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ChuckNBC070924.jpgGeek chic is in this fall, with new series like “The Big Bang Theory” as well as the returning reality series “Beauty and the Geek.” And now NBC is hoping their geek, 20-something computer whiz Chuck Bartowski will help pull them out of the ratings cellar, as the series “Chuck” premieres tonight.
Chuck is just another employee who works as a troubleshooting tech expert at an electroniscs superstore (think along the lines of those guys that fix your Apple products at the Apple Genuis Bar). His friends and his sister realize that the sweet but introverted man has never lived up to his potential since he graduated from college, and they desparately attempt to help poor Chuck get a life. Then one day Chuck receives a mysterious e-mail from a former college buddy, and faster than you can say “computer virus,” Chuck’s life is changed much more than he wants it to be, as he suddenly becomes a walking, talking hard-drive of classified government information.


“Chuck” tries for an odd mix of comedy and action, hoping, I think, to hit upon the quirky balance that a show like “Ugly Betty” achieves, but it is mostly unsuccessful. Even if you want to buy into the implausible premise, many of the crime adventure scenes are ridiculous and the blonde secret agent is completely one-dimensional and uninteresting.
Which is all very unfortunate, because what is thoroughly enjoyable about this show is actor Zachary Levi’s performance as Chuck. Watching the pilot, I almost didn’t recognize him because the last time I saw him on TV he was playing a very different character–an uptight corporate climber over on ABC’s forgettable sitcom “Less Than Perfect.” Having interviewed Levi–who happens to be a devout Christian–for CCM magazine at the time, I have to say, this part seems more like a natural fit for him because I remember him being sweet and unassuming while self-deprecatingly referring to himself as a bit of a nerd.
So while I definitely want to see more of Levi as this character, his befuddled charm as Chuck is still not enough for me to recommend the show, and I am guessing Chuck’s career saving the world is going to be short-lived.

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