Is Chuck (played by Zachary Levi) on the road to finding some long-missing motherly love from the mysteriously MIA Mary Elizabeth Bartowski (‘Terminator’s Linda Hamilton)? Or is our favorite secret agent being lured into some sort of parent trap? How will Chuck’s quest impact his romance with Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), and which of his buds will be along for the wild (and surprisingly expensive!) ride?
With NBC’s ‘Chuck’ set to unleash its fourth season this Monday at 8/7c, series cocreator Chris Fedak gave Fancast a peek at his mission plan.
So, for how many seasons have you wanted to play the Mom card?
When we started working on the show we knew we’d want to get to the mom and dad at some point, and the dad opportunity really jumped up at us in Season 2. ['Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula played the patriarch.] We then put mom in our back pocket, because we had so much story on the Orion side. Then the [Season 3] finale seemed like a good place to launch her story. We like our finales to not just be an epilogue but also a prologue for the next season.
Will Chuck have some concrete intel to work off of, to find her?
Chuck has very explicit information that he’s found in his dad’s cave [beneath the family home], from his father’s own search. But Mom is a mystery figure with a past of her own, tied to the espionage world. She’s a ghost in a way, and Chuck must chase after her.
Does he share his quest with Ellie right away?
Being a spy show, no one shares anything right away!
In his season-ending voiceover, Steven Bartowski suggested that it was Chuck’s destiny to become a spy. Is there going to be some retcon storytelling about how he came to be the intersect, or was that pure coincidence?
I think it was a bit of a coincidence. I don’t think Stephen J. Bartowski wanted his son to be a spy, but by hook or by crook he became one – kind of like how the Godfather didn’t choose Michael to run the family, and yet he was perfectly fit to do that. [Pauses] I like how I just compared ‘Chuck’ to an Academy Award-winning film. But the notion of what Steven said is what we explore this year: “Am I the person my father thought I was?”
Is Casey (Adam Baldwin) back doing what he does best, will he help Chuck with his search, or a bit of both?
I’ll say this – our first episode is all about how that search affects our team. We have a lot of fun with who’s involved and who isn’t. But yes, Casey is back to doing what he does best – and getting into trouble at the Buy More, too. One of the things we realized last season is that Morgan and Casey were a great comedy team, not just in the spy world but also at the Buy More.
Is Morgan still the overeager puppy dog nipping at the superspies’ heels?
He is definitely an overeager puppy dog, and Josh Gomez is just wonderful as Morgan. Once we realized he would be super-stoked about being a spy, it gave us another great opportunity for a regular person to get a perspective on that world.
The rebuilt Buy More is now run by the CIA, and there will be an agent named “Greta” played by alternating female and male actors throughout the season. What was your inspiration for that?
The inspiration was we had a character in our first episode named Greta and we were looking at Olivia Munn (‘Attack Of The Show’) for the part. Fortunately for Olivia, she has another show at NBC [the midseason comedy 'Perfect Couples'], so we knew we’d only have her for one episode. We went ahead and put her in the show and realized, “What if we bring in a new guest star each week to play Greta?” So the next week we have Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice guy. When he came on board he looked at his nametag and said, “Um, my character’s name is Greta.” I had to explain to him [the situation]. We also have Stacy Keibler (‘Dancing With The Stars’) playing a Greta, and we’re trying to cast another one for the episode we’re shooting in a few weeks.
But the original Buy More guys are still coming back, right?
Yes, Episode 2 will focus in on how Jeff and Lester (played by Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay) are brought back into the store, and by Episode 3 we’ll have Mark Christopher Lawrence returning (as Big Mike). The fun of this season is getting the band back together – and here we have a literal one, with Jeffster.
Where stands the Chuck/Sarah romance? Will it be obstacle-free for a while?
The Sarah/Chuck romance is the heart of the show, and for us it’s obstacle-free in that we’re not doing the ‘Will they/Won’t they” thing. They’re in a good relationship, they’re together. But in every relationship there are going to be issues, and the issue for Chuck is, “My girlfriends’ a spy and I don’t have a job anymore. How do I find a new gig?” There’s always an interpersonal story playing out.
I give you props for putting your couple together, whereas other shows forever prolong the wait. You went ahead and did it and look, the universe didn’t implode.
You’re always paranoid about putting the “Will they/Won’t they” people together, but we have a couple things going for us. One, Yvonne and Zach are such fantastic comic actors, so they’re just as good as a couple as they are pining for each other. The other thing is that for the story to keep going and to evolve the show, we needed to put them in a relationship. We’re not conservative about how we tell the stories, and we probably tell them more quickly than another show will.
What can you say about Chuck’s mom – is she good, bad, bad wanting to be good…?
Ohhh, I do apologize but I don’t want to give anything away about the Mom side of the story. You will see her in Episode 1, and it will be shocking.
But there must be a compelling reason why she’s been in hiding all this time.
There are many compelling reasons. Even though Chuck is an action-comedy, we have an intense mythology. So we’re going to figure out what happened to Mary Elizabeth Bartowski and why she had to leave her family. We have Linda Hamilton playing the part and she’s just wonderful. It’s exciting to see some of that Sarah Connor energy enter into our show!