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Even after three seasons, and having been saved from the chopping block on more than one occasion, I am happy that CHUCK is coming back for a forth season of comic spy mayhem. CHUCK is one of the true gems on the broadcast network schedule, a show that consistently entertains… a sort of little engine that could of the airwaves. Initially picked up for only thirteen episodes, CHUCK in its little engine that could fashion received an order for an additional six episodes that brought season three to a total of nineteen. Reports indicate that season four of CHUCK has also received an initial order for only thirteen episodes, but there is an option for nine more.

For my money, the thing that makes CHUCK a truly special television series is how it mixes genres, without falling into the traps of any one. CHUCK is at heart a character driven romantic comedy that perfectly melds in the elements of a spy show. CHUCK is one of those series that are not only smartly written, but offer fully fleshed out characters- all the way down to its supporting players. None of the characters are half-baked, nor do they change from their established patterns to suit a plot device. The premise of CHUCK follows the misadventures of Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), a seemingly aimless twenty-something year old, who once had a bright future, that is, until he was kicked out of Stanford University and was dumped by his girlfriend. Now working as a computer tech in the "Nerd Herd" of a local Buy More store, Chuck finds his go nowhere existence radically altered when he received an unexpected email from his old college roommate.

Opening the email, Chuck is overwhelmed by a flood of images that ultimately become imbedded in his brain. As it turns out, Chuck’s old roommate was a rogue CIA operative, and the email contained the only copy of a database of super secret information from a neural supercomputer called The Intersect. The Intersect contained an amalgam of all of information pertaining to the global spy network, which was lost when the supercomputer was subsequently destroyed. In short order, Chuck finds himself in the protective care of CIA Agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and NSA operative John Casey (Adam Baldwin).

Across three seasons, Chuck goes from being just an asset that needs protecting, to an important member of the team and finally to an actual CIA operative that just happens to have a huge computer database locked in his head. Of course, the inevitable sexual tension between Chuck and Sarah, resulting from her pretending to be Chuck’s girlfriend- leads to an on again off again romantic relationship that may or may not be undone by their actual working relationship. Also in Chuck’s orbit are his slacker best friend (Morgan Grimes), his overprotective sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Ellie’s husband Devon aka Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin). The cast of CHUCK also features Mark Christopher Lawrence, Vik Sahay, Scott Krinsky, Matthew Bomer and Bonita Friedericy.

CHUCK: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON ($70) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a four-disc set that features the following nineteen episodes that were aired during year three: Chuck Versus The Pink Slip, Chuck Versus The Three Words, Chuck Versus The Angel De La Muerte, Chuck Versus Operation Awesome, Chuck Versus First Class, Chuck Versus The Nacho Sampler, Chuck Versus The Mask, Chuck Versus The Fake Name, Chuck Versus The Beard, Chuck Versus The Tic Tac, Chuck Versus The Final Exam, Chuck Versus The American Hero, Chuck Versus The Other Guy, Chuck Versus The Honeymooners, Chuck Versus The Role Models, Chuck Versus The Tooth, Chuck Versus The Living Dead, Chuck Versus The Subway and Chuck Versus The Ring, Part II. During season three, Chuck flunks out of spy school and loses Sarah; Agent Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh) takes over Operation Bartowski; Chuck begins a romance with Hannah (Kristin Kreuk), while Sarah becomes involved with Shaw; Chuck eventually proves himself and becomes a full fledged operative; The Ring infiltrates Operation Bartowski; and Chuck’s elusive father, Stephen Bartowski (Scott Bakula), reappears.

Warner Home Video has made all nineteen episodes from CHUCK: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Once again, the 1080p presentations on Blu-ray are better than what is seen on broadcast, plus season three appears to have been produced in a less visually stylized manner than the preceding two. The image is fairly sharp, but finer detail can be less than exemplary. For the most part, color saturation is a naturalistic level, but there are moments with stronger saturation. Blacks are accurate and the whites appear crisp. The photographic style is still somewhat contrasty in places, as well as appearing somewhat flat in other places. Shadow detail is wanting, as there is a decided mushiness in any dark areas of the picture. Grain is noticeable throughout; ranging from mild to somewhat heavier.

All of the episodes that constitute CHUCK: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 640kbps soundtracks. Like the preceding seasons, CHUCK: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON features fairly typical episodic television sound design that is primarily locked front and center. Channel separations exist across the front, while the rear channels are limited to mild ambient sounds and musical fill. Again, even the action sequences sound restrained. Considering the television caliber sound design, one really isn’t losing much with the lossy encode. Sound effects hold their own, and the bass channel adds a bit of weight. The musical component may have benefited from a lossless encode, but the sound designs are a little under-whelming. Dialogue is crisply rendered and generally easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Chuck-Fu And Dim Sum (twenty two minutes) and The Jeffster Revolution (eleven minutes). Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel close out the extras.

As I stated above, CHUCK is one of the true gems on the broadcast network schedule. The Blu-ray presentations may not be stunning, but accurately reflect how of the episodes are intended to look. Highly Recommended.


Chuck: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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