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Way to Go, 'Chuck'!

Do you spy a hit? Zachary Levi (with Yvonne Strahovski) has the title role of a geeky schmo at a big-box store who's drawn in the world of espionage.
Do you spy a hit? Zachary Levi (with Yvonne Strahovski) has the title role of a geeky schmo at a big-box store who's drawn in the world of espionage. (By Dean Hendler -- Nbc)

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VIDEO | Chuck
VIDEO | The Big Bang Theory

Leonard actually thinks he stands a chance with the newly descended goddess, and that leads to an exchange that was quoted all summer in promos for the show. Defending the possibility of a relationship with Penny, Leonard says that, after all, "I'm a male and she's a female," and Sheldon responds, "Yes, but of what species?"

Parsons as Sheldon has the more distinctive delivery and seems to get better dialogue, much of it in the non sequitur class: "I do yearn for faster downloads" and "A clean colon is one less thing to worry about." Neither of these boys is good enough for Penny, but that gives the antics a tinge of poignancy and helps keep the show from being just a series of put-down jokes and wry, dry rejoinders.

Sheldon and Leonard aren't really a Laurel and Hardy, come to think of it, but more of a Laurel and Laurel, at least in terms of physiognomy and tendency toward deadpan delivery. Whatever they are, they're good at being it, and "Big Bang" should be able to fulfill its assignment: help keep the CBS viewers laughing for the first two hours of prime time on Mondays.

Considering the times in which we live, it's not as small an accomplishment as it sounds.

'Journeyman'

Journeyman, Journeyman, why do you roam? Journeyman, Journeyman, why not stay home?

Not the stuff of even bad folk songs, or folk legends either, NBC's "Journeyman," premiering tonight, is an instantly tired and tiring fantasy drama about a newspaper reporter who keeps having blackouts (so far, so good) during which he travels back in time to 10 or 20 years ago (too far, too bad). Why does he travel back in time? Because he hasn't anything better to do, apparently.

Kevin McKidd, who plays time-traveling Dan Vasser, isn't a very attractive or charismatic presence, but then he's called upon to be pained and confused much of the time. Time travel is, let's face it, pretty feeble as a gimmick by now. You'd think Mike Myers would have killed it off for good when he had the wonderfully ridiculous Dr. Evil (Myers) hopping from year to year willy-nilly in the Austin Powers movies.

But no, that doesn't stop series creator Kevin Falls from sending his poor schmo back to 1987, where he rescues a mysterious man from an advancing trolley car. Vasser knows something's amiss because, good heavens, Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel are still hosting the "Today" show! The horror!

Our boy suffers another spell and is transported back to the present, but only one or two commercial breaks later and he's off on another fling, taking a hike to December 1997 and discovering his younger self boozing it up at a bar. What about the old time travel rule that said you must not run into yourself as you dart amongst the decades? That's how it worked in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Back to the Future" and too many other time travails to count.

The premise is weak and leaky, the star is dull and dreary, and the only trip "Journeyman" ought to take is right back to the shop for repairs -- or off to the dump for a decent burial.

Chuck (one hour) debuts tonight at 8 on NBC.

The Big Bang Theory (30 minutes) debuts tonight at 8:30 on CBS.

Journeyman (one hour) debuts tonight at 10 on NBC.


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