Chuck vs. the Beard
Chuck is a fundamentally silly show. Its version of international espionage involves many more “missions,” “secrets” and “being a spy” in 44 minutes than actual undercover operatives might use in their entire careers. But as the closest spiritual successor to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it uses spy movie tropes to set the stage for stories that are allegorical. Buffy brought vampires, monsters and hellmouths to high school; Chuck brings James Bond to mid-20’s malaise.
Chuck’s second season paralleled stories in spy world with stories in Buy Moria, but the best episodes brought the two together. Just as Joyce Summer eventually learned about her daughter being the Slayer, this episode serves to further integrate Chuck’s spy life with his real life. While Chuck has become more of an ass as he’s used the Intersect 2.0 to become more of a spy (in particular, breaking up with Hannah), he’s fundamentally still a good person, who needs to talk about things with his friends and family. Unlike Sarah, Chuck has people close to him from whom he doesn’t want to keep big secrets (there’s that word again.)
One of the things that the show fixed from its first to second seasons was the character of Morgan. Josh Gomez dialed his performance down closer to human. Unfortunately, Morgan largely reverts to some of the overbearing nerd. Perhaps this was a conscious choice by first-time director Zachary Levi, or perhaps this was the character just freaking out when he learns that the Buy More is a cover for a joint CIA-NSA task force.
Although Office Space alumnus Diedrich Bader plays a twisted version of The Bobs and gives Chuck and Morgan a chance to have their biggest bromantic moment of the third season, it also plays against Jeffster performing CCR’s “Fortunate Son,” hand to hand combat and a Buy Moria take Iwo Jima.
How I Met Your Mother, “Of Course”
The second act of “Of Course” may have been this show’s single best act of the entire series. Realizing that breaking up Barney and Robin couldn’t just be a return to the status quo, HIMYM finally realized that the relationship did have an effect on the characters and that they couldn’t just go back to hanging out at McLaren’s together without consequences.
Fully integrated the heart and the funny. The emotional beats were cut properly with laughs, like Marshall’s song getting more involved each time we revisit it. And how can you not like an episode where Marshall punches the head off of a Stormtrooper and adds, “frankly, I’m still angry at the Empire”
Chuck vs. the Beard