My experience with the “Mass Effect 3” Demo (Minor Spoiler Warning!)

For the last week, I’ve taken a break from my last playthrough of Mass Effect 2 to put the singleplayer & multiplayer Mass Effect 3 Demo through its paces & get a feel for how the gameplay will be different before the full game is released on March 6th. I actually got to start a few days early thanks to a code giveaway on AchievementHunter.com, so that was a cool treat! ๐Ÿ™‚

After re-creating my MaleShep* character from ME1 & ME2 (thanks to a helpful suggestion on Twitter from Bioware’s Casey Hudson), I dove into the singleplayer portion of the demo on my chosen class of Soldier (I tried the Infiltrator & Adept classes for a bit as well, but the Soldier just feels best to me). The 1st part of the singleplayer demo puts Commander Shepard on Earth, having been relieved of duty following the events of Mass Effect 2. The Systems Alliance brass calls Shepard to meet with them and offer advice on how to deal with the imminent arrival of the Reapers, but before Shepard can finish giving a warning, the Reapers arrive, laying waste to Earth.

You then follow Anderson through the wreckage of Alliance HQ to rendezvous with the Normandy, fighting Husks & Cannibals (“huskified” Batarians with a nasty ranged attack) along the way. This portion of the demo is meant to get you acquainted with the basic movement & combat mechanics of the game, and it does an excellent job of that. There’s also a very poignant bit of storytelling, as Shepard briefly interacts with a young boy who sadly does not escape the Reaper attack alive (his escape shuttle is blown out of the sky by a Reaper just as the Normandy is about to fly away).

The second part of the singleplayer demo takes you to the Salarian homeworld of Sur’Kesh, where you and two of your teammates will escort a fertile Krogan female to safety as part of a plan to broker peace between the Krogan and Turians. No sooner do you arrive, however, than Cerberus shock troops arrive to prevent the rescue operation for reasons unknown. This portion of the demo allows you to get a greater feel for commanding teammates in combat & utilizing their powers, and also for using a wider range of weapons (you have access to a shotgun and sub-machine gun, as well as a pistol and assault rifle). The demo concludes with a tough but satisfying fight against a very heavily armed Cerberus Atlas mech.

In terms of movement, I wasn’t quite ready for how much more agile Shepard has become in Mass Effect 3, but I adjusted quickly. Combat is definitely fresher & more challenging than in either of the previous games in the series, not only in terms of battlefield environments (which feel much more natural than in Mass Effect or Mass Effect 2), but also in terms of enemy AI (which seems smarter and much more aggressive). I played through the singleplayer demo on Hardcore difficulty, and it honestly felt more challenging than what I’ve seen so far of Insanity difficulty in Mass Effect 2!

As for the Kinect voice command support for the game, I have mixed feelings. It’s very cool to be able to issue voice commands to squadmates & speak dialogue wheel choices out loud, I didn’t have to speak very loudly, and the game made no mistakes in terms of interpreting what I said. However, there is a very slight delay between voicing a command and the game’s response to it, which made the timing a bit tricky for me. As such, while the Kinect functionality is definitely impressive (kudos to both Microsoft and Bioware), I prefer the traditional power wheel controls, and that’s what I’ll be using when I play the full game.

I haven’t done much with the multiplayer part of the Mass Effect 3 demo, but I played it enough to get a feel for how it would work, and I enjoyed it a lot! The combat is very fast-paced & satisfying, and I really like how you unlock new classes, weapons, and equipment as you progress through multiplayer matches. I’m sure it’d be more fun when playing with people you know as opposed to being thrown into a match with three strangers, but that’s true of any multiplayer game. I look forward to trying it more when the full game is released!

All in all, this brief taste of Mass Effect 3 has been a lot of fun, and it has certainly whetted my appetite for the main course heading our way on March 6th!

Take Earth Back!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

*Yes, I also went through a few times as FemShep. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Why I don’t want to push for a “Chuck” movie…Yet.

