I’ve got two words that come to mind with this week’s Chuck: Gary Cole.
While he’s a fine dramatic actor (I still miss Wanted and to a lesser extent, Crusade), Gary Cole is always going to be Bill Lumbergh from Office Space to me. He’s got great comedic ability that makes everyone around him funnier, and his work as Sarah’s con-artist father Jack Burton is no exception. I know much has been made of Linda Hamilton’s casting as Chuck’s mom this season, but I’d say Cole is just as good as Sarah’s father. It was immensely fun to see Jack actually somewhat in charge of Team Bartowski this week, and that provided a different energy to the episode as a whole that made it stand out for me. I wasn’t sure it would even work, but it was a pleasant surprise.
When I first heard of the premise for this episode, I was a bit skeptical. A pair of CIA agents outsmarted by a con artist? Especially when one of them was raised by a con artist? Thankfully, the episode addresses that concern within the first ten minutes. It uses that inherent skepticism to allow us to laugh at Chuck and Sarah as much as we laugh with them, particularly when they dig themselves a huge hole in trying to pass off their faux wedding planner as a terrorist threat. There’s nothing I dislike more than a plot that throws sense out the window for entertainment value, so I appreciate that this episode not only addresses the obvious concerns but almost seems to poke fun at itself. In fact, since I live in the area and have actually been on a SuperShuttle, I found that particular sequence pretty hilarious. This is one of the funnier episodes of the season in my book.
Chuck is primarily a comedy, of course, but what’s made it memorable is the heart that’s found inside the show. Sarah’s relationship with her father could easily get melodramatic (how many leading characters on television have horrible relationships with one or both of their parents?), but it never does. Then there’s the equally bittersweet reunion between Casey and his former fiancee Kathleen. The show’s been teasing that one all season long, so I had a certain level of expectation built up, and it delivered. We know him primarily for kicking butt and taking names, but I don’t think Adam Baldwin gets enough credit for just how great of an actor he is. He’s incredibly talented.
“Chuck Versus The Wedding Planner” reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with this show a year ago. It’s fun, and funny without being campy, but more importantly, it’s got heart. It’s an episode that made me think, “This is why people fight for this show season after season.” If it helps turn out more episodes like these, Gary Cole can drop by anytime he likes. I, for one, will be glad to see him.