Chuck

1 10 2007

Chris Fedak, in a phone conversation now years old, once asked me if I watched much TV. I forget the program in question. It might have been Boomtown; if so, this was before he married the lovely Lisa. I was either in France or didn’t own a TV at the time, and the fifth amendment prevents me from further revelations. I said no.

He said, You should. It keeps your dreams humble.

Since then, everything’s happened really fast. TV’s gotten better, the press has admitted that it’s gotten better, and many are the ways to watch it without the actual box taking up precious apartment space in an “entertainment cabinet” (echoes of von Kempelen’s Turk?). We’re a far cry from those yellow ABC billboards of fall ’98, proclaiming the couch potato revolution and the right to dumbness, that delighted my media studies professor so. HBO has, in the meantime, become HBO. People take TV seriously. No longer is the boob tube a sort of purgatory where stars past the prime of their fame are put to Elysian pasture, there to make do with bad dialogue before Friday night family audiences. No more are aging actors banished from the silver screen to the small but, in front of households that have missed them, live out satisfying second lives that fall comfortingly short of total reinvention. Middle age is okay now; it’s socially acceptable. I won’t name names, in case I’m not right. It’s all part of the past coming back and living forever, repackaged.

Since then, I’ve managed to misquote my friend, to several pretty girls at parties, as having said “TV kills your dreams.” I know this is not what he said, because he is now living the dream via TV, as the co-creator of NBC’s Chuck. I keep watching, if only to spot my old friend’s fingerprints. The theme of a recent episode seemed to be that pervasive post-college malaise of somehow having failed to go from graduation straight to a fat check from the big time.

The genius is loose, with his own damn show. Chuck is quick-witted and shoots from the hip, or perhaps just hipness itself. Check it.

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