Over the last few days, I’ve seen a lot of talk among some Chuck fans about pushing for a movie to continue the show’s story, and perhaps bring about a more traditional “storybook” ending for Chuck and Sarah. As anyone who knows me online or in person can attest, I’m a huge fan of Chuck, and I’d love to see the story continue in some fashion further down the road. However, I think it’s premature to push for a Chuck movie at this point, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the cast, crew, show runners, and writers of Chuck have worked extremely hard these past few years to bring us an entertaining story, and they’ve been more approachable and accommodating to fans than virtually any other TV or movie cast/crew/production team I know of. If any group of people have earned the right to move on to new projects and/or rest on their laurels as they see fit, it’s them.

Second, many of us within the fan community could stand to have a bit more time to come to grips with the ending of the show, and gain the perspective that time and distance provides. Plus, the Chuck cast have plenty of new projects coming down the pike, and we should all be eager to see what they’ll be up to next!

Third, we should look at this from the business and financial perspective. Any movie project, whether it’s an online-only movie like Zac Levi has suggested, a straight-to-DVD release, or a full-fledged major motion picture release in traditional theaters, will need financial backers. The fact of the matter is, no investor will want to spend money on a film project unless they can be reasonably sure that they will at least recoup their investment, and ideally turn a healthy profit.

So, how could investors be persuaded that a Chuck movie project would be a sound investment? Well, the best way to approach that problem is to demonstrate as large a potential audience for said movie project as possible. To that end, there are a few things we as Chuck fans can do.

We as fans can carry out our own personal efforts to attract new fans. Yep, we can go right back to the tried & true grassroots approach of having friends and family over for Chuck viewing parties, sharing DVDs with others, donating DVD copies to our local public libraries, and giving people DVD copies and/or iTunes downloads as gifts. This is slow going, but it’s as good a place to start as any. And as @GrayJones has mentioned on Twitter, DVD/Blu-Ray sales will be a key influence for the next part of drawing in new fans: Syndication. In addition to drawing in new fans and thus bolstering the ranks of a potential movie audience, syndication benefits the cast and production team by allowing them to earn money in the form of residuals. Syndication could be a very good thing for Chuck in a number of ways, but I can’t stress this enough: syndication chances are improved the more that DVD & Blu-Ray sales are increased, and that’s where our initial focus should be. Encouraging new fans to download Chuck on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Zune.net/XBox Live Zune Marketplace could help syndication efforts as well.

One thing I’ve given a lot of thought to–and I’d like to hear input from other Chuck fans on this–is what network would be in the best position to attract the largest number of new fans. I initially considered networks like SyFy and G4, which are part of the NBC Universal family and which hit Chuck‘s target audience dead-on, but then I figured that they wouldn’t have as large a potential overall audience as other networks might (especially since not everyone gets SyFy and G4, depending on their level of cable/satellite service).

This lead me to consider USA Network and (as was suggested by @EmilyDembosky), TNT. Neither network has a very strong focus on Chuck‘s target audience, but I think either network would have the potential to draw in a very large amount of new viewers for the show. USA Network certainly runs a lot of NCIS and Law & Order: SVU marathons, so it seems to me like they could easily free up a few time slots here and there to run Chuck five days a week! ๐Ÿ™‚ (It doesn’t hurt that USA Network is also part of the NBC/Universal family, either.)

Well, those are my thoughts on the matter of syndication for Chuck, and a Chuck movie. If anyone has any ideas to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section! ๐Ÿ™‚

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My trip to the NYC “Chuck” Finale Party, and my thoughts on the ending of “Chuck”

“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”
–2 Timothy 4:7 (New American Bible)

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
–Source uncertain; attributed to Dr. Seuss

The weather during my drive home yesterday from New Jersey provided a perfect reflection of my emotions now that Chuck‘s television run is over. The day was largely dominated by gloomy clouds and rain, but at the end, the sun pierced through to light my way home.

I know we’re all very sad that our favorite show’s run is over, but before we allow ourselves to become mired in that sadness, we should all remember something. Chuck has lasted longer than many people believed it would, and it now has the opportunity to live on in syndication and gain new waves of fans for years to come. We should also remember the reason why this is possible: Us. We the fans have fought hard for Chuck, and we should all be proud of everything we’ve accomplished in our efforts to support this show.

