Unpacking Chuck 2.0: New Book Offers a Deeper Dive into the Beloved TV Show

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By: Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)

Despite being off the air for over three years, Chuck is a show that gets new fans every day because of Netflix. One such fan is G. Walter Bush. He became intrigued as his son binge-watched the show over Christmas break a couple of years ago and became engrossed in the storytelling through not only the dialogue, but the visuals and metaphors as well. That’s how his first book, Unpacking Chuck, came to be.

He was inspired by the themes presented on the show and just how much detail mattered, reminding him of the same process he explored in his UC Irvine Master’s thesis analyzing Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. But when he went to research Chuck further, he found no books on the subject.

“When I began searching for a book online to confirm or deny my thoughts and ideas, I discovered – as hard as it was to believe – there were no books on the show, just blogs that primarily dealt with subjective views,” Bush said in an email.

He said the lack of a book combined with his academic and professional training and desire to challenge himself personally were what drove him to write the first one. It went on to be read in over 20 countries and would reach number one in the Amazon Kindle “TV: Guides and Reviews” category and crack the top five in the same generic category. This got him thinking about a follow-up, especially since the first primarily covered the main characters.

Eleven months after the debut of the first book, Bush is releasing Unpacking Chuck 2.0: The Conversation Continues.

“The 2.0 focuses on the supporting cast, though a few chapters do deal with key episodes/arcs pertaining to Chuck and Sarah omitted from the first book,” he said. “The focus this time around, character-wise, largely shifts to auxiliary characters and the two main villains.”

The opening chapters focus on The Intersect while others examine cues to reading the show’s audio-visual text, specifically hand and stage props as well as recurring patterns in the cinematography. Entire chapters are also devoted to Big Mike, Jeff, Lester, Beckman, Devon, and Volkoff, with an additional chapter on Jeffster and another two on Shaw. A discussion on a potential plan for a possible future Chuck movie closes out the book.

“It ends with my first commentary chapter: how any Chuck movie can complete the five-season text that ends with a few pieces missing,” he said.

Through his research, Bush said Chuck still found ways to surprise him.

“After writing the first book, I thought I had covered the vast majority of the ‘meaningful’ and literary content.  However, as I began to research each auxiliary character, I was genuinely surprised that much of the same texturing found in the central characters, including use of props and cinematography, also applied to the others as well,” he said.  “I had missed it, partly because I hadn’t really been looking.  Though I started the second book thinking it might be difficult to reach the depth of the first one, I soon began to see that content would not be a problem: there was plenty there to expose.”

Not surprisingly, Bush is happy with how Unpacking Chuck 2.0 turned out.

“I think the 2.0 is every bit as good as the first book, and in some ways may even be better. This time around I had a clearer focus on the content I would be covering from the start, even before the research began, let alone the writing,” he said.

Bush hopes Chuck will continue to resonate with fans and cites a few reasons as to why it’s still appealing long after it’s gone off the air.

“Number one: It’s a show that can be enjoyed on a variety of levels.  My at-the-time middle school son loved it because of the action and humor.   For a spy comedy, it also reveals impressive dramatic depth in the relationships and the visual text.  And the integration of music adds both energy and emotion.  It’s a textured show that smoothly captivates a wide range of interests,” he said. “Number two: I think viewers pick up on the chemistry that seemingly still exists between cast members. They genuinely liked each other on and off camera, giving the cast a family feel, and it leaves viewers feeling good. Number three: Many fought to keep the show on the air year after year, so they had skin in the game, so to speak. They are reminded of their empowerment.”

Unpacking Chuck 2.0: The Conversation Continues is now available for purchase on Kindle and in softcover on Amazon.


    One Comment

  1. Gavain McDonaldJune 3rd, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    I never watched the show when it was on TV, and that is tragic. At the time, I was aware of the show, but unaware of what it was or what it was about. Had the promotional campaigns for the show been better, I would have become an instant fan.

    As it stands, I discovered the show last year on Netflix and instantly fell in love with it. I don’t watch a lot of network TV, or primetime TV of any kind for that matter, and I’m highly selective of how I do spend that viewing time. When Chuck started, I was fully engaged in BSG, and it remains one of my favorite shows today. For some reason, I was never moved to even give Chuck a try … so I missed it. Since it debuted on Netflix last year, I’ve watched the entire series three times.

    Every time I watch it I find something new that I either missed or forgot. The relationships in the show are what anchor the show. The growth of the characters through the series and their individual and collective evolution are expertly executed. The chemistry between the cast members is incredible. There have been lots of on screen couples over the years and lots of “will they – won’t they” plot lines … but the Chuck and Sarah one is at the absolute peak of the pack. Zach and Yvonne work so well together on screen it’s not to think they were in love in real life … they just had such an amazing chemistry on screen.

    I hope a movie comes to fruition … but to be honest, I prefer the serialized format of episodic TV shows to movies. You just don’t get the character development in film that you do in TV. TV is just more longitudinal. However, if a concept is able to come together for a film, I totally there for it. I think, if I had my preference, Chuck would come back to TV for a mini-series extension much like Heroes or 24. It would be a shame not to revisit these great characters and this incredible cast.

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