Channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 November, 2009, 12:00am

If your memory of the first season of spy dramedy Chuck (AXN; Thursdays at 11pm) is hazy, we wouldn't blame you. Besides the 11/2-year wait before the second season hit Hong Kong, there's the fact that season one was too short to inspire much loyalty. All you need to carry over is the ridiculous premise that an underachieving computer geek becomes a CIA asset overnight, after unwittingly downloading the agency's entire top-secret database into his brain.

Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi; Less Than Perfect) has the dubious honour of being the leader of the nerd herd at electronics super- store Buy More. When he's not busy managing the expectations of his boss, Big Mike, and keeping his fellow nerd herder and best friend from get- ting fired, Bartowski finds himself whisked away by his CIA handlers John Casey (Adam Baldwin; Stargate SG-1) and Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski; Sea Patrol). His job on each mission is to scan faces and objects then retrieve classi- fied information embedded in his brain - called flashing - to help Casey and Walker complete their assignments.

Season two deftly juggles the sub-story arcs - such as Walker's checkered past, Bartowski's sister's impending marriage to Captain Awesome and the power struggles in the 'Buymoria' kingdom - while slowly revealing the connection between the United States government's war against a powerful rogue organisation called Fulcrum and Bartowski's family history.

A show that manages to appropriate flashing into matters of national security and make Nicole Richie look credible as a guest-starring villain is worth keeping an eye on.

Art history takes a dark turn in The Rape of Europa (right; National Geographic Channel, Mondays at 10pm), a fascinating two-part documentary that asks: is a priceless piece of art worth the lives of human beings?

During the second-world-war Nazi occupation of Europe, two figures emerged as leading art thieves: Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering. Based on Lynn Nicholas' award-winning book by the same title, The Rape of Europa follows the systematic Nazi pillaging of artwork from the walls and vaults of museums in every occupied country - beginning with the fate of Gustav Klimt's famed gold Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, which was stolen from Viennese Jews in 1938 and sold for US$135 million in 2006, making it the most expensive painting ever sold at the time.

A parallel narrative charts the patriots of art - everyday people who helped with the removal and concealment of the contents of entire museums in country estates far from the epicentres of the war; as well the post-war efforts to track, preserve and return the pieces to their rightful places.

Through the lens of war and its legacy, your view of legendary paintings such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa will be changed forever.