Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Lessons Learned From Chuck
I haven't gotten any (fictional) writing done today. Why not? Because I'm rolling around in Chuck episodes like catnip.
Man, if there was ever a tie-in novel I would LOVE to write, it would be novels for the TV show Chuck. So. Good. That show does (*sniffle* did) so many things right--things I want to do in my own writing. The premise: An underachiever (Chuck) who works at a local electronics store is sent an email containing ALL of the government secrets. Upon opening the email, all of the secrets are transmitted into his mind using seemingly random images. Multiple government agencies track Chuck down, and must decide what to do with him. Sarah Walker is CIA and John Casey is NSA. Both are assassins and tasked to protect Chuck as a prized asset even as they explore his ability to recall top government secrets whenever he encounters anything that links to one of the files--all while Chuck tries to maintain his ho-hum life without anyone finding out that he has suddenly become a government spy.
Much campy action and heart-string moments ensue.
But really, what gets me about this show is the obvious passion in the work of everyone participating in it. For those of you who haven't watched the series, here's a simple example of the attention to detail that gets me lost in the show for hours and hours.
The first time Sarah Walker meets Chuck in the Buy More (when she comes in to assess what level of threat he poses to the nation's security) in the Pilot of the series, she's wearing this: ---------------------------------------------->
The last time Chuck meets Sarah Walker in the Buy More in the series finale (5 seasons later), she is wearing the outfit on the left.
Now some of you may be thinking, "So? They put her in the same color pallet. Nothing original about that. In fact, one might call it cliche."
But when you multiply little Easter egg details like this by the hundreds, you get a typical Chuck episode.
Details like this don't happen on accident. They take thought, planning, and passion. You have to literally be in love with your project--laying in bed at night and thinking about it as you stare at your ceiling. More than once I've watched a Chuck episode and thought, "Really? This was directed and written by a man???" Men... they try to act all tough and impervious, but the proof is the production when it comes to what they really think about romance and comedy. And, if Chuck is any indicator, men pay a LOT more attention to the details than most women think. Just different details.
Why do I love Chuck? Because the creators loved their show so much and so well that they could literally show me how to fall in love with their characters as well. And that, in my world, is what the craft of storytelling is all about. It's what all creators, whatever their craft, endeavor to do. Some just do it better than others. In my world, Chuck gets very high marks. My heart literally hurts that the show is over, and the storyteller in me is all but compelled to continue the story. I love the characters that much. Losing them feels like a break up. When I think about it rationally, I just laugh. There are SO MANY things in the world to care about--to think about!
And I miss Chuck.
So trite in the scheme of things... and yet, it's real.
All that said, if you haven't checked out Chuck, give it a try. After all, when one finds catnip, the nice thing to do is share. :)
In the meantime, I will do my best to find other forms of Rhea-flavored catnip for your future consumption while you watch the first meeting of Chuck and Sarah from the series Pilot. Enjoy!