Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

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Chuck vs. That Other Twentysomething Slacker Given Great Responsibility

We humans are drawn to patterns. We like to see things in relation to other things, as this helps us form and comprehend a more cohesive reality. And thus, every television season, we cannot help but see strong similarities between some of the new crop of shows. For instance, could you really tell the difference between Invasion, Threshold, and Surface? This season, we had two shows about twentysomething slackers working in specialty stores who had new roles thrust upon them in a science-fiction-y or fantasy fashion. Those shows were Chuck and Reaper, and now, seven episodes into both shows, let us pit them against each other in various categories in order to determine which is better, because if there's another thing humans like, it's winning stuff.

Chuck vs. Reaper

"Chuck" vs. "Reaper"

Winner: REAPER. That's a cool name. Come on now. Chuck could be about anything. A guy named Chuck. A girl named Chuck. Who knows?! Reaper promises death and hell and all that good stuff.

Titles of Episodes
"Chuck vs. X" vs. "Usually Some One-Word Thing Related to the Soul or Maybe a Pun"

Winner: CHUCK. Sure, they stole it from The Tick, but you've got to love a show with episodes called "Chuck vs. the Sizzling Shrimp" and "Chuck vs. the Sandworm."

A terribly cute animation set to "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" vs. A two-second non-credit sequence with a nametag that reads "Have a Bad Day"

Winner: CHUCK. I love the credits! They're so much fun, and they fit the show so well.

Director of Pilot
McG vs. Kevin Smith

Winner: REAPER. Seriously, what the hell kind of a name is McG?

Josh Schwartz vs. Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters

Winner: CHUCK. Josh Schwartz created the pop-culture phenomenon known as The O.C., and Fazekas and Butters...wrote a bunch of Law and Order: SVU episodes.

Veronica Mars Writers
Phil Klemmer vs. No One

Winner: CHUCK. What. This is an important category.

"Guy gets intelligence data loaded into his head" vs. "Guy works for the devil to send souls back to hell"

Winner: REAPER. That just sounds way cooler.

Delivering on Promise of Premise
"Chuck gets flashes of subliminal images to identify potential terrorists and threats to national security" vs. "Sam gets sent on wild goose chases for no good reason"

Winner: CHUCK. Chuck has already gone back to the pilot and starting answering questions about what's going on. Reaper has yet to build a coherent mythology.

Main Character
Chuck (Zachary Levi) vs. Sam (Bret Harrison)

Winner: CHUCK. Chuck is incredibly endearing, but Zachary Levi grounds him as a person with his own hopes and dreams, but stuck in a bizarre situation. Sam is also likable, but...he just seems to complain a lot. Bret Harrison gives good awkward, though.

Best Friend/Sidekick
Morgan (Joshua Gomez) vs. Sock (Tyler Labine)

Winner: REAPER. Morgan is Chuck's weak link, although he's been improving lately. Sock is much funnier and a lot more fun. Tyler Labine has fifteen times the charisma of Joshua Gomez. That being said, Morgan has actually had character development already, and I'm not sure whether Sock actually has a character.

Hot Brunette Who Must Be Kept in the Dark About the Main Character's Secret
Sarah Lancaster vs. Missy Peregrym

Winner: REAPER. Missy Peregrym is so pretty! I think the cute-character look is much better for her than the bad-girl Candace look.

Hot Blonde Who Gets to Know What the Main Character Is Up To
Yvonne Strahovski vs. Allison Hossack

Winner: CHUCK. Sorry, Allison Hossack, even though you don't appear to have aged in ten years, I haven't seen you in your underwear.

Love Interest
Sarah vs. Andi

Winner: CHUCK. There doesn't really seem to be much to Andi as a character, even though she seems very nice. Sarah has a complex past, and she's a ninja. It's really no contest.

Ellie vs. That Brother of Sam's We Like Never Fucking See

Winner: CHUCK. Again, no contest, and I really like the relationship between Chuck and Ellie. It's sweet.