For a long time, I wondered if I’d ever have an opportunity to meet some of the fans I’ve spoken to on Twitter face to face, and I was very grateful to have that chance with the NYC Chuck Finale Party at the NBC Store, organized by Wendy Farrington (@SerendipityWAF on Twitter). I can’t thank Wendy enough for organizing this party, and for being so patient with me as I nailed down my arrangements for where I’d be staying in the city.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go, since I didn’t know how I’d be able to afford a place to stay. Thankfully, one of my newest friends through Twitter and Chuck, Emily Dembosky (@EmilyDembosky on Twitter), contacted me and told me about the Times Square Dream Hostel, which was only a few blocks away from Times Square, and which cost a mere $45 per night! As the time for the trip came closer, Emily offered to meet me in Jersey City to help me get my car parked and to help guide me into the city. When the day finally came, I got a bit lost on the way to Jersey City and Emily and her friend Sean, who also came to the Finale Party, gave me guidance over the phone so that I could find my way into the PATH parking garage at Journal Square. Long story short, this trip wouldn’t have been possible for me without Emily and Sean’s help.

Once Emily, Sean and I made it to the NBC Store for the viewing party, we picked up some Chuck merchandise which the NBC Store generously gave everyone at the party a 30% discount on (I got a Nerd Herd hat, a Nerd Herd lanyard for ID badges, and a JEFFSTER shot glass). Oddly enough, seeing all the Chuck merchandise on display was the first thing that really made it hit home that the show was ending…not sure why.

After the phenomenal Chuck Series Finale was over, we all got another treat: Wendy had set up her laptop so that Zac Levi could contact us live via Skype to thank us all for supporting the show!

After Zac’s Skype chat, Wendy led a group of fans who were over 21 years old to a nearby karaoke club to cheer ourselves up with some singing (as you might expect, two of our first selections were “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” and “Fat Bottomed Girls”):

All in all, this was a truly awesome trip, and an experience I’ll never forget. I will always be very grateful that I got to meet so many fellow Chuck fans in person and give our favorite show the sendoff that it richly deserves. God willing, I’ll see all of you again (and meet more of you) at NERD HQ and Comic-Con later this year! ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, I’d like to share my thoughts on the Finale’s ending. I’ve seen a wide range of opinions over the last two days about the fact that we didn’t actually get to see Sarah regain all of her memories of her relationship with Chuck. Many people strongly dislike it, some are undecided, and many are generally quite satisfied with the ending and feel that it has a hopeful quality to it. For my part, I fall into the third category.

Yes, it is true that we didn’t get to actually witness Sarah regain all of her memories of her time with Chuck and all they mean to each other. However, the fact that she was beginning to regain small fragments of memories (making the carving in the dream house, the Wienerlicious, the Irene Demova virus, going to the beach where they first met), coupled with the fact that she asked Chuck to tell her stories of their life together, and that she asked Chuck to kiss her, all make it quite clear to me that she wants to remember everything. And that makes all the difference in the world. Furthermore, this provides Chuck and Sarah with an opportunity to rebuild their relationship and fall in love all over again, but this time without having to deal with any of the previous challenges and obstacles to their relationship (ex: disapproval from Casey and General Beckman, the breakup period after the train platform in Prague, rival love interests, Sarah’s fears of Ryker discovering the whereabouts of her mother and adopted sister, etc).

So, while it is true that there will be no new episodes of Chuck, we should all be comforted by the knowledge that the fun will never truly be over. We can continually re-watch the DVDs and introduce the show to new fans, and we can enjoy seeing Chuck enter syndication, providing a means for new fans to discover the show and providing the cast with a well-deserved source of income in the form of residuals.

There’s no doubt that things could have (and should have) gone better for Chuck. However, I can honestly say that I have no regrets as the show ends. I am, and will always be, happy with the way the story has been told. This has been an awesome ride as a fan, and will continue to be for many years to come.

