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New 'Chuck' romances destroy television, life itself

NUP_138403_0174 So, hey, when you were watching Monday's episode of "Chuck," "Chuck Versus the Mask," I'll bet you had a pretty good time with it. I'll bet you mostly enjoyed it, right? You got a few laughs, you saw your favorite characters goofing around, and you watched Sarah kick some bad guys right in their faces. Also, there was a cliffhanger that probably left you reasonably intrigued about where the show would go when it came back from the Winter Olympics-imposed hiatus in three weeks.

So maybe you thought all that. Did you know you were wrong? Did you know that "Chuck Versus the Mask" was, in fact, the WORST EPISODE OF TELEVISION EVER PRODUCED?! I can see why you might have been confused, because if nothing else, "Chuck Versus the Mask" had competent production values and a cast that gives every line its all, as opposed to anything like a man's mother being reincarnated as a car. But, no, you were mistaken.

Or so say the many legions of fans known as the Chuck/Sarah 'shippers (short for "relationshippers," or, rather, fans who derive all enjoyment of a show from watching a particular couple get together and/or dreaming of the moment when it will happen. Said 'shippers, disturbed by the fact that the episode ended with Chuck and Sarah both pursuing other romantic partners, have invaded the comments section at Alan Sepinwall's highly read What's Alan Watching blog as well as the NBC.com message boards to complain about how the show has done them wrong and how the characters have, somehow, completely betrayed everything they stand for by KISSING OTHER PEOPLE. GRR.

Here are a couple of sample comments from Sepinwall's site. The first to take a negative tone toward the episode was posted by Anonymous (they're always posted by Anonymous) at 9:07 p.m. EST Monday. (All quotes, including spelling and grammar, are verbatim.):

sorry i think you are great Alan but check the NBC Chuck forums the show fans are in revolt. Your way off here Alan that was the worst episode ever they killed the characters. A comment for one poster on NBC was 'The show runners finally killed Chuck...'

Yeah! The ... NBC "Chuck" forums are proof of ... the fans ... who want the ... wait. What are we talking about?

Later, the fans (led by another Anonymous) threaten a boycott:

When Chuck returns after the Olympics, no one should watch it on air. Rather we should all watch it online at Hulu or any other online service we can find. Failing that, DVR the show and watch it that way.

That way we can send a message to NBC and the producers of the show that we are still interested in the show but we are not prepared to settle for the caliber of show we saw last night.

Yeah, because NBC will totally give the "Chuck" producers what-for until they make the show what your small but very loud community of fans wants, rather than just canceling it outright. Good plan! (Also, I like how much this Anonymous contradicts him/herself.)

It's fun to make light of fan outrages like this, but this faux controversy has apparently become a big enough thing that Sepinwall sat down with series creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak to have them try to calm the fray.  

Now, I'd say more about my personal feelings on this, but I think I said more than enough in my Monday "Chuck" recap. If you're afraid this spells DOOM for Chuck and Sarah, go read that post. Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski have one thing that Brandon Routh and Kristin Kreuk don't have. And that's called a contract.

Still, it's a weird way for the show to go on hiatus. Elsewhere, Linda Holmes and Myles McNutt chastise 'shippers, kvanaren at Telephonoscope collects more outraged fan quotes, and Jaime Weinman wonders what it all means.

-- Todd VanDerWerff (follow me on Twitter at @tvoti)

Photo: Kristin Kreuk's Hannah is Beelzebub himself, to hear some "Chuck" fans tell it. Credit: NBC

Related articles:

'Chuck': Chuck and Sarah fall in love -- just not with each other

'Chuck': Chuck feels the power of the dark side

'Chuck': 'Chuck' hits a new high

Comments () | Archives (24)

Bear in mind, a great many people loathed Kristin Kreuk on Smallville. It's not just that Chuck is no longer with Sarah; he's with Lana Lang. *shudder*

