Meet the new Spinal Tap! They’re a rocking Indian and a white dude with a keytar who are becoming larger than life all because some guys started snickering in a writers’ room after way too much coffee and chocolate. Yes, I’m talking about Jeffster, made up by two dorks from the Buy More, Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay). They aren’t some copy cat act though. Instead of “Big Bottom,” they rock the house with the quintessential classic, “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Also… nope, that’s all I got.
At the Chuck panel and press conference at Comic-Con on Saturday the cast and producers of the show exhibited sheer delight in taunting and thrilling audiences with two main themes. First, they have no ideas for the upcoming third season, and second, they love their fans. So, why not play on both themes by breaking out the act that sent season two off with a bang? (Or at least generated enough smoke to trigger the indoor sprinklers.)
It all started with a quick recap of the brilliant season two, ending again with the hilarious tagline, “I know kung fu.” It’s one month later in Josh Schwartz’s (co-creator and executive producer) office. Cancellation is imminent, yet only Zachary Levi (Chuck) is worried. That worry switches to Chris Fedak (the other co-creator and executive producer) when the word comes that they’ve actually been renewed. Zack leaves in celebration, leaving Fedak to flip out over what to do now with the kung fu twist. While Fedak chants his mantra of “nothing” wearing a storm trooper helmet, Josh Schwartz comes up with a plan. He’s bringing in the big guns. Next thing we know, Jeffster takes the stage. Nothing like getting a crowd revved up with the best inside joke since those three fake blokes from England.
“Vik (Sahay) is so neurotic about it. He’s back stage jumping up and down trying to get into character,” said Mark Christopher Lawrence, who plays Big Mike. “Then when he gets out there he’s a totally different guy.”
All in all, Jeffster created a nice time-wasting diversion for panelists who were only there to take notes and show their appreciation to the fans for getting them a renewal. Whether they had ideas or not, they managed to play the gag well, as Chris Fedak wrote down stray ideas from fans during the entire session. Of all the suggestions, the musical episode idea got the best response.
Or is there a plan, and are these guys are very good at smoke and mirrors? There was evidence of both when talking with the panelists in the press room later. “I don’t know what’s happening in the third season,” said Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah). “None of us do. They don’t really tell us much.” Josh Schwartz didn’t have solid plans either. Even though they resume production in a few weeks, things are still up in the air. “Usually at this point we’ve got a couple of episodes in the can. We don’t exactly know when we’re coming back. We’re ready to go and serve anytime.”
This panel wasn’t about season three though. It was about the fans and this group couldn’t have been more grateful. Schwartz thanked all of the media that supported the show while Zachary Levi thanked Wendy Farrington, the fan who started the campaign to save Chuck. Wendy especially inspired the Subway “incident” at a con in Birmingham, England in May when Levi took a hundreds of fans to a nearby Subway in promotion of the show.
“If I can happen to be over in the UK at a comic convention with Baldwin and the girl that started the grass roots campaign is there,” explains Levi, “and they happen to have a Subway right around the corner, then I’d say, ‘Hey, I’d rather not do a panel now. Who wants to go have a sandwich?’ You look for opportunities and moments like that and I only have a job because they fill a hall and love us, they love the show.” Yvonne Strahovski certainly felt the love. “There was a lot of passion in that room today and it was pretty amazing.”
So what is it about the fans that draw them to this quirky, geek-slanting show? Adam Baldwin (Casey) had a theory. “One thing about Chuck to me is that it has a cross section of love, just normal folks. I’m happy the geeks love it, happy that my friends that are cool love it.”
Josh Gomez (Morgan) thinks the show’s geek theme certainly opened up opportunities for him. “I am short and not very good looking. So that usually results apparently in being a tech guy in Hollywood.”
So why are geeks and nerds in fashion now? “Because we’re real people,” explains Levi. “There are more nerds and geeks than there are body builders. It’s the new hero. And we’re awesome lovers. And we know how to fix a computer.”
Speaking of awesome lovers, when does Sarah get fitted for that Subway uniform? “I don’t think the Subway thing will be as major and prominent as feared,” said Schwartz. “I think it’ll be integrated in a similar way to how it has been. A blatant, shameless stunt.”
Okay, so how about the Chuck/Sarah relationship? Surely they must get together now that Bryce Larkin is out of the way. “Obviously there’s going to be a lot more complications in the Chuck and Sarah romance,” said Strahovski. “Now that he’s downloaded this new intersect into his brain I think Sarah’s going to be upset. I think she will to have to save him. The kung fu thing in his head is going to be not permanent. It’s going to be an on and off switch, so it’s sometimes going to work. My understanding is its a flash thing, he’ll flash and all of a sudden he’ll come through with the martial arts but other times it’s not going to work, so Sarah will be there for him.”
