"Come with me if you want to live." - Linda Hamilton (as Mary
The problem facing most series that last more than a season
or two is how to continue the show and give the fans what they like
repeating what's come before. Basically
the creators have to come up with something that's exactly like the
seasons, only different. Chuck
has been particularly adept at
doing that, having season-long story arcs that mix things up just a bit
each individual episode has all of the action and comedy that fans have
expect. Season Four is no exception,
another funny and exciting series of show that has the concept firing
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
first (and only) girlfriend, Jill, and then conspired to get him kicked
college. That was five years ago (as the
series begins) and Chuck finds himself living with his sister, Ellie
Lancaster), a doctor, and her boyfriend Devon, a mountain-climbing
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 the
Intersect, a program that downloads a CIA database into Chuck's brain. Now whenever he sees someone or something
that's in the database he'll 'flash' and instantly gain all the
that the CIA knows about that person or thing.
After the original Intersect is destroyed, Chuck is the ONLY
that information. Since such important
information can't be allowed to walk the streets freely, he gets two
assigned to watch his every move: cute
and sexy CIA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) who poses as
girlfriend, and psychopathic killer NSA agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin)
gets a job at the Buy More and moves into the apartment across from
As the show went on Chuck got upgraded to the Intersect 2.0,
found out his crazy father was actually a genius, and has gone from the
who's supposed to stay in the car to a full fledged spy.
At the end of the third season however,
things get a bit crazy and Chuck discovers that him mother who
when he was 9 was a CIA spy at the time that was possibly captured by
Russians and he and Sarah finally get together and agree to cohabitate. Oh yeah, and the Buy More blows up.
As the season opens, Chuck decides that he is going to use
the information he inherited from his father to track down his long
mother. Sarah and Casey, being the good
friends that they are, agree to help him in any way they can. It's a good thing too, because the search for
Mary Bartowski (Linda Hamilton) is filled with twists and turns. They quickly discover that she was a CIA
operative working on taking down a Russian arms dealer Alexei Volkoff
person who plays Volkoff is a bit of a surprise, but suffice to say he
wonderful job.) It appears that Mary was
captured by Volkoff, but then it looks like maybe she defected, or
just be deep undercover? Every time
Chuck thinks he understands what's going on, something happens to make
question his conclusions.
While all this is going on, Chick is feeling a little unsure
about his relationship with Sarah. She's
living with him, sure, but she hasn't unpacked her suitcase yet. He's sure that he loves her, but how does she
feel about him? It can be hard to get a
professional spy to talk, especially about their feelings.
A good amount of the humor in this season revolves, as
usual, around the Buy More. The CIA
decided that it was a perfect cover, so they rebuilt the store as a
state-of-the-art spy facility manned by experienced agents. General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) is the
manager, but she doesn't have time for the day-to-day running of the
she passes the coveted managers keys to the only person who knows about
whole Chuck/CIA thing but has nothing to do:
Morgan (who becomes a CIA
employee with access to 'the castle' the hidden facility under the Buy
I was a bit apprehensive about this season. I
wasn't really sure that the search for
Chuck's mom story would work. After all
they did something similar with his father.
Turns out I didn't need to worry.
The larger plot had a lot of twists and turns and while they did
themselves somewhat (Chuck looses the Intersect at one point) the show
felt tired or that it had overstayed its welcome.
If anything they've ramped up the comedy a bit by putting in
more parodies. These were really funny
and worked well. If you have never seen The Court Jester, for example, the sequence
in Chuck Vs. The Balcony where Chuck
had to find a particular bottle of wine at a wine tasting contest was
hilarious. Morgan, back at The Castle,
describes the bottle as "there's a stable on the label and a stork on
a phrase that Chuck messes up a couple of times. The
best parody this season has to be in Chuck Versus the
Leftovers. It's the day after
Thanksgiving and some
foreign agents have stormed the Buy More after closing.
Sarah, Casey, and Chuck are trapped in The
Castle, and the only person who can help them is Morgan who hides in
ducts. It's a hilarious take off on Die Hard that ends with a great moment
Linda Hamilton does a good job as Chuck mother, but the
person who steals the most scenes is Timothy Dalton.
As Mary's MI-6 handler who never goes out
into the field he's the perfect spy nerd, and it's hilarious to watch
one-time James Bond fumble and fold under pressure.
The Blu-ray Disc:
The 24 episodes that make up Chuck Season Three arrive on four
Blu-ray discs in a double width case with slipcover.
Like the earlier seasons, 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
it looks 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
saw this show when it was broadcast so I have no idea if it appeared
originally or if it is a problem with the encoding, but I was expecting
better. The whites are often too bright
and details are frequently lost. Chuck's
white work shirt often seems flat and lacking texture, and there is
Aside from the noise issue things look pretty good.
The colors are fairly 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.
This time around fans are treated to at DTS-HD Master Audio
5.1 soundtrack which sounds great. The
dialog is easy to discern and the music and background noises coming
clearly. The soundstage wasn't used much,
mainly during the few action sequences when some audio effects were
the 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.
There are some nice bonus features included with this set, all
in HD. The
main bonus is the Top Secret Chuckipedia Experience a
video commentary to the episode
Chuck Vs. the First Fight. It has a
nice commentary as well as icons that viewers can select to go to
and more information. It was very nicely
done. That's followed by Buy
Hard (14 min) a collection of 5
Jeff and Lester webisodes that are fun if you enjoy the two screw-ups. I really like the duo, and this was the
highlight of the bonus material. Spying on the Chuck Cast - Operation
Gomez is a fake interview that didn't really work for me, and Chuck Vs. Directing trails star Zachary
Levi as he steps behind the camera to direct an episode.
There are also deleted scenes to several
episodes and a fairly lame gag reel.
Like the previous seasons, this is a wonderfully
entertaining show that's willing to take risks to keep the program
interesting. This season's guest stars
Linda Hamilton and Timothy Dalton do a fantastic job and add a lot to
show. The stories are fun, the
characters are likeable and the acting is excellent.
It comes Highly