At the end of this week a big event is going to take place on television: Chuck is coming to an end. After spending five epic seasons on NBC, the action-comedy/spy-drama that debuted to wild fanfare on September 24, 2007 will come to a close with two back-to-back episodes this Friday (January 27), ending what has been an unbelievably funny and exciting series about an average computer-whiz-next-door who received an encoded email from an old college friend who works for the CIA, embedding a copy of the greatest spy secrets of the U.S.A., known as the Intersect, into his brain.
What could have easily been a crazy concept for a TV show turned into a favorite of the critics as well as the fan-obsessed fans who fell for the antics of Chuck and his co-workers at the local Buy More; think Best Buy with green shirts and an even cooler car for the members of the computer service department known as the Nerd Herders.
Despite a lot of support from fans and critics alike, as the show came to a close at the end of its second season, ratings for Chuck put it in danger of cancellation. That is where the fans came into play with a successful campaign to encourage NBC to renew the show. Using the product placement from the show – specifically the Subway restaurant chain – fans mobilized a worldwide effort to shop at Subway, ordering “tens of thousands” of foot-long sandwiches. This effort, of course, caught the attention of the restaurant chain AND the network, who worked out a major sponsorship deal that helped to cover costs of the third season.
Each subsequent season since that time has been a nail-biter for the series and its devoted fans; but despite the biggest odds being stacked against Chuck, the series kept coming back. And while Chuck is coming to a close – just a little short of its 100th episode triumph – the 91 episodes that have been filmed and will be aired by this Friday will leave an indelible mark on TV viewers and the history of television itself.
During those amazing five seasons, viewers have seen Chuck (Zachary Levi) go from a clumsy, somewhat clueless computer tech worker at the Burbank Buy More with a crazy computer stuck inside his head being protected by sexy CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and NSA Major John Casey (Adam Baldwin) slowly turn into an adept spy in his own right, winning the girl of his dreams. Fans have also been introduced to a unique collection of co-workers; including Chuck’s best friend Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez), the scheming team of Lester Patel (Vik Sahay) and Jeff Barnes (Scott Krinsky) and store manager Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) as well as Chuck’s sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and her boyfriend-sans-husband (Ryan McPartlin) and Brigadier General Diane Beckman (Bonita Friedericy).
Over the years, the viewers were also introduced to an eclectic group of guest stars who played spies, family, friends and co-workers to our merry band of spies, family, friends and co-workers. Among those great appearances included the following:
Actor Matthew Bomer (White Collar) as CIA Agent Bryce Larkin, Chuck’s former college buddy and the on-again, off-again boyfriend to Sarah;
Horror-master/Actor Tony Todd (Candyman) as CIA Director Langston Graham, Sarah’s supervisor who recruited her into the agency after her father was arrested;
Actor Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) as long-missing dad Stephen Bartowski, who was involved in the creation of the Intersect;
Actress Linda Hamilton (Terminator franchise) as Mary Elizabeth Bartowski, Chuck and Ellie’s estranged and long-lost mother who turns out to be a deep undercover boss;
Actor Gary Cole (Midnight Caller and Office Space) as Sarah’s estranged father Jack Burton, conman extraordinaire who frequently involved Sarah in his cons as a young girl;
Actor Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) as CIA Agent Daniel Shaw who worked with team Bartowski but later became Chuck’s greatest nemesis;
Actor Timothy Dalton (James Bond franchise) as Alexei Volkoff, an international arms dealer and leader of Volkoff Industries, who was actually a scientist name Harley Winterbottom, who became the first test subject for the Intersect; and,
Actress Mekenna Melvin (a relative newcomer) as Alex McHugh, the daughter of NSA Agent John Casey and eventual girlfriend to Morgan Grimes.
The show has not only been a hit with critics and viewers, but it has also been the recipient of about a dozen award nominations, and from those nominations a handful of wins, including a 2009 Emmy win for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for Merritt Yohnka; a 2010 Teen Choice Award for Action Actor and Action Actress for both Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski and a 2010 IGN Award for Best Villain for Brandon Routh.
So, whether you are a long-time fan who has watched the show since the very beginning or perhaps you gave up on the show over the past few seasons, you owe it to yourself to check out the two-hour finale of Chuck this Friday at 8 and 9 PM and be a part of television history.
Artist Spotlight: This month’s spotlight is on artist Rebecca Hicks, who grew up in Brooklyn, New York where, as a child, she spent hours at her family’s kitchen table, drawing pictures of people on one side of her paper and writing stories about them on the other side. She would fill notebooks with original stories and sequels to her favorite books and movies.
But when she spoke about wanting to be a writer or artist when she grew up, she was told by the adults in her life that being creative was fine as a hobby, but not as a career. Later her family moved to a small town in Kentucky where Rebecca continued to write and draw for fun and received praise for her creative efforts; but she continued to be told that art was not an option for her adult life. Because of that, she decided to focus on journalism as it seemed like a “real job”; and since this was in the days before the internet she believed that “newspapers would live forever”.
As she got older, her focus turned to writing; but she still drew, just not as much as when she was young. She was the editor-in-chief at her high school newspaper, which involved her in writing and editing as well as graphic design, composition and typography. This then lead to her getting a part-time job at the local newspaper. By the time she was in college, she was working toward a career as a high school English or journalism teacher, but she didn’t completely abandon her creative life. She would read comic books, took a creative writing class and, of course, she still drew; she just kept the creative side of herself quiet in order to pursue a “real” job.
Eventually she married her husband, James, and they moved to San Diego where she continued her college education, but she switched her focus to elementary education; spending her spare time reading comic books and using her skills from her newspaper days to create a newsletter for a Catwoman Fan Club for which she started. This fan club allowed her to meet creative professionals, people who had careers being creative; but she continued on her work to become a 5th and 6th grade teacher.
Her creative side continued to nudge her so when a friend wrote and published his own comic book while still working a “real” job, she decided to take her hobby one step further while still teaching. She and James exhibited some of her “doodles” at conventions that took place when school was out of session; and while sales weren’t high enough to justify exhibiting, she did receive a lot of positive attention.
Then, thanks to a random comment made by her husband while he was testing his blood sugar – that his fingers looked like they had been “nibbled on by little vampires” – an image came to her mind and she began to draw and create a world where these “little vampires” could live. Soon enough she and her husband got a small press table at the San Diego Comic Con where they were going to sell her comic book, but she decided to give the Little Vampires a chance; she wrote and illustrated their story and James taught himself bookbinding, making 50 hand-bound books, which nearly sold out.
She continued to teach and exhibit at conventions during school breaks and they had the Little Vampires book printed and started making merchandise. She then began to work on a sequel and created different types of art prints. This was the first time in her life that she began to see what she was doing as something more than a hobby; and thanks to encouragement from her husband, she decided to leave teaching and become a full-time freelance writer and artist.
Rebecca specializes in pencil and ink illustrations and cartooning; she colors digitally, but uses Copic markers for commissions and sketch cards. She has dabbled in acrylic painting and she loves paper craft like decoupage. She says that her love of writing and art is something she believes she was born with, what she creates is inspired by her interests that include mythology and folklore, Shakespeare, Tolkien, Lewis, Star Wars, Victorian literature, Abbot and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, The Beatles, comic books, Charles Schulz, Charles Addams, Edward Gorey and The Muppets.
You can learn more about Rebecca Hick’s artwork here and if you would like to contact Rebecca, you can email her at email@example.com.