I know that there’s no chance that Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak, Robert Duncan McNeill, any of the crew or writers, or anyone in the Chuck cast will ever read this, but if they could, I’d want to address the following message to them:

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all so very much for everything you’ve done, and all the hard work you’ve put in these last five seasons. The story you have told with Chuck–the timeless story of the “chosen hero” who comes from a humble background–has touched me and other fans more than you’ll ever know. For my part, you have renewed my faith in how much power there is in storytelling, and how meaningful it can be. You’ve made us laugh and cry, yes, but you’ve also made us think. And the idea that anyone–no matter how seemingly humble their beginnings–can become greater than the sum of their parts when the need and opportunity arises is a powerful idea indeed.

I know I speak for all Chuck fans when I say that we will be happy and proud to continue following your careers, and to support any and all new projects that are sure to come your way in the future. And looking ahead at whatever possibility may conceivably exist to continue Chuck‘s story in some form or another months or years from now, I also know that I speak for Chuck fans everywhere when I paraphrase one of Bonita’s lines from the finale:

“If you ever want to ‘save the world’ again…you know where [we are].”

Long Live “Team Bartowski!” Long Live Chuck!

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Why I am a “Chuck” fan: My thoughts as we head towards the Series Finale (Spoiler Alert!)

“Wherever [the tyrant] sets his hand there is a cry…for the redeeming hero, the carrier of the shining blade, whose blow, whose touch, whose existence, will liberate the land.”
–Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

“It was one of those great stories that you can’t put down at night:
The Hero knew what he had to do, and he wasn’t afraid to fight.
The Villain goes to jail, while the Hero goes free…
I wish it were that simple for me.

“And the reason that she loved him
Was the reason I loved him too:
He never wondered what was right or wrong,
He just knew…He just knew.”
–David Crosby, “Hero”

About a month ago, in a blog post commenting on Daniel Shaw’s return to Chuck, I gave a description of how I first discovered the show and became a Chuck fan. As we move toward January 27th and the bittersweet occasion of the Chuck Series Finale, I’d like to talk about why I became hooked on the show as soon as I started watching it.

First, I have a confession to make. When I heard about Chuck at the time of the Series Premiere in 2007, I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t think much of the premise. At the time, the idea of a computer nerd becoming a spy & falling in with a gorgeous CIA “cover girlfriend” sounded a little too outlandish to me, and while I thought it could work as a one-shot romantic-action-comedy movie, I doubted that Chuck would last very long as a TV series. I had also long since fallen out of the habit of watching any TV shows on a regular basis apart from the evening news. (I also just remembered that I couldn’t have watched the Chuck Pilot when it first aired, anyway; I was working until 11PM that night, and I remember it because I then waited in line for the midnight launch of Halo 3 on September 25th).

So, what made me rapidly change my tune once I gave Chuck a chance in February 2010? As I progressed through Season 1, I realized that Chuck‘s story was much richer and deeper than I had imagined; in particular, Chuck flashing on his own Stanford ID badge in “vs. the Alma Mater” drove home the point that something very big was at work. Furthermore, it wasn’t long before I realized that Chuck was a clever re-telling of a very, very old story…in fact, one of the oldest stories there is. I became a loyal Chuck fan because I believe that, whether Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak meant it to be or not, Chuck is an excellent example of a story that follows Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” or “monomyth” framework, as outlined in his classic book The Hero With A Thousand Faces.

Chuck may not perfectly adhere to every single step of the “hero’s journey” cycle, but it is easy to see how the various archetypes Campbell discussed are embodied in the show. We can see the “call to adventure” throughout Season 1, as Chuck takes his first reluctant steps into his role as an intelligence asset, with his “supernatural aid” coming in the form of the Intersect and the information it provided. Chuck’s “refusal of the [hero’s] call” is demonstrated throughout Season 2, as he begins to actively resist becoming a full-fledged spy, and does anything and everything he can to free himself from the path his life has taken.

