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The geek shall inherit the earth

NERD! Chuck, Virgin 1, 10.00pm

ChuckYou may have noticed us going on extensively about how much we were looking forward to this one in our preview of Reaper a few months ago. They both have the same jumping off point, in that they focus on amiable slackers suddenly being thrust into death-defying scenarios on a weekly basis, but from there they head in different directions: Reaper is a sci-fi/fantasy comedy, whereas Chuck is more of an espionage drama with chuckles thrown in. Alias with more humour and less brain-melting complexity, if you like. And also minus the wigs, to our great regret.

The main plot thrust of the show reminds us a little bit of our much-missed Jake 2.0, in that Chuck is a charming nerd who gets thrust into a world he's entirely unfamiliar with after he accidentally reads an e-mail from his old friend-slash-adversary Bryce, since it turns out the e-mail was filled with top secret government information that somehow is directly transferred into his brain. Obviously this makes him a target for all kinds of ne'er-do-wells who want access to what lurks in his head, but since Chuck is hapless and not trained in self-defence, he's assigned help in the form of comely CIA agent Sarah Walker, who's in charge of making sure he doesn't carp it - at least not until they've worked out how to get all the information out of his brain again.

It sounds generic, and in a lot of ways it is, but it's a pretty charming show nonetheless. Those of you who, like us, were glued to the ABC1 channel before it got put out to pasture will probably recognise lead actor Zachary Levi from his stint on not-especially-funny Sara Rue vehicle Less Than Perfect (he was also in Big Momma's House 2, but let's not hold that against him), and his chemistry with co-star Yvonne Strahovski crackles nicely in the pilot. But our favourite part of the show, one that we hope gets more screentime in later episodes since his time in the pilot was tragically limited, is Chuck's sister's boyfriend, Captain Awesome. We'd explain why, but the name pretty much sums it up.

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According to Marxist theory, cultural forms such as opera, classical music and the literary works of Shakespeare all fall under the heading of high culture. Low culture refers to a wide variety of cultural themes that are characterised by their consumption by the masses. We might not be Marxists, but we do know we loved Footballers Wives. If you do too, you'll know what this is all about.

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