer program, Bryce blows up the room and fights his way through a bunch of guards, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, trying to send a file. Bryce is finally shot and killed, but not before we see his phone, and the sent message to Chuck.

The man who shot Bryce is Major John Casey of the NSA. The NSA and CIA uploaded every scrap of data they had into the computer Bryce destroyed. The data was encrypted into thousands of images. Whoever received Bryce’s email now has all of the government’s secrets.

Which brings us back to Chuck. Bryce sends Chuck a riddle based on an old video game they made together. When Chuck answers the riddle, the encrypted pictures begin flashing all over the computer screen. Chuck is glued to the spot watching until morning.

Chuck heads to work, where the Nerd Herd is swamped by a nasty new computer virus named after porn star Irene Demova. But strange things are happening. Chuck keeps getting flashes of information when he sees and hears things, like traffic patterns and the arrival date of a general coming to LA for a speech.

But Chuck is distracted by a beautiful blonde named Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski). After Chuck fixes Sarah’s phone and saves the day for a dad who forgot to put a tape into his camcorder (hey 2007!), Chuck sees that Sarah is gone, but she left her number. Things could be looking up.

Or not. Chuck, with Morgan in tow, comes home to find a ninja trying to steal his computer. The two nerds are no match for the ninja, and after some failed self-defense measures, Morgan and Chuck are dazed on the floor, Chuck’s computer is smashed, and the ninja is gone. Angry at the failed computer theft, the ninja rips off the hood to reveal Sarah from the Buy More!

The next day, Chuck heads to Large Mart to get some new locks, and he flashes again. The menacing man holding a nail gun is a Serbian demolitions expert. But how could he know that?

Meanwhile, Sarah, a CIA agent, is told that with Chuck’s computer broken, her mission is over. The NSA is sending Casey in to take care of the problem (meaning Chuck). But Sarah wants more time to look for a backup file. She heads into the Buy More, drops the best pickup line ever, and asks Chuck out.

Morgan, Ellie, and Captain Awesome are all ecstatic about Chuck’s date. We have a fun getting-ready-for-a-date montage. Chuck is trying on different shirts and making faces in the mirror, and Sarah is dipping hair pins into poison and strapping knives to her ankles. Typical first date stuff.

The date seems to be going well. They drink margaritas and talk about their baggage — Chuck lives with his sister and Captain Awesome; Sarah just got out of a relationship with “Bruce,” and she’s also been ordered to kill Chuck if he tries to run. (Well, that last part was implied.)

When Chuck and Sarah head to a club, Sarah sees the place crawling with NSA agents. Under the guise of a sexy dance with Chuck, Sarah uses her hidden weapons to take them out, and then drags Chuck the hell out of dodge. And into the Toyota. Sarah and Chuck climb into the Nerd Herder and Sarah drives backward down the street, Casey right behind (well, technically in front) of them. Chuck doesn’t understand why the government would be after a nobody like him.

Sarah leads Chuck to a rooftop and tells him that Bryce betrayed the CIA by sending him the email. But Chuck tells her that he opened the email and saw all of the pictures, and everything changes. Casey has finally caught up to them, but Sarah says Casey can’t kill Chuck. He opened the email and saw the pictures. All of the secrets are in Chuck’s head. He is the computer now.

Chuck confirms Sarah’s statement by having another flash. There’s a plot to kill visiting General Stanfield. The demolitions guy Chuck saw built a bomb, and it’s in the general’s hotel right now. Casey, Sarah, and Chuck race to the hotel. They find the bomb but it’s set to go off in 90 seconds. They don’t have time to evacuate; they have to find a way to defuse it.

Chuck recognizes the laptop attached to the bomb. It’s the same kind that was destroyed by the Irene Demova virus back at the Buy More. So Chuck does a quick internet search for porn and fries the computer, saving the day.

Once the immediate threat is over, Casey and Sarah argue about what to do with Chuck now. But it’s all a little too much for Chuck, and he leaves. Sarah finds Chuck at the beach and explains that for now, he will go back to his old life. Casey and Sarah will protect him and he’ll work with them. But he can’t tell his family or friends anything. When Chuck goes to work, Casey is their newest employee and Sarah is strolling the aisles. Everything is different now.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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