NBC already has the best night of comedy on TV, with “My Name Is Earl,” “The Office,” “30 Rock,” and “Scrubs” on Thursdays. Now it looks like they’ve got the best block of sci-fi/fantasy, too, with “Chuck,” “Heroes,” and “Journeyman” on Mondays. We already know how great “Heroes” is, of course; let’s look at the newcomers.
“Chuck” (Mondays, NBC): This sci-fi comedy about an average computer geek who gets all of the NSA’s secret files downloaded into his brain (don’t ask), thus making him an invaluable tool in the war on terror, is very likable. It was co-created by Josh “The O.C.” Schwartz (which is probably why Chuck takes a date to see a cool indie band in the first episode), but the focus is on an “Alias”-meets-“Buffy” style of espionage and smart comedy. The star is Zachary Levi, who evidently was on a sitcom called “Less Than Perfect” from 2002-2006. In other news, apparently there was a sitcom called “Less Than Perfect” from 2002-2006. How do they slip these past me? Anyway, “Chuck” is intelligent and fun. TiVo verdict: Count me in.
“Journeyman” (Mondays, NBC): There’s not as much humor in this show about a San Francisco newspaper reporter who suddenly finds himself traveling through time at random intervals. The reason, of course, is to do good deeds; the show definitely owes a lot to “Early Edition,” “Quantum Leap,” and the bestseller “The Time-Traveler’s Wife.” The first episode established a lot of intriguing backstory: The guy was once engaged to a lawyer who died in a plane crash, and now he’s married to a fellow reporter … who was once his cop brother’s girlfriend. And there’s a nice twist, too, in that our hero isn’t the only person bouncing through time. It strikes me as a pleasant, comfortable show that you don’t have to watch every single week but that will probably be rewarding when you do. TiVo verdict: A low-priority season pass.