Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chuck'ed out by the Villa

I've talked previously of the difficulty I encounter on occasion when watching a TV show, movie, or commercial because I live and work in an area frequently used for filming of such things. Noticing some place that I recognize shakes me out of the narrative, possibly just for a split second, perhaps altogether (depending on how good the story is). It's not so much that I want to experience this (which can be said of every distraction my brain notices); it just happens.

And largely, when it happens to me it happens to me alone; others just find it odd.

However, with last Monday's episode of Chuck, "Chuck vs. The Balcony" (watch at [] or [hulu]), I was not alone.

The plot ostensibly took place in a chateau in the French countryside. However, within seconds of the opening scene I identified the actual Southern California location. And a few seconds later, so did my wife.

Because it was filmed at the place where we got married:

We knew it had been used for such purposes. Amongst the productions that come to mind we'd seen a commercial that clearly had been shot there, and many years prior to our big day it was a location for the Guns 'n Roses video for "November Rain" (the wedding reception scene with the cake-leaping scene—and no, that held no sway on our decision... and to answer your question: our cake made it through the reception with no diving incidents).

So, last week, as we watched the rest of the episode, we were distracted every time the shot included some portion of the grounds, knowing that we'd stood there, or walked there, etc.; we could identify the room set up to look like a wine cellar was actually the room where our guests danced at the reception (with the doors and windows not shut up, of course), or the staircase we decended before the ceremony.

Particularly distracting were the scenes with rather poor CGI done to replace the neighborhood around the facility with what's supposed to be rolling hills of France. And don't get us started on the scene where the main characters stand on a balcony and watch the sunset; we know that balcony faces south, and thus they could not possibly see the sun setting from the angle used.

This is not taking anything away from the production. The episode was about as good as they tend to be in other respects. It's just that we were so familiar with the grounds, that we had such a strong association with the location, we could not just participate in the story as others who did not recognize the scenery presumably did.

Like how we know in the distance of this grove of trees is a power line pole (which they didn't bother covering with CGI in this scene):

But that much I am well accustomed to. As noted, the difference here was that I was not the sole freak experiencing it.

Ah, the unspoken trouble with living in Los Angeles: it ruins entertainment (a little… on occasion).


(Like I need to tell that to people who already look down their noses at the area.)


  1. How cool! I think that's neat! I'm glad you explained the location, because I knew it had to be something near LA. It had that look to it that so many SoCal mansions have.

    My wife has given up on "Chuck," she thinks it's jumping the shark too much. I kinda agree... I wish Zach and Yvonne had more chemistry, but that whole relationship is just flat, and always has been. I liked Kristen Kreuk when they brought her in briefly as Chuck's girlfriend. And now that the Buy More is CIA-run and Morgan's in charge, there's not much tension there anymore. The whole endless Volkhoff thing is annoying too, though it's nice to see Linda Hamilton again. I dunno... it's just losing its spark, I think.

  2. It's not actually a mansion; it's on the grounds of a private Catholic all-girls high school in an upper middle class neighborhood.

    When I mentioned your wife's assessment to my wife, she replied, "Oh, yeah, it jumped the shark a while ago." We're still watching it because... well, we kept watching Heroes all the way to the end, and it's not as bad as that got; we appear to have some odd affinity for sticking with NBC Monday shows that start out okay.


So, what do you think?