My first instinct upon stepping into the Buy More was to reach for the brochure for the store credit card. Hey, maybe I could get even better deals at the green-and-yellow big-box store if I just got one of the store-branded pieces of plastic . . .
I pulled my hand back just in time — the brochures, like everything else, were props on the set of Chuck during my visit on the TCA press tour. But it was hard to convince myself we were on a set, not just a Best Buy or CompUSA that had given the Warner Bros. TV crew the go-ahead to film there that day. As much as the set of ER felt like a real hospital, the set of Chuck felt even more like a place I might go to pick up some new DVDs and an extra controller for my Wii.
"We went to a lot of Best Buys, a lot of CompUSAs," said Paul Marks, the Chuck producer who oversees the set. "Just so it looked as real as possible."
There aren't a lot of signs that the 17,000-square-foot store isn't real, so to hear more about it, just read more.
The walls are lined with 50 TVs of various size and screen quality, all on. Every computer is functional, as are the video games. Even the DVD racks are full of real movies — "If you have so many choices, it doesn't feel like you're favoring one thing," said executive producer Josh Schwartz. When the show was first getting started, the producers needed an entire sound stage just for shipping and receiving, painstakingly cataloging each product for three weeks. To film the season one episode where there's a shootout at the Buy More, the crew took the entire store apart, transported it wholesale to a hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, and reassembled it in exactly the same layout.
Chuck embraces the geek love for Hello Kitty, with one whole end shelf dedicated to pink-and-white Sanrio products. There's also a big display for the RoboSapien and another with various guitars for Guitar Hero and Rock Band. It doesn't look like it would be a soul-sucking place to work. In fact, it looks . . . kinda awesome.
"We don't want it to feel like a bummer every time you go to the Buy More," Schwartz said. "For us, we go into a Best Buy and it's really fun — there's lots of cool new stuff you can buy, there's video games, there's music. It's a fun world. That's what we wanted to reflect here."
It certainly worked for this busload of critics, who wandered around flipping through CDs, checking out the HD TV displays, and reading the rules for deployment of a Nerd Herd car. I leaned in to read the fine print on one sign, which listed a special deal where you could have your own personal Buy More nerd set up your computer, and came across this little gem: "Additional Charges May Apply. Like Felony Possession of a Really Lame Computer."
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. TV