Man, I didn't notice it happening, I really didn't, but at some point during last night's episode of Chuck I found myself overwhelmed by a sense of meh. I have watched and enjoyed this show from the beginning. Despite some questionable plot lines and oft continued rehashing of supposedly resolved stories, I have never found the show anything less than entertaining.
But last night, as Sarah was on the phone with Ellie failing to get excited about her wedding plans, I realized that I had barely been paying attention, and really wasn't that worried that I might have missed something. Sigh.
Possibly the frequently ever-more negative reviews of the show over at Pink Raygun are getting to me, though I like to think that isn't it. Though maybe it is just that they are pointing out things that I am also seeing. While I may not disagree with those aspects of the show with the same vehemence as the reviewer, they are starting to wear on me nonetheless. Heck, I don't think io9 is even covering the show any more, other than in their spoilers section. I can't remember a review of the show at all this season, which seems to indicate none of their writers are watching it anymore (or at least none feel like reviewing it).
I think, for me, it boils down to two things:
Everything that was shiny and new and original about the show has given way to cliches about geeks and spies. It has stopped being a tongue-in-cheek send up the spy genre with loving fun-poking at the nerd culture. Now it is just caricatures and buffoonery, and while that can be amusing from time to time, the writers do not have the kind of handle on it to make those the show's primary features.
Holy crap there is way, way, way, way too much focus on Chuck and Sarah's relationship. Look, I was routing for those kids, I am happy they got together. It is nice that they are gonna get married. But good lord, the way the writers have them acting, struggling over every single step forward they take in their relationship, I am amazed that they are together at all. I frankly find it impossible to believe that they are, in fact, a well-adjusted happy couple. If my husband and I, back when we were dating, had found these many issues coming up every single day, especially once we had started planning our wedding, well, I am pretty sure said wedding would have been called off and we would have gone our separate ways. I know, I know, drama is key to any story, but the relationship drama is the easy out. It is boring and grating. Chuck and Sarah's relationship should be the one solid foundation in their lives, with the drama centered around the actual spy missions. That drama shouldn't be about their relationship getting in the way of missions either (with maybe a once a season, extremely well done exception, twice tops). The drama should be focusing on Chuck's efforts to continue to grow as a spy, reconciling that with his desire not to kill anyone, and how he manages to still get the job done and appease his conscience at the same time. That is the show I want to be watching.
I think it is frustrating to me because now the show is a few seasons in, and instead of looking for new and interesting stories to tell with these characters, the writers have just given up and are coasting on the fumes of the earlier seasons. Sure, they make it seem that the characters are all growing as people--with marriages, and babies, and roommates moving out to strike out on their own for once (don't even get me started at how ridiculous it was that Chuck and Morgan were so reluctant at this stage in their lives to no longer be doing the roommate thing--it was completely unbelievable and I wanted to throw things at my television--it isn't as if anything was changing except that they would be sleeping under different roofs, and as grown men, that's really a good thing). But those changes are superficial. None of the characters have actually grown at all it seems. In fact, they all actually seem to be regressing. What the heezy, people?
So...I'm kind of at a loss with this show right now. I will probably keep watching the season, in hopes that it gets better. But, and I hate to say this, I don't think I'll be all that sad if it doesn't get renewed again. Chuck may have run its course. Who knows, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the next episode will totally surprise me with awesomeness. I can only hope. If not, well, likely I've got a new candidate to weed out come next season.