Comic-Con '07: Spy games with Chuck

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Remember this name: Zachary Levi.

The young actor (Less Than Perfect) is poised for breakout fame as the star of the new NBC action-comedy Chuck. He plays the lead role, a nerdy employee at a Best Buy clone who fixes computers and does technical support for a group called the Nerd Herd (like Best Buy's Geek Squad).

But when he opens up an e-mail from an old college buddy ("buddy" may be the wrong word--he stole Chuck's girlfriend and was the envy of the campus) named Bryce, his life changes. Chuck accidentally becomes privy to the secrets of the National Security Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency by opening an e-mail from Bryce, making him a wanted man and one of the government's best sources of intel.

Soon, he has a sexy CIA agent (played by Aussie actress Yvonne Strzechowski) and a stern NSA employee (played by Firefly's Adam Baldwin) tailing him, and he must juggle his new found importance with his regular life.

Levi plays Chuck with a winning combination of The Office's Jim Halpert and Saturday Night Live's Jimmy Fallon, melding sheepishness and physical comedy in a way that already has ladies swooning.

The show's pilot was screened before a Comic-Con audience (with a question-and-answer panel following), and the reception was overwhelmingly positive. It's also won over NBC execs, who have given the show one of the best time slots the network has. Chuck was moved to Monday nights at 8 p.m. as the lead in for megahit Heroes, hoping to offer a bit of humor for the geek crowd before they tune into the more serious storylines of Heroes.

Levi isn't alone, though. Playing Chuck's buddy Morgan is the equally energetic Joshua Gomez, who does just enough to keep Chuck in the spotlight while carving out his own presence. The two also contribute heavily to what eventually goes on screen by improvising, which, thanks to their natural chemistry, only improves the show.

The thing that should keep the show alive past its first season is the use of parallel storylines. Chuck isn't just struggling to be a great superagent, he's also working his way through middle management at the Buy More electronics store. In fact, creepy Bulgarian demolitions experts aren't even as frightening as Chuck's Buy More rival for the assistant manager position, a menacing short Asian man with a shaved head played by C.S. Lee (Dexter).

Promotion for the show is in full gear with a new Web site called chuckssecret.com that features clips, links to Chuck's myspace and last.fm profiles, and other viral marketing campaigns.

Chuck premieres on NBC on September 24. Be sure to watch TV.com's exclusive interview with Levi and Gomez and footage from the Comic-Con panel, both of which are now showing in the video player in the top right of the page. For more information on the program, read TV.com's previous coverage.

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