’Cause This Is Filler, Filler, Right?

Regular commenter Anthony Strand made a great point the other week about Chuck:

I agree that Chuck needs to cut filler, but it’s not the spy/Sarah stuff – it’s Buy More. Every single week, I sit around waiting for those scenes to end. It was better last week, when they actually managed to involve Chuck in the Buy More storyline, but so far that’s an exception rather than the rule. The staff there aren’t interesting, they aren’t funny, they aren’t memorable in any way. The show would improve exponentially if it dumped those subplots entirely.

I understand that they’re an excuse to not put Zachary Levi in every scene. But there’s gotta be a better way to do that.

He’s right, and that was pretty obvious last night: we kept having to sit through Tony Hale scenes when we (and by “we” I mean “I”) just wanted to get back to the fun spy/romance story. I know Tony Hale was added to the show to make the Buy More scenes more fun, but if anything he just emphasizes how irrelevant these scenes are: if even a fairly well-known comic actor can’t make this part of the show feel essential, then maybe it shouldn’t be there. (And though these scenes are “comic relief,” they’re actually a lot less funny than the spy scenes; Adam Baldwin’s character provides more and better laughs than the Buy More crew. Plus the Buy More scenes are yet another batch of scenes that overdo it on the music: must every show have all those pizzicato noodlings under dialogue to assure us that this scene is supposed to be hilarious?)

But he’s also right that the obvious purpose of these scenes is to give Zachary Levi some rest. Today’s TV shows try not to have one or two characters who have to be in every scene — shows like that are impossible to schedule, and lead to early burnout for the actor and (sometimes) reduced production values. But Chuck is really all about Chuck; even when he’s not onscreen, people are always talking about him, and the stories lose energy and focus when he’s offscreen for too long. Giving subplots to the residents of BuyMoria is one way of lightening the load, but it never really works. Yet they can’t really transfer the subplots to Sarah and John, because most of what they do inevitably involves Chuck.  So apart from the old TV standby, adding in lots of car chases and letting the stuntmen do the work while the actors take a break, I don’t know exactly what Chuck could do that would a) give other characters some more time while b) not distracting from the stuff that makes the stories fun.

Oh, and did you notice that last night when What’s Opera, Doc? was playing on the TVs in the Buy More, there was a different part of the cartoon playing from every angle? (When they cut to one angle it was the beginning of the cartoon, when they cut to the other angle, it was near the end.) You didn’t notice that? Good, because the continuity people were hoping we wouldn’t.