The chastising of fans by critics and the condescension has been outrageous. As a long time fan of the show, I agree that it was a horrible path to put these 2 characters on, in the way it was done, in the time it was done, for lots of reasons. You don't have to agree. I think fans have every right to speak out, to disagree with critics, and to be vocal (but not abusive) about it. If fans want to start a campaign ot save a show as they did with Chuck, they can, if they want to start one to end it they can. Unfortunately I think there is a great deal of arrogance in the critics and Josh Schwart's attitude toward the unhappy fans. You yourself refer to them as a small minority and use the often belittling term of "Shippers". Being unhappy with the current plotline doesn't mean one has some unhealthy relationship to these characters and whether it's a small group or not, we don't know yet. Many, many shows have failed their characters and fans, and yes, the Chuck writers did both Monday night, and those shows also heard from fans about it. The fans who are unhappy are rightfully outraged in their opinion. The ratings will tell the tale I suppose at the end of the day--does it matter if you trash your main characters--both the love aspect and just them in general-if you make them dishonrable, unlikeable, etc? I think we all tune out a story when we stop relating to and cheering on the characters. Nothing abnormal about that. JS and CF seem to want it both ways. They want fans to rally and support them, but only if they support the wholly unlikeable story they are currently telling with Chuck and Sarah. Season 3 by any account has not been as strong as 1 and 2--some of that due to budgetary contraints certainly--but let's call it what it is. In his interview yesterday with Alan Sepinwall, JS was unapologetic about the story arc so he needs to stand by it then and the fans can choose to not watch if they wish and shouldn't be derided for doing so. CAlling them crazy, the reaction crazy, only makes it worse.

I'm sorry....is this stupid show still on the air?

Chuck is a great show and that was a good episode with more to come. This whole uproar is crazy. Shippers relax sit down and bucket-up because the car is in motion and the ride is bumpy and fast. That is just part of what makes the ride so much fun. It is also very much like love. If love was easy it would not be so valued by all.

Why is every one so outraged? I guess we're the only ones who enjoyed the romantic diversity. Do they think this love square is permanent - hellloooo it's TV (*insert Rachel and Ross reference*). Chuck and Sarah's relationship has become so complicated, which is not a bad thing, it's just that it's nice to see them paired with people who they can relax around. I think this double love interest storyline helps the show far more than it hurts it. If anything it helps to build the shows tension because now we're wondering how Sarah and Chuck are going to find their way back to each other this time.

And if fans can start making demands by holding NBC's forums hostage, can I make a suggestion - Can we give Casey a love interest? I realize that it would probably be a toss up between his knife and his gun collection, but I still think he should get a lady friend.

I'm not sure what the fans are so up in arms about. There hasn't been a real relationship between Chuck and Sarah the entire time the series has been on. All this move does is further complicate the already complicated feelings they have for each other by throwing other people into the mix. I have news for anyone who wants to see Chuck and Sarah together - it's never going to happen until the final episode of the series, or at least the final season. Oops, that could be now? I hope not, do love the show.

Way to go to town on that straw man. What are you going to do for an encore, box a quadriplegic?

All snarkiness aside, while it's fairly certain that all the "shippers" were upset by last night's show, not all fans who were unhappy with the show are "shippers". I'll restate this one more time for emphasis. Shippers are only a subset of the fans who were upset with last night's show, particularly the last 15 minutes. A far larger legion of fans, albeit one that is somewhat less vocal felt that the last 15 minutes were rushed which led to key characters acting in a manner that was inconsistent with their long established personalities and even questionable within the framework of a single episode.

What surprises me is that Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak and the legions of critics aren't addressing legitimate complaints. They aren't explaining how the last 15 minutes of the show was actually decent writing and consistent with the characters that were established over the last 2 seasons. They simply conclude all the noise is being made by the "shippers" going supernova, heap some vitriol on them, tell everyone to move on, there's nothing to see here.

Personally, I liked last nights episode. I thought it was one of the better episodes of the season up through the second to the last commercial break. Then it was almost as if the show had somehow slid down the rabbit hole while I was occupied watching erectile dysfunction commercials. The main characters give in to their PLI and both now seem OK with that, while the man who feels attachments are bad news for spies joins them for a dip in the love polygon pool.

Chuck fans are asked to suspend disbelief and swallow a lot. Accepting that the entire government intelligence database replete with a library of physical skills can be transferred into a single person's brain is probably the largest one, but there's numerous other plot holes, and fantastical events we're expected to accept. The one thing that has been consistent and believable is the emotions of the characters and their relationships with one another. As long as the characters feel real and their relationships relatable and honest the fans can accommodate the fantastical. Sacrifice that and the show risks destroying the audience's ability to suspend their disbelief. I suspect that's what happened to a portion of the fan base last night and I hope that whatever they lost can somehow be found and allow them to enjoy the remainder of the season.

1. I have no respect for shippers and really wish their comments on the internet were invisible. Please, stick to reality TV if a relationship is the only thing you watch a show for.

2. I'm glad we live in an age where feedback can come instantly, but stop with the entitlement schtick. The show runners don't owe anyone an explanation for why they're writing the show they're writing. It's like the creepy woman in Misery has taken over en masse.