Josh Schwartz has a simpler notion. “You know what they say, two steps forward, three steps back. So the dance shall continue.”
Surely Casey gets some love, doesn’t he, Mr. Schwartz? “I pitched my Casey/Ellie thing up there (at the panel) and that thing bombed, man. That went over like the Hindenberg. So far I would love to give Casey a little romance and that seems like what the fans want as well.” How about a love triangle? “We’re looking at a love trapezoid. A love rhombus.”
Once it was established that the relationship struggles were staying the same, more pressing priorities were addressed. So what about Jeffster now that they’re a phenomenon? Will they be taking their act on tour? “I think we have to make them available to fans. I think we have no choice.”
What about that musical episode? Adam Baldwin likes the idea. “No dancing or singing and I’ll be fine.” Ryan Partlin (Captain Awesome) didn’t think he’d have much to contribute. “I’ll do jazz hands.” Zachary Levi isn’t sure. “I know that Chuck is pretty much every genre already, so why not a musical episode? But I just don’t want to jump the shark.” The final word on the issue was taken to the guy that can make it happen. What was Josh Schwartz’s take? “Basically we were there to take notes. The fans ask and I don’t know how the hell we’re gonna do it, but gosh darn it, I guess we have to.”
Other Comments From The Press Room
He had a plan B if Chuck had been cancelled. “The convention circuit.”
So what does he like best about Casey? “My favorite thing about Casey is his sniper appeal. He comes and just snipes the scene, steals it and moves on. Not too heavy a workload which is good. It’s really beneficial for me to work on a show like Chuck, because I’m not Chuck. Let the young kids shoulder that load. He’s just a loveable grouch.”
How did Casey feel about Sarah and Chuck going on those missions without him? “Casey’s a patriotic American and he wants to make sure the mission’s gonna go right. He thinks he’s the best man for the job and he wants to be there. So to be left out of those missions is disappointing, it hurts his feelings [joking]. He’s got feelings, he’s not made of stone.”
How did it feel to do the martial arts episode? “Stretching is painful.”
Could Casey ever kill Chuck? “He’s torn. There’s the conflict. He’s a conflicted guy.”
Mark Christopher Lawrence
Will Big Mike fight back after being demoted? “It would make no sense for him not to. There are three things we know about Big Mike. We know he has the drive to fight back to his position in the store. We know he loves the women, and we know he loves to eat.”
Favorite Big Mike scene? “When I got to knock the Fulcrum guy out, where I slid across the table. I think it would be fun to do more stunts.”
So what’s going to happen to Awesome now that he knows Chuck‘s secret? “For me, it’s like the first season, which Chuck got to carry the weight of the secret and deal with you guys (Sarah and Casey) and the home life. I get to bring that first season back through Awesome’s eyes.
Will the burden be tough? “I think it adds a big dimension. The comedic aspect is there but there would be me crumbling under pressure, not being as awesome as you would expect me to be. I like to let everything in the open. I live my life in the open.”
Anyone else discovering Chuck’s secret? “We have definitely played with the idea of somebody else discovering the secret. Maybe.”
Any guest stars? “Jarod from Subway.” He’s joking, none planned yet.
How are the budget issues affecting the show? “I think in terms of budget stuff, we joked about it on stage, I don’t think you’ll see a difference. I think if we do our jobs right, you won’t know that anybody is not on screen.”
Anymore of Sarah’s back story? “The key to an episode with us is how it’s dimensionalizing these characters. What is the Chuck story, what is the Sarah story, it’s never just a mission of the week. Every mission is hopefully shedding light on the characters and deepening your understanding of them.
What about the “To Be Continued” in the season finale? “We always knew where we wanted the show to pick up. The ‘to be continued,’ I almost pulled it off. I put it on, I was all for it, and I was like I think we should end this with to be continued, Fedak and I talked about it, and then I was like “Oh man, if we don’t come back we’re gonna look like giant assholes.” Come on, bring it! Oh, they didn’t bring it. At the end of the day, if the show hadn’t continued, for the fans the would have known that Chuck was continuing out there in the fan fic universe or something.
Buy More? “The Buy More is still a huge part of the show.”
So who brings the geek humor? “Mostly Chris (Fedak). He definitely drives the dork express in terms of the references.”
Neil Diamond? “Casey’s propensity for Neil Diamond came from Fedak, namely Fedak’s dad.”
Will Chuck be expanded to mediums like comics? “We did a comic. It was a six issue run last year. It’s now going to come out in an Omnibook. And we have this new Chuckmeout website and we’re going to put a lot more web driven content out there.”
Any Gossip Girl scoop? “Gotta watch the show. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I gave that away.”
No thanks Josh, my Mondays are reserved for The Big Bang Theory and Chuck. Geeks are awesome lovers.