With a very busy fall and a fairly lame set of new programs, I'll admit that my television viewing has been sketchy lately. One show I have enjoyed is Chuck, the spy adventure/parody that airs Mondays on NBC. I'm a big fan of James Bond, The Avengers, I Spy, and other secret-agent-related pop ephemera, and I've enjoyed the ways Chuck has blended the conventions of the genre with an Apatow-style look at geek culture and corporate homogeneity. It has an appealing cast, too, including Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strzechowski, and the wonderfully deadpan Adam Baldwin. Mostly, though, it has Josh Schwartz, auteur behind TV's most pleasurable guilty pleasure, The OC (remind me to tell you sometime about what a delirious screwball delight that program's final season was). Chuck feels like the kind of show Seth Cohen might have written if he'd grown up and become a Hollywood screenwriter: it's funny, bright, sweet and plastic in all the best ways.
Still, even this show is one I miss from time to time, which is why I perked up at the ad for this week's episode, which announced a guest appearance from Rachel Bilson. Bilson played Summer Roberts on The OC, and was that fine cast's strongest asset: cute, funny, and smart, and able to balance snarky dizziness with surprising poignancy, particularly in the show's later seasons. She speaks like she has a gobstopper permanently stuck in her mouth: her cadences and inflections are always offbeat, and she always found ways to make even the most cliched dialogue pop by landing her emphasis on an unexpected word (she made the recurring "Co-HEN!" an expression of exasperation, confusion, love and jouissance, sometimes all at once). I'm kind of surprised she hasn't had a bigger career (although when your last big film was the Paul Haggis-scripted mess-- or is that redundant?--The Last Kiss, I guess you're a bit handicapped), but I'm delighted she'll be back on TV this week, and I think it's nice she and Schwartz haven't forgotten each other.
Monday at 8-- be there or be Marissa, daddio.