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With four seasons in the can, CHUCK has been saved from the chopping block one last time and will come back for a truncated fifth and final season of comic spy mayhem. Since it first appeared, CHUCK has been one of the most consistently entertaining delights on the broadcast network schedule. Mixing genres into an incredibly tasty entertainment frappe has been the thing that has separated CHUCK from much of the inferior broadcast fray. As I’ve said in the past, CHUCK is 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 its four 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 ultimately leads the two on a trip down the aisle. Also becoming part of the comic spy mayhem are Chuck’s slacker best friend Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez), who ultimately steps up to show is work, as well as Chuck’s overprotective sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Ellie’s husband Devon aka Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin). The season cast of CHUCK also features Mark Christopher Lawrence, Vik Sahay, Scott Krinsky, Matthew Bomer, Mekenna Melvin and Bonita Friedericy.

CHUCK: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON ($70) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a four-disc set that features the following twenty four episodes that were aired during year four: Chuck Versus The Anniversary, Chuck Versus The Suitcase, Chuck Versus The Cubic Z, Chuck Versus The Coup D'Etat, Chuck Versus The Couch Lock, Chuck Versus The Aisle Of Terror, Chuck Versus The First Fight, Chuck Versus The Fear Of Death, Chuck Versus Phase Three, Chuck Versus The Leftovers, Chuck Versus The Balcony, Chuck Versus The Gobbler, Chuck Versus The Push Mix, Chuck Versus The Seduction Impossible, Chuck Versus The Cat Squad, Chuck Versus The Masquerade, Chuck Versus The First Bank Of Evil, Chuck Versus The A-TEAM, Chuck Versus The Muuurder, Chuck Versus The Family Volkoff, Chuck Versus The Wedding Planner, Chuck Versus Agent X, Chuck Versus The Last Details and Chuck Versus The Cliffhanger. During season four Chuck goes in search of his missing mother Mary Elizabeth Bartowski (Linda Hamilton), who is revealed to have been a CIA agent who has spent two decades off everyone radar due to a mission involving the villainous Alexei Volkoff (Timothy Dalton).

Warner Home Video has made all twenty four episodes from CHUCK: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Once again, the 1080p presentations on Blu-ray are better than what is seen on broadcast, but the series 16mm production techniques don’t exactly make CHUCK one of the best looking television shows out there. This isn’t to say CHUCK looks bad in any particular way, just a bit gritty and a little stylized. For the most part, the image is fairly sharp, but lacks the level of finer detail one finds in shows shot on 35mm. Colors come across at a fairly natural level saturation, but there are moments that display stronger saturation. Blacks are deep and the whites appear crisp. The photographic style remains contrasty in places, as well as appearing somewhat flat in other places. Shadow detail is less than stellar, with the darker areas of the picture looking a bit muddy. Grain ranges from mild to heavy.

All of the episodes that constitute CHUCK: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The lossless encodes give the episodes a nice boost over the previous three collection that featured lossy sound. The episodes sound designs seem to make better use of the outlying channels than the previous seasons, although talky passages remain front and center. Additionally, there are good channel separations for musical component. The rear channels come into play during the action sequences. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is quite strong, especially where the musical component is concerned. The bass channel is adds weight and an occasional bit of percussive force. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and 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. Starting things off is The Top Secret Chuckipedia Interactive Experience is a picture-in-picture Video Commentary for the episode Chuck Versus The First Fight, which also includes access to relevant ancillary programs and The Nerd Herd (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Featurettes and other programs include the following: Chuck Versus Directing (thirteen minutes), Buy Hard: The Jeff And Lester Story (fourteen minutes) and Spying On The Cast: Operation Gomez (ten minutes). Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel close out the supplemental materials.

Four seasons in, remains one of the most consistently entertaining delights on the broadcast network schedule. The Blu-ray presentations may not be stunning, but accurately reflect how the episodes were shot. As always, CHUCK is highly recommended.


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


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 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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