All in a day's work: Fantasy TV series get a dose of reality through characters' jobs

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While some media attention has been paid this fall to the onslaught of TV series about the wealthy -- CBS's "Cane," ABC's "Big Shots" and "Dirty Sexy Money" -- there are plenty of shows, all with fantasy elements, that feature a lead character working in retail establishments, most notably big box stores -- the modern equivalent of the factories of yesteryear. Here's how they stack up:

(8 p.m. Monday, NBC)

Employee: Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), a "nerd" only in the mind of television network executives, had government secrets downloaded into his brain. Now he goes on secret missions for the government, using his retail job as cover.

Fictional workplace: The Nerd Herd at Buy More.

Real world store: The Geek Squad at Best Buy.

On the job: Helps a young gamer by fixing his video-game gun. Chuck vies for the assistant store manager position, competing with another employee for the promotion. His best friend also works at the store.

At home: Lives with his sister (Sarah Lancaster) and her beau (Ryan McPartlin), whom Chuck refers to as Capt. Awesome.

(9 p.m. Tuesday, The CW)

Employee: Sam (Bret Harrison), who works at a home improvement store by day and as a bounty hunter for Satan in his down time.

Fictional workplace: The Work Bench.

Real world store: Home Depot/Lowe's.

On the job: Pines for co-worker Andi (Missy Peregrym, Ben Roethlisberger's girlfriend) and hunts hell's escapees with friends and co-workers Sock (Tyler Labine) and Ben (Rick Gonzalez). Last week, Sam found Satan (Ray Wise) checking out one of The Work Bench's sheds and praising its spaciousness.

At home: Lives with his parents and more successful younger brother.


(9 p.m. Monday, NBC)

Employee: Noah "Horn Rimmed Glasses" Bennet (Jack Coleman), father of cheerleader Claire. His motivations are murky. Is he good? Bad? Somewhere in between?

Fictional workplace: Copy Kingdom.

Real world store: FedEx Kinkos.

On the job: Put his annoying, younger boss in a death grip and earned the right to take as long a lunch as he desires.

At home: On the run from his former employers, but he still manages to live in an upscale Southern California home that he can't possibly afford on his Copy Kingdom salary. Maybe he invested well?

(8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC)

Employee: Joel (Bill English), an evolved caveman who even has a girlfriend!

Fictional workplace: Norskbild.

Real world store: Ikea.

On the job: Last week Nick fished fornicating employees out of a children's ball pit. He trains new employees to "restore modules back to their original state after a customer's trial habitation."

At home: Lives with his brother Andy (Sam Huntington) and roommate Nick (Nick Kroll) in their San Diego apartment.

TV editor Rob Owen can be reached at or 412-263-2582. Ask TV questions at under TV Q&A.


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