Also, can we stop the overuse of the word "fan". It's short for fanatic, and anyone who's described as a fan of something is automatically unable to be objective about it. I'm a Dodger fan, completely unable to keep myself from rational viewpoints when I'm watching a game.

But if you lose perspective on some fiction you are watching or reading, then you lose the ability to actually understand what's going on.

I am in total agreement of this article and thought the last episode was great. I just wanted to post something as it seems only the angry, entitled "fans" seem to be posting. I tend to hate hecklers - people who rather tear stuff down then try and create something original themselves. And I think its arrogant of both 'shippers' and anyone else to say declarative statements like "They just killed Chuck" and "No one will watch now" or have the freakin' gall to try to organize a way to kill the show. Yes, they are "trying to send a message" but TV doesn't work like that. All they are doing is hurting its chances of getting a 4th season - and if you want to end it...JUST DON'T WATCH IT. Or better yet, stick around a few more episodes to see where the story goes. Don't go for a scorched earth policy when other fans think the show is doing just fine. Better even. I don't view last nights show as failing the fans but the following reaction are some of the fans failing the show. I think season 3 is awesome and want to thank all the people behind Chuck for giving it to us. I hope they don't let a few very vocal malcontents give you the impression that all us fans are like that. Loving the show!


Chuck and Hannah FTW!
How can anyone vote against Kristin Kreuk!

Sarah was left by Chuck when she wanted to be with him in Prague, hence her position of having a rebound guy(Shaw). Secondly, you should realize that this is exactly the right suspense there should be when taking a 2-3week break because of the olympics. This was a great cliffhanger which leaves me wanting to watch more to make sure they don't end up with their current partners at the end of the season. Also "the ring" is a great touch.

Normally, I don't feel the need to address something this stupid, but for the critics and bloggers to criticize the fans for speaking their minds is, well stupid.
As consumers they have every right to express their opinion and to make fun them and proceed to call them names makes you better how?

This also calls into question the credibility of the "critics" themselves. The episode was poorly done and the characters were sacrificed for the story line.
They should really apologize to Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski for actually making them read that mess. Because, honestly they are so much better than what the viewers saw on Monday night.

I love how this article acts as though "shippers" are some crazy fringe group who don't understand the beauty and perfection of a flawless show like Chuck because they dared to question the writers of this most wonderful show ever made.


Also, there isn't a single person who watches Chuck that doesn't have an opinion about whether the two leads should get together or not. Every fan is a shipper or an anti-shipper. They just don't use those terms but that's what they are. And it's not limited to Chuck, this is true of pretty much every show ever made.

I am sure it is clear to the fans that Kristen and Brandon are going to be leaving the show unlike Zac and Yvonne. However it is the character development and personality that is effected by the new love interest. The new love interests are an old trick with a new face, you cant put lipstick on a pig and expect nobody to notice. We have seen "Hannah" and "Shaw" before from seasons 1&2. Anybody remember "Luo" and "Bryce". Or "Jill" and "Cole".

Lol, this whole debate is hilarious. I've loved Chuck since the beginning, but I don't presume to have creative rights over the show. The writers proved to rabid and non rabid fans alike over these few short years that they can create and maintain the fundamental likability of our favorite characters, so where's the faith? It's one episode. Besides, at the end of the day we all must turn our televisions off and face the real world again, but if you're really itching for someone to blame I suggest venting your frustrations during the Winter Olympics. Pick a figure skater or curling team and aim your blame beam, eventually someone will biff their triple lutz or mis-shuffle their broom and you can yell "That's for Chuck!" and all will be right with the world.

It's just a tv show.

I love Chuck. I enjoyed last night's episode. I also get that this is likely a short term twist to a longer path as both Routh and Kreuk are short term guest stars.

Man, these forums bring out people who think their personal, subjective opinions are 'facts'.

wow, chuck fans are starting to act like fall out boy fans. im pretty scared

oh come on. Everyone knows that they need to throw as many obstacles in Sarah and Chuck's path as possible, that's how TV works (as it has since... Moonlighting?). Obviously Chuck and Sarah are going to get together in the very last episode.

But here's the real worry: what if the show gets canceled before they film that very last episode?

All I can say is that when the arc with Kristin Kreuk is over, I hope the writers manage to slip in a Smallville reference, For example, her throwing up her hands, saying something like "why do I always fall for guys with secret identities" and walking out.

Yay, another arrogant condescending tabloid hack!

Some people are annoyed by the repetitive nature of the show, the leads have an almost palpable chemistry and yet the writer hacks write in contrived roadblock after roadblock over and over just to keep them apart.

Thats what annoys fans, and they have every right to feel that way without being pissed on by blog posters.

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