We see the “goddess” archetype represented on Chuck in both positive and negative ways. Ellie serves as a nurturing “mother” figure to Chuck, though she also takes on the role of a “mother who would hold to herself the growing child trying to push away” (Hero With A Thousand Faces, pg. 92) as she resists Chuck’s role as a spy at the end of Season 3 and through much of Season 4. Chuck & Ellie’s mother Mary embodies the “absent…mother, against whom aggressive fantasies are directed, and from whom a counter-aggression is feared” (Hero With A Thousand Faces, pg. 92), though in the end Mary proves that everything she has done has been for the sake of her family’s safety. And of course, the most prominent representation of the “goddess” archetype lies in the character of none other than Sarah Walker herself, who initially serves as Chuck’s protector and mentor, and who eventually becomes his lover and his wife. The archetype of “woman as the temptress” is notably embodied by Jill Roberts, but it could also be argued that at one point, Sarah herself fulfills the same archetype when she tries to persuade Chuck to run away with her, thus abandoning his “hero’s path” of becoming a spy.

Another key point in the “hero’s journey” cycle is “atonement with the father,” or the hero’s coming to terms with his father figure, male mentor, or god. In Chuck, the most obvious examples of this are near the ends of Seasons 2 and 3, when Chuck makes amends with his estranged father and fellow spy Stephen. However, we can also see an example in Chuck’s reconciliation with Bryce Larkin at the end of Season 2, when Bryce reveals that he sent Chuck the Intersect on Stephen’s orders, in order to protect both it and Chuck. Even Chuck’s professional relationship and friendship with Casey reflects this aspect of the “hero’s journey,” with Casey slowly developing a great deal of respect for Chuck and his abilities.

One of the greatest examples of Chuck‘s adherence to the “hero’s journey” framework lies in the final scene of the Season 2 finale. After resisting his life’s new path for two years, and doing everything he could to rid himself of the Intersect so he could have a normal life again, Chuck realizes that all of his efforts and adventures have proven that he is indeed a hero, and that it is his destiny to become a spy. Chuck then embraces this destiny, and willingly uploads the Intersect 2.0, which allows him to easily defeat several Ring agents in hand-to-hand combat several moments later. This moment of the “hero’s journey” is known as the hero’s “apotheosis,” or his elevation from the status of a man to that of a god. In Chuck’s case, this “godhood” is of course not literal, nor is it a veiled reference to the awesome combat skills granted by the Intersect 2.0. Rather, it represents the fact that where Chuck was once helpless against danger and against outside influences on his life, he is now in command of his own destiny, thanks to his new-found confidence and realization that he has the potential to be greater than what he was before. This confidence and faith in one’s own potential is “the ultimate boon” in the “hero’s journey” story of Chuck, and is ultimately at the core of what the show is all about.

Simply gaining this “boon” for oneself is not enough, however. The hero must then return to the place he came from and share his gift for the betterment and enlightenment of everyone (Hero With A Thousand Faces, pg. 167). On Chuck, this kind of change can be seen throughout the course of the series, as positive changes take effect on many of the people around Chuck. It allows Morgan to change from an immature “man-child” to a more confident and enthusiastic (if not always competent) member of the spy team. Ellie and Devon are inspired to step outside their comfort zones and help more directly with Team Bartowski’s operations over time, particularly in this last season. Even Jeff and Lester unknowingly helped Chuck track Daniel Shaw in “Chuck vs. the American Hero,” and they eventually step up to the plate to knowingly and willingly help Casey defeat two of Nicholas Quinn’s agents in “Chuck vs. the Bullet Train!” Of course, the greatest examples of positive change on Chuck can be seen in Casey and Sarah. In the Pilot, Casey was a remorseless killer who would have left Chuck and Sarah’s bodies on a skyscraper while he went out for pancakes. Now, he’s a caring man who cultivates a loving relationship with his long-lost daughter, and who will go out of his way to help his friends. Sarah began this journey as an emotionally detached “lone wolf” who refused to let anyone get too close to her, for fear of compromising her mission or getting herself hurt emotionally. Now, she is a warm, happy, loving woman who is excited at the prospect of retiring from being a spy and of starting a family with Chuck…or at least, she was until the events at the end of “Chuck vs. the Bullet Train,” when Nicholas Quinn took advantage of the flawed Intersect program Sarah had uploaded so he could erase her memory, thus tricking her into stealing a fully functional Intersect and killing Chuck in the process.