The Little Boss
Harry Tang (C.S. Lee) vs. Ted (Donavon Stinson)

Winner: CHUCK. Oh, Masuka! Even though Ted's schmucktasticness is entertaining (and his Halloween costumes were awesome), Harry Tang is much more memorable and more fun to hate.

The Big Boss
CIA Director Graham (Tony Todd) vs. The Devil (Ray Wise)

Winner: REAPER. Look, it's Candyman vs. Satan. Ray Wise is one of the strengths of the show and usually the main reason people go ga-ga over it. He has a lot of fun with the role, even though the characterization is kind of wonky. Why is he so interested in Sam? Doesn't he have other bounty hunters?

Buy More vs. The Work Bench

Winner: CHUCK. I like Best Buy more than Home Depot. Plus, the Buy More actually satirizes the store it's standing in for, whereas The Work Bench is kind of just...there.

Actual Work Done in Workplace
"Chuck and his pals actually service customers, and Chuck does most of his spy stuff after hours" vs. "Sam and friends are always running out during work hours and they're always stealing supplies and it's a wonder they haven't been fired yet"

Winner: CHUCK.

Diversity in the Workplace
Big Mike (African-American), Harry Tang (Korean), Anna Wu (Chinese), Lester (Indian), and Morgan Grimes (Hispanic) vs. Ben (Hispanic)

Winner: CHUCK. Um, Josie's black? Does that count?

Crisp, clear, vibrant vs. Dull and slightly washed-out

Winner: CHUCK. I don't know why it just looks like a real show, whereas it looks like they're using old filmstock for Reaper.

Abrupt shifts between dramatic scenes and comedic nonsense vs. Clear comedic focus with some drama mixed in

Winner: REAPER. I still feel like it's more cohesive tonally.

A wide variety of plots that mix Chuck's spy action with his home life vs. About two plots

Winner: CHUCK. Last week's Halloween episode was about the only episode that broke out of the Reaper formula, which is Sam going after both a soul and Andi's heart and only catching the former, getting farther and farther away from the later. But Chuck goes on stakeouts and meets different kinds of agents and terrorists and actually has relationships with multiple characters.

Continual forward progress on Chuck's relationships with the other characters, exploration of various characters' pasts, and an ongoing Buy More storyline just for the fun of it vs. Approximately one intriguing piece of the overall arc

Winner: CHUCK. There's so much more going on on Chuck. With Reaper, the whole Sam/Andi thing showed promise at first but then was killed when the Devil made it clear she couldn't know about him. And there just never seems to be any big movement in the larger arc to spice up the fact that every week is the same story: catch an escaped soul and everything goes back to normal until the next time.

Josh Schwartz's iPod vs. All the good music was in the pilot

Winner: CHUCK. I was impressed with the music in the Reaper pilot, but it hasn't really lived up to that selection, whereas Chuck has used Teddybears, Beck, Jet, the Shins, Spoon, Gnarls Barkley, the New Pornographers, Finley Quaye featuring Beth Orton, Oasis, and the Fratellis. To name a few.

Number of Zork References
2 vs. 0

Winner: CHUCK. Sam is likely to be eaten by a grue.

Household Objects Used to Defeat Evil
Um...porn? vs. Dirt Devil, remote-control truck, toaster, dove, sweater, snow globe, meat thermometer, and 8-track tape

Winner: REAPER. Look, I had to give it something. And I love the vessels. They amuse me. And they lead to Delores Herbig at the DMV.

Five bazillion vs. 3 or something

Winner: CHUCK. I'll admit I kind of stacked the deck a little, but, honestly, it wasn't very hard because Chuck appears to be the superior show in almost every respect. It makes me wonder why I watch Reaper at all. It's not like it sucks or anything; it's perfectly enjoyable and entertaining and fun. And I've heard there are some interesting developments in the future. But I would not be sad to lose it, although I would feel bad for Bret Harrison having another show cancelled. It's weird that from the pilots, my opinions were reversed; hell, I hadn't even planned on checking out Chuck at all. But here we are, seven weeks later, and I recommend checking out Chuck and passing on Reaper if you were to choose only one.
Tags: chuck, phil klemmer, polter-cow vs. this tag, reaper, tv
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