Chuck Versus Get Smart

Egad! I haven’t posted in almost a month! Sorry, folks. I guess I’ve been a little preoccupied with scholarship apps, etc. I’ll try to be a little more on the ball.

Anyway. . .

Ever since Chuck premiered about four years ago, I’ve been comparing it to Get Smart in my mind. Sure, it has a different story, different characters, and came along about 42 years after Get Smart, but it has the same premise and genre. At its core, Chuck is a goofy slapstick spy comedy which makes frequent use of some highly ridiculous word jokes. Also, although the show didn’t start out this way, the main characters have been fighting a large organization of evil of one kind or another (vaguely reminiscent of KAOS) for most of the show’s run. Over this last season, the organization was even headed by a Russian named Volkoff (played by British actor and two-time James Bond Timothy Dalton). Finally, the main character and his leading lady were married in both programs, although the proposal in Get Smart was more silly and the one in Chuck was more sentimental.

The main differences between these two programs seems to be the considerably more sentimental slant in the show Chuck and the occasional elements meant to convey a certain degree of “cool factor.” While Get Smart focused on packing as many jokes into the time allotted as possible, Chuck generally spends at least one or two scenes on a big stunt or action sequence to get an “ooh” out of the audience and ends each episode with something warm and fuzzy to get an “aww” out of the audience. While Chuck does occasionally the veer a little too close to melodrama on occasion, the show is really fairly balanced overall. I would guess that the occasional forays into excessive melodrama are due to the influence of Josh Schwartz (who was also involved with The O.C and Gossip Girl). Co-creator Chris Fedak is pretty much a mystery at this point. As for Get Smart, the comedic style of the writing was unmistakably the most heavily influenced by Mel Brooks (who is best known for his early writing on Sid Caesar’s television programs and for movies such as Blazing Saddles and Dracula: Dead and Loving it!).

It is worth noting, however, that many of the routines appearing in Chuck seem to almost be homages to the writing style in Get Smart. In the episode Chuck Versus the First Bank of Evil, for example, Ray Wise (playing Volkoff’s lawyer) started the episode with a brief yet highly ridiculous routine fully worthy of Get Smart.

It would be impossible for me to choose which of these two shows I like better. I like both for slightly different reasons, and many of the same reasons. One could make any number of arguments in favor of either program, but I like to think that any modern viewer who is a fan of classic Get Smart episodes will also be a fan of Chuck. Hopefully, it will continue to be the same hilarious, action-packed, sentimental, and minimally melodramatic program it has always been.

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