This is what it now comes down to. Before Chuck and Sarah can finally enjoy the happy life together that they both deserve, Chuck must find a way to defeat Nicholas Quinn, and restore Sarah’s memories of who she is and what they’ve had together. In “Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger,” Chuck had to struggle to save Sarah’s life. Now, Chuck struggles to save things that are just as precious: Sarah’s mind, and their future together. One way or another, I have faith that this will turn out as it should.

Two more episodes to go, Chuck fans. We’ve come this far; let’s see this thing through to the end! To quote Shakespeare’s Henry V, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!”

LONG LIVE TEAM BARTOWSKI! LONG LIVE CHUCK!

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An E-mail I sent to the Entertainment Software Association regarding their support of the Stop Online Piracy Act

Like many people, I was disgusted to find out that the Entertainment Software Association supports the current form of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which was protested yesterday in an unprecedented way with the Internet blackout protests and by the efforts of people calling their Congressional Representatives and Senators. I decided to express my displeasure in an E-mail to the ESA; I present it now without further comment.

“To Whom It May Concern,

I wanted to write an E-mail to express my anger and disgust over your support of the Stop Online Piracy Act in its current form–a form which would have little effect on piracy and leave legitimate website operators liable for piracy links posted by individual users–especially in light of the extent to which gamers around the world responded to your requests for help in the Schwartzenegger/Brown vs. EMA/ESA Supreme Court case.

However, this YouTube video posted by Andrew Eisen expresses my feelings far better than any words I type could: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7aJ59U0Dmg

You are stabbing law-abiding gamers and Internet users in the back after we helped you, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Sincerely,
Matthew Gill”

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My thoughts on Bob Greenblatt’s comments about “Chuck” fans at the TCA press conference, and my response to him

โ€œIt is not the critic who counts; nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantlyโ€ฆwho knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.โ€
โ€“Theodore Roosevelt

I know that a lot of Chuck fans out there are upset and offended by Bob Greenblatt’s very rude and dismissive comments at a TCA press conference earlier today. Believe me, I am just as offended as you all are.

It’s not the fact that Mr. Greenblatt reemphasized that Chuck‘s run is over that offends me. We all knew that was the case going into this season, and we already had an “online wake” of sorts a month ago when filming on the series wrapped up, complete with a very moving video tribute put together by @dren_lla. What upsets me is that Mr. Greenblatt seems totally dismissive of everything we have all done over the last few years to support not only Chuck, but NBC as well.

With that in mind, I decided to send Mr. Greenblatt an E-mail (courtesy of the NBC Universal viewer feedback E-mail address found here) to respectfully and politely express my feelings to him. I’ll share that E-mail below so that you can read it as well, but before I do, let’s all commit right now that we’ll do everything we can these last few weeks to promote Chuck to the best of our ability, be it voting at www.rewardtv.com, continuing to make “Not A Nielsen Family” tweets to advertisers, or bringing new fans into the fold. We owe the cast, writers, crew and showrunners that much. In addition, if you decide to E-mail NBC or Mr. Greenblatt to make your own feelings known, please do so politely, respectfully, and calmly.

Long Live Team Bartowski! Long Live Chuck!

“Mr. Greenblatt,

My name is Matthew C. Gill. I’m writing to you today to express my extreme displeasure with the rude, dismissive, and ungrateful attitude you showed towards “Chuck” fans at today’s TCA press conference.

It is absolutely true that “Chuck’s” ratings don’t merit the show continuing past this season; I don’t dispute that. I also want you to know that, as I expressed in a blog post I wrote near the end of last season, I am extremely grateful to you and to the rest of NBC’s executives for deciding to give “Chuck” and its fans a chance to end things on their own terms. However, I must say that your assertion that “Chuck” is getting such poor ratings because we as fans did not “come to the show” is simply not true.

For the last five years, millions of “Chuck” fans worldwide have poured our hearts and souls into supporting this show and your network.

We have spread the word about “Chuck” to anyone who will listen.

We have loyally patronized Subway, as well as many other companies who have sponsored “Chuck.”

We have petitioned “Chuck’s” advertisers through Twitter and other social media networks in order to thank them for supporting the show, as seen in the “Not a Nielsen Family” campaign.

