I’ll be honest, at first Chuck sounded like a pretty bad idea to me. I expected it to be a kind of modern Get Smart with a reluctant geek hero. And that’s pretty much what it turned out to be. Except it turned out to also be pretty darn entertaining as well. It all really starts with a solid cast and tightly written stories. Each episode manages to capture just the right blend of drama and comedy. I resist the trendy word dramedy, but if any series fits the mold, it would have to be Chuck.
In the first season we met Chuck Bartowski (Levi). He was a super-smart student at Stanford when his best friend Bryce Larkin (Bomer) set him up to take the fall as a cheater and be kicked out of school in disgrace. The only job he can get now is working at the Buy More (Best Buy) on the Nerd Herd (Geek Squad). But Bryce wasn’t done with Chuck yet. Turns out that Bryce is a CIA agent who has been working on the top secret project called Intersect. The Intersect is a computer program that can download the entire government’s database into a person’s brain through a series of coded flash images. Not content with getting him kicked out of school, Bryce tricks Chuck into getting the Intersect inside his brain. Now Chuck is an important government asset and in need of protecting. Enter CIA agent Sarah Walker (Strahovski) who is Chuck’s CIA handler. Their cover is boyfriend and girlfriend, which confuses Chuck’s family and friends, who never thought he could get such a hot girlfriend. The muscle for the team is Agent John Casey (Baldwin), who resents being assigned to such a lame mission. Not only do they have to keep Chuck and the Intersect safe, but they must take untrained Chuck on their missions because of the intel stashed in his brain. While Chuck is not consciously aware of the information he carries, when he sees something that triggers a piece of the data, something they call flashing, he is able to access the relevant data. The bad guys are part of an organization called Fulcrum, which is this show’s Kaos or Spectre.
Chuck lives with his sister Ellie (Lancaster) and her fiancée Devon (McPartlin), also known as Captain Awesome because of his propensity to use the term awesome. Both are doctors at the local hospital. At the Buy More, