Everything From Russia With Love to Dr. Strangelove is parodied in the ingenious motion graphic title sequence to NBC’s new Monday series Chuck.
From Chris Fedak and the O.C. creator Josh Schwartz, computer geek Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) is the unwitting recipient of a secret government database downloaded into his brain. While maintaining his job at the Buy More Nerd Herd, analogous to Best Buy’s Geek Squad, he is protected by CIA Agent Sarah Walker (the stunning fellow Australian Yvonne Strahovski) and NSA agent John Casey played with sneering pleasure by Adam “Your jaw was sculpted by Michelangelo himself” Baldwin.
No surprise, the titles were designed by Imaginary Forces, who also conceived and executed the opening sequence for AMC’s series Mad Men (see Mad Men Design). The design captures the irreverent humor of the show, melding the Nerd Herd logo with titles reminiscent of the James Bond films. Rotating keys in the finale laptop scene, cleverly evokes an enigma and slot machine in equal parts while figuratively representing the spy imagery database locked in Chuck’s mind. The song is Short Skirt/Long Jacket from the band Cake.
Chuck is part of a creatively strong, entertaining Monday lineup for NBC that is floundering in the ratings. Last season’s breakout hit Heroes has dropped on average two full ratings points, luckily buoyed by a majority audience percentage in the ad-coveted 18-49 demographic. Chuck is another two full ratings points behind Heroes and Journeyman trails both series. The latter, comparable to Quantum Leap, adds the personal life and family dynamic for its time traveling protagonist (Rome’s Kevin McKidd) who always returns home. The live action title design is equally memorable and its vast newsroom set is unexpected for network television. When the protagonist travels back to the 70’s, the revised newsroom set particularly shines in the series standout episode, “The Legend of Dylan McCleen”. Were it not for the writer’s strike, NBC’s precarious position and their willingness to nurture shows, Journeyman and possibly even Chuck would probably already have been canceled.