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McG on Chuck

Published August 27, 2007 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of NBC.
Chuck Chuck

Few TV shows really do action on a regular basis. Of course there's Heroes and 24, but you need big guns to assure that consistent level of adrenaline. McG is the kind of guy who can ensure that. Directing and producing the new action comedy Chuck, he promises big action every week.

McG on Chuck


"A lot of times you see fall-off in quality from a pilot into just day-in, day-out, episodic, week-in, week-out," said McG. "We've got a really aggressive schedule regarding what we're doing with second unit to keep that action alive. I think people have come to expect cinematic television week-in, week-out. If you want to be competitive, people feel like they're getting honored as viewers. They really want that."

Of course, McG thanks some of his predecessors for bringing that quality to the small screen. "I think J.J [Abrams], he brought that energy. Lost certainly brings that energy. We want to make our contribution and if anything, we want to push it further and continue to do that. So I think we put a lot of energy into making sure the action is going to continue to grow."

Chuck leads into Heroes on NBC's Monday night schedule, and McG is confident it can keep up with the evening's entertainment. "We're all big fans of Heroes and obviously there's a lot of eyeballs that go into watching Heroes. I think it's guys like Chuck who like Heroes. So it seemed organic even though they're very different shows. It's just fun to bea part of a show that had a breakout year last year and looks to have a great second season."



Chuck is a computer geek who gets an e-mail full of government secrets that thrust him into the life of a spy. Fanboys like McG acknowledge their homage to Johnny Mnemnonic. "That's a seminal performance of Keanu Reeves, but I enjoyed that picture. For me I feel connected to that picture because the AD staff that worked on that picture I've worked with for a long time, and they would always tell stories about how difficult that shoot was, a lot of nights. So I remember the first thing I ever did, I'm working with this staff coming off that movie and just feeling like I was actually in Hollywood making a movie, and it felt pretty cool. It was a strong connection to Johnny Mnemonic."

Ultimately, Chuck is the everyman, just like Peter Parker or Neo. "I just love that story. That's what we connected on day one, was just the Peter Parker 'Hey, I'm just a high school photographer,' or Neo saying, 'I'm just a guy who hacks computers.' Chuck is saying, 'Look, I'm really not fit to do what you're asking me to do.' And I think there's a bit of a quarter-life crisis going on with kids that are 24, 25 years old and we live in this big-box culture that I don't know how many of us really believe that that's progress from the society perspective. I always thought it was a little bit of a subversive but elegant commentary on is this big-box culture really progress? Or is it a little bit ridiculous, and truth be told, they're just more guys out there that look and feel and act like Chuck than there are guys out there that look like Tom Brady and went to the Super Bowl for whoever. So it's just a way of connecting to a great many people and saying we understand and this is the voicing of the types people who are going to watch the show, and it's just an attempt to write and go with what you know and be honest."

Chuck premieres September 24th on NBC.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of NBC.
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