Robert Duncan McNeill played a huge part in Star Trek: Voyager as Tom Paris, but many don’t seem to realize that McNeill has had just as much influence behind the camera as he has had in front of it. While he’s a renowned television director, doing shows like Dawsons Creek, One Tree Hill, The O.C., The Orville, Resident Alien, and even Star Trek: Enterprise; he also served as the executive producer of a hit science fiction series from the late-00’s in Chuck.
While on his podcast, the Delta Flyers, McNeill made a passing comment about the science fiction series that caused this writer to go and do a little research into how much involvement he had.
Chuck was a show that aired on NBC about a character named Charles Bartowski (played by Zachary Levi) who through the power of subliminal imagery, has the entire sect of secrets of the US Government uploaded to his brain. (They claim it be a computer but it’s not an actual computer).
It’s one of the best science fiction shows of all time and carries an impressive set of character actors. Apparently, McNeill was a huge part of Chuck’s success. Speaking on The Delta Flyer’s podcast, McNeill talked about how he was getting the studios for Voyager and other shows, namely Chuck mixed up.
As a fan of both Voyager and Chuck, the connection that McNeill had with both was something that never connected with me before. Apparently, McNeill had a huge hand in Chuck’s behind the scenes. He did everything for the series, serving as a director for multiple episodes per season, a producer, then a supervising producer, then a co-executive produce all before finally landing as an executive producer over the last few seasons.
He even cameoed in the series finale, playing a role alongside Jon Casey (Adam Baldwin).
Even though the show ended nearly nine years ago, so this isn’t “newsworthy” so much as it is suggestion worthy. If you like high-concept science fiction that’s fun, witty, and charming, then this is the show for you. McNeill directed some of the best episodes of the series (not that there are any really bad episodes).
The first great episode he directed was Chuck vs. The Sandworm, a Halloween episode that sees Charles Bartowski trying to get a promotion but of course, the spy-life gets in the way. Then there is Chuck vs. The Ring, the Ellie and Awesome wedding episode that gets ruined by Chevy Chase, just before Chase joined the cast of Community. There’s the brilliantly intense Chuck vs. Operation Awesome, which introduced Brandon Routh as Shaw, and Chuck vs. The Ring Part II, which was the emotional followup to the bitterly beautiful Chuck vs. the Subway.
McNeill’s involvement with The Delta Flyers Podcast, which is filmed way in advance apparently (this episode was filmed well before Jan. 3), has gotten so many people back into Star Trek: Voyager, so it’s only fitting we remind people that these Trek actors have done other things and to go and give them a shot as well.
When it comes to Chuck, you won’t regret it.