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What if ‘Chuck’ became ‘Sarah’?

NUP_136531_0004 I’ve never bought a Subway sandwich just to keep “Chuck” on the air, but I’m a big fan of the show — to the extent I can’t go to sleep if there’s a fresh episode on my DVR. If it’s there, I want to see it right away.

So even though Monday’s midseason climax had in a sense been spoiled for me — that Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) would finally get together had become the worst-kept secret on network television — I was eager to get my eyes on it, and I enjoyed it. Chuck and Sarah don’t quite qualify as Sam and Diane, Kevin and Winnie or Jim and Pam for me, but they are a great couple. And I’m someone who believes that you can’t keep apart two TV characters who obviously belong together. I’m much more interested in seeing what fun and hurdles await them as a couple than seeing any more impediments to becoming one. (Couplehood stories, contrary to popular belief, are very much worth telling — they just need to be told correctly.)

But the reason for this post is not, “Hey, Chuck and Sarah are finally together!” It was a different sort of revelation I had.

To me, “Chuck” is not really Chuck’s show anymore.  It’s Sarah’s.

For all his strengths as a character (and all Levi’s strengths as a performer), Chuck has become someone I feel I know inside and out — and I say that to the credit of exec producers Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak. We know Chuck’s backstory, we know how he relates to people, we know how he responds to challenges. That’s not to say he’ll stop being interesting, but there just isn’t as much mystery with him as there used to be. When he went into serious mode and declared his feelings for Sarah (yet again, I’m tempted to say), I felt like I knew his speech even before he said it.

In contrast, as I watched Sarah wrestle with all her demons in Monday’s episode — her conflicted feelings about her relationships and her work, about killing or being killed — it just hit me that hers is the character that has the most intrigue, that is the most exciting. And that’s before you even get further into the unknown parts of her past. (For that matter, the rest of the supporting cast, led by Adam Baldwin’s Casey, has become so much fun that I’m eager to see any stories that feature them. Baldwin is gold pretty much every moment he’s onscreen.)

I’m not expecting the “Chuck” showrunners to steer the series away from its title character as it moves forward (hopefully into a fourth season in 2010-11) — although I could imagine worse ideas than implicitly changing the show’s name to “Sarah.” I’m just saying that now that has Chuck has grown up, in life and in love, he’s not the engine that’s driving my love of the show. Sarah is. And now that Chuck and Sarah are together, it’s a perfect time to press the gas pedal on her story.

(For an interview with Strahovski, check out Maureen Ryan’s “The Watcher” blog at the Chicago Tribune.)

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