Some of us have gone to great lengths to, whenever possible, make arrangements with our employers so that we can be off work to watch “Chuck” live as it airs.

Many people, in multiple countries, have spent a great deal of their own time and money supporting and spreading the word about “Chuck” through fan websites, podcasts, and YouTube videos.

Mr. Greenblatt, it is not our fault that many of us have not been fortunate enough to have been chosen to participate in the Nielsen television ratings system, and thus could not have our own choice of programming on Mondays (and now Fridays) counted.

It is not our fault that NBC has not done more in recent years to promote “Chuck.”

It is not our fault that “Chuck” has lost many of its original writing staff over the last few seasons because they had to seek other employment while waiting to hear if the show would return for another year.

It is not our fault that NBC has, for whatever reason, not made this current season’s episodes available to watch on NBC.com, Hulu.com, or any other legitimate streaming online site, thus making it harder for us to attract new fans to the current season of “Chuck” and potentially boost the ratings.

For these reasons, Mr. Greenblatt, I respectfully submit that you owe “Chuck” fans an apology for your statements.

We have been “coming to the show” and supporting “Chuck” for five seasons now, sir. Rest assured, we will be here to see this through to the end.

Sincerely and respectfully,
Matthew C. Gill”

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A quick “Chuck” post on the return of Daniel Shaw

“Yet give the devil his due; Says grace before he doth a deed of villainy.”
–Sir Walter Scott, Kenilworth, ch. 4

“Without darkness, there can be no light.”
–Lao Tzu

I just wanted to quickly throw in my two cents about the return of “Chuck’s most reviled enemy,” our old “favorite,” the one we love to hate, Agent Daniel Shaw.

I know I’m gonna get a lot of “What?? Are you crazy?” about this, but I for one am genuinely happy to see him return! As I discussed in this earlier blog post, I am one of the few who enjoyed the Shaw story arc from Season 3, though I will admit it could have been executed more smoothly, particularly where “vs. the Mask” is concerned (Sarah’s attitude towards Shaw changed too abruptly; it would’ve been better if it was more gradual, or if she hadn’t been so hostile to him to begin with, or both). I think, though, there’s another reason why I’m happy to see Shaw return, even if it is just for one episode, and even if it is–as so many Chuck fans are fervently hoping–just so he can serve as a bullet sponge courtesy of Chuck, Sarah, Casey, or all of the above.

In order to explain that reason, a bit of background is required. As I believe I’ve mentioned on Twitter a few times, I didn’t become a fan of Chuck until February 2010, during the Olympic hiatus. What brought me into the Chuck fan community was the video game Mass Effect 2, and finding out in a behind-the-scenes featurette for the game that Yvonne Strahovski and Adam Baldwin had done voice acting in it. I had been familiar with Adam already, having seen him in quite a few movies over the years, and of course in Firefly and Serenity, but I didn’t know offhand who Yvonne was before then.

Seeing them both in that Mass Effect 2 BTS video, however, jogged my memory of a very brief clip I had seen of them both in a past episode of Chuck (I realized later that it had been from the S1 episode “vs. the Crown Vic”). At that point, I decided, “Well, I’ve never really seen Chuck before, so I ought to give it a shot.” A while later, I got around to purchasing the Pilot episode on my XBox to download and watch. When I was done watching it, I asked myself, “Why in the name of God Almighty haven’t I been watching this show all along?!?” The rest, as they say, is history. ๐Ÿ™‚

I powered through Season 1 in about a week thanks to http://www.thewb.com, which at the time had all 13 Season 1 episodes available to watch, bought the Season 2 DVDs and watched them in about a week, and then watched Episodes 1-7 of Season 3 just in time to be caught up when the show came back after the end of the Olympics.

As a result of bringing myself up to speed with Chuck in so short a time, the character of Daniel Shaw has, in a sense, always been a part of the show for me. Getting to see him return in “vs. the Santa Suit” next week is a bit of a trip down memory lane for me, to the time when I first became not only a fan of this show, but for the first time, an active participant in a show’s fan community.

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