Note: There have been reports that some of the Blu-ray sets are missing the 3D version of "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension." I have contacted WHV and they've have confirmed that the version with the episode in 3D is a limited edition. However, if you purchased a copy on or before 1/19/10 and did not receive the limited-edition 3D glasses and bonus 3D episode
you can fill out the form here (choose Topic: Home Video & DVD) and a Warner Bros. associate will facilitate replacing the purchased product.
I was a little apprehensive about watching the second season
of Chuck. While I enjoyed
the first set of shows, the
program seemed to be a one-trick pony:
geek-turned-spy gets in trouble and rescued by his handlers, one
which is a hot babe. It could easily
fall into a parody of itself, and I was pretty much expecting that to
happen. Luckily I was wrong.
The second season expands the show greatly.
They examine the backgrounds of several main
and supporting characters, come up with interesting multi-episode story
and have the characters grow over the course of the season. Not only that, but the show still has a great
mix of action and comedy.
Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) was a brilliant student at
Stanford until his life came crashing down on him.
It all happened when his roommate and best
friend, Bryce, stole his first (and only) girlfriend, Jill, and then
to get him kicked out of college. That
was five years ago and Chuck finds himself living with his sister,
Lancaster), a doctor, and her boyfriend, a mountain-climbing sky-diving
who Chuck refers to as Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin.)
He works at the local Buy More, and when he's
not working hangs out with his uber-nerd friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez).
Things all change one evening when, out of the blue, Chuck receives an
from Bryce. It turns out to be a massive
series of images that hold Chuck transfixed for hours.
When the images stop cycling, he passes out.
It turns out that Bryce was a spy for the CIA who went
rouge. For some reason he broke into the
computer that contained all the information that both the CIA and NSA
collected over the years in encrypted form, the Intersect, and
destroyed the computer, and then tried to escape. He
didn't quite make it and with his dying
breath e-mailed the information to Chuck.
Chuck now has the sum total information that the US government
collected since 9/11 stored in his brain, and when his computer
gets destroyed when the CIA tries to steal it, he is the ONLY source of
The problem is that he can't access the data at will.
There has to be a visual trigger that will cause
him to remember something. Since such
important information can't be allowed to walk the streets freely, he
agents assigned to watch his every move:
cute and sexy CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) who
Chuck's girlfriend, and psychopathic killer NSA agent John Casey (Adam
who gets a job at the Buy More and moves into the apartment across from
As the season opens it looks like Chuck's spying nightmare
is almost over. The intelligence community
has just about finished making the second Intersect.
Unfortunately Fulcrum, the evil organization
that has infiltrated the CIA, manages to steal the main chip, which
Sarah, Casey, and Chuck have to retrieve it.
Easier said than done. What makes
matters even worse is that Casey has orders to kill Chuck once the
Intersect is up and running. After all
the CIA and NSA can't let someone with all that information run around
unprotected and they can't protect a redundant resource forever.
Naturally things go wrong and Chuck does not get killed in
the second episode, but that is a threat that hangs over his head for
season. What's more, his private life
gets thrown into upheaval when his old girlfriend Jill turns up and
be working for a man the CIA thinks is selling secrets.
When her boss gets thrown out of a high rise
window, Chuck has to get close to Jill to discover how much she knows.
Chuck's life isn't the only one in upheaval either.
Viewers find out about Sarah's past when she
has to follow a suspect to her own high school reunion, and her father
too, something that she doesn't necessarily welcome.
John Casey has trouble too when he finds out
that his sensei has gone rogue and has started recruiting his old
This was a great season, mainly because they developed the
characters and told longer, more involved stories.
There was more continuity this time around, not
so much that it was easy to get confused, but just enough so you'll
start the next episode as soon as one finishes.
The show really succeeds because of the actors who play the
main characters. Zachary Levi is
wonderful in the title role, playing him as an ordinary guy in
situations that everyone can relate to.
He has just the right amount of panic and grasping at straws
him seem real. He's a bit more used to
being on the wrong end of a gun in this season however and manages to
help on some cases by using his brains rather than just reacting
The Blu-ray Disc:
The 22 episodes that make up Chuck Season Two arrive on four
Blu-ray discs (the back cover says this is a six-disc set... it is
a double width case with slipcover.
Like season one, I wasn't impressed with the video quality
of this program. The show is presented
with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, encoded at 1080p with the VC-1 codex, and
pretty average at best. I was astounded
at how much digital noise and grain was present in the image. Much of the show is plagued by mosquito
noise, especially in the background. I
never saw this show when it was broadcast so I have no idea if it
this originally or if it is a problem with the encoding, but I was
lot better. The whites are often too
bright and details are frequently lost.
Chuck's white work shirt often seems flat and lacking texture,
is very rare blooming.
Aside from the noise issue things look pretty good.
The colors are stable and the flesh tones
look fine. The level of detail is on the
soft side, but there is no confusing this with a SD DVD.
There are even a couple of scenes where the
detail is too good, revealing that wounds that Casey suffered are
latex applications for example. Overall
this doesn't look bad, it just has several problems that keep it out of
top-tier Blu-ray releases.
It's a little disappointing that this season, again, only
comes with a DD 5.1 soundtrack. While I
guess I should be happy that it's not just a stereo track, I was hoping
we'd be treated to lossless audio. In
any case the audio sounds fine with the dialog being easy to discern
music and background noises coming through clearly.
The soundstage wasn't used much, mainly
during the few action sequences when some audio effects were thrown to
rears, so the show isn't as enveloping as I would have liked it. The sub channel was also fairly anemic. For a TV show the sound is fine, just not as
impressive as it could have been.
WB has ported over all of the extras from the SD DVD
release, and it's a pretty good collection.
First off there are deleted and extended scenes to most episodes
across the four discs. The rest of the
bonus material is included on disc four.
One of the things I was happy to see is the episode Chuck
vs. the Third Dimension presented
in 3D (and in HD). It was originally
that way, but most likely won't be again, so it's nice that they
here. They use the anaglyph system
the show through red and blue lenses) and there are two pairs of
glasses included. This doesn't look nearly
as good as the
recent theatrical 3D movies, but it was still fun.
(The 2D version of the episode is included in
the set also.)
There are also a couple of featurettes, all presented in
480i/p: Truth, Spies and
Regular Guys: Exploring the Mythology of Chuck (20
min) - this two part clip show features the cast talking about the
what has happened so far. It brings you
up to date through the ending of season two, so don't watch it unless
seen the episodes in this set first.
Dude in Distress
(18 min) - a look at the stunts in season 2.
Chuck: A Real-Life
Captain Awesome Tip for Being Awesome (3 min) - Awesome offers some advice on various topics - dating,
class reunions etc.
John Casey Presents: So You Want to Be a Deadly Spy? (2 min)
- In Awesome can rate an extra, so does Casey.
He gives some amusing spy tips.
Chuck Versus the
Webisodes (10 min) - five webisodes of training videos for Buy More
employees. These were pretty funny.
Finally there's a gag reel that lasts 8 minutes.
Overall it was a nice selection of amusing bonus material.
This season was even more enjoyable that season one, which
came as a bit of a surprise. Rather than
getting caught up in the same old story lines, the writers explored the
backgrounds of some of the supporting characters and made the show much
because of it. It's hard to mix action
and intrigue with comedy and not have it turn into camp, but the
behind this show have managed to do exactly that. The
stories are fun, the characters are
likeable and the acting is excellent. It
comes Highly Recommended.