Exec produced by the combination of McG ("Charlie's Angels") and Josh Schwartz ("Gossip Girl"), "Chuck" is an entertaining geek fantasy starring Zachary Levi as Chuck, an ordinary guy who works in the Nerd Herd (think Geek Squad) at the local Best Buy-like electronics store by day and plays video games with pals at night. As the pilot opens, Chuck is in the midst of sneaking out of his own birthday party, then gets caught by his irritated sister, Ellie (Sarah Lancaster), who wants him to socialize with the guests - almost all of whom are her friends she brought and chuck feels too awkward to talk to.
Meanwhile, an old friend of Chuck's now working as a rogue spy and, before he gets caught, he sends an email to his former friend Chuck. When Chuck sees the video in the email (which looks an awful lot like something out of "The Ring"), the entire NSA / CIA database is downloaded into his head, only able to be triggered by certain images.
However, while Chuck is freaking out at strange things that are starting to occur, he is confronted with a cute girl new to the neighborhood named Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) who wants a date. Sarah, however, isn't simply an average girl - she's a CIA agent who is aware that Chuck may have had contact with his old friend.
After getting into the middle of a dangerous situation, Chuck is faced with the facts: his mind has essentially been turned into a computer full of national security secrets, and it's up to easily angered NSA agent Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Sarah to try and protect him - occasionally from himself. While Sarah and Chuck's relationship is all business at first, he certainly falls for the beautiful blonde quickly, and she starts to realize that she has feelings for him, too. All this is kept from Chuck's sister (Sarah Lancaster), his best friend (Joshua Grimes) and his sister's boyfriend, Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin).
The series did a nice job giving itself a bit of a reboot in the third season: while Chuck was the clumsy "item" that Sarah had to watch over, having downloaded a new program into his memory, Chuck has become faster, quicker and more powerful - even, "Matrix-like", well-aware of the martial arts. The result is a series that turns itself inside out: the hunted has now become the hunter as Chuck becomes Chuck 2.0.
The fourth season of the series does a really nice job continuing to ramp up the concept. Additionally, the show's ability to keep the balance - light enough to remain fun and get laughs while having enough weight to keep viewers involved in the plot - continues to impress.
This time around, Chuck decides to hunt for whatever happened to his mother, Mary (played by Linda Hamilton, no less.) First thing first, however - the season starts off with Chuck welcomed back into the fold in an unexpected way at a very, very familiar location. Elsewhere, Sarah and Casey are out on missions, but both of them miss having Chuck along.
Soon enough, they're both reunited, but it's not long until a new mission presents itself: trying to find out more about Russian arms dealer Alexei Volkoff (another example of the show's clever casting - who plays Volkoff is a terrific surprise, and there are some other great minor cameos/roles this season, as well.) Chuck and Morgan's attempts to find out more about his mother play right into Sarah and Casey's mission: it turns out that Chuck's mother was undercover trying to investigate.
The season mixes in the thread regarding Chuck's mother with the usual array of one-off missions and a further exploration of the relationship between Chuck and Sarah. While the series could have started to run out of steam after advancing the Chuck/Sarah relationship further, the show's creators manage to handle/integrate the relationship well and it actually feels a little more engaging here than it did last season. The action is still well-choreographed and mostly tense and exciting.
This season includes several highlights, including "Chuck vs. the Anniversary" (Ellie is going to be a mom, Buy More makes a return and a Chinese menu is an indicator of where Chuck's mom might be), "Chuck vs. the Leftovers" (a surprise guest makes an appearance with Thanksgiving leftovers), "Chuck Vs. the Masquerade" (Chuck and his team race to protect Volkoff's daughter on Valentine's day), "Chuck Vs. the Push Mix" (intended to be the fourth season finale before more episodes were ordered, the episode sees Chuck making a big step forward), "Chuck Vs. the Wedding Planner" (Chuck and Sarah call in the works to go after the wedding planner who conned them) and the finale, "Chuck vs. the Cliffhanger".
• Season 4
55 4-01 20/Sep/10 Chuck Versus the Anniversary
56 4-02 27/Sep/10 Chuck Versus the Suitcase
57 4-03 04/Oct/10 Chuck Versus the Cubic Z
58 4-04 11/Oct/10 Chuck Versus the Coup D'Etat
59 4-05 18/Oct/10 Chuck Versus the Couch Lock
60 4-06 25/Oct/10 Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror
61 4-07 01/Nov/10 Chuck Versus the First Fight
62 4-08 15/Nov/10 Chuck Versus the Fear of Death
63 4-09 22/Nov/10 Chuck Versus Phase Three
64 4-10 29/Nov/10 Chuck Versus the Leftovers
65 4-11 17/Jan/11 Chuck Versus the Balcony
66 4-12 24/Jan/11 Chuck Versus the Gobbler
67 4-13 31/Jan/11 Chuck Versus the Push Mix
68 4-14 07/Feb/11 Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible
69 4-15 14/Feb/11 Chuck Versus the C.A.T. Squad
70 4-16 21/Feb/11 Chuck Versus the Masquerade
71 4-17 28/Feb/11 Chuck Versus The First Bank Of Evil
72 4-18 14/Mar/11 Chuck Versus the A-Team
73 4-19 21/Mar/11 Chuck Versus the Murder
74 4-20 11/Apr/11 Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff
75 4-21 18/Apr/11 Chuck Versus The Wedding Planner
76 4-22 02/May/11 Chuck Versus Agent X
77 4-23 09/May/11 Chuck Versus the Last Details
78 4-24 16/May/11 Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger
VIDEO: "Chuck" is presented by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment in 1.78:1. The presentation quality is good and remains a touch above broadcast quality throughout the show. Sharpness and definition were solid throughout the episodes, with fine details looking crisp and clear throughout most scenes. Some light artifacting and a few touches of edge enhancement were spotted, but the image otherwise looked mostly clean. The show's vibrant color palette looked bright and well-saturated throughout the proceedings, too.
SOUND: "Chuck" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Given the show's action sequences, it's no surprise that the show's sound design is aggressive at times, with gunfire, explosions and other sound effects coming from the rear speakers at times. Audio quality is terrific, with bassy effects, crisp dialogue and clear, full-sounding score.
EXTRAS: The multi-episode "film", "Buy Hard: The Jeff and Lester Story" (which offers some laughs), deleted scenes, "Chuck Vs. Directing" (Zachary Levi tries directing), gag reel and a short featurette on star Josh Gomez.
Final Thoughts: "Chuck" is a delight in the fourth season, continuing to provide high-energy laughs, action and twists. The DVD provides fine audio/video quality, as well as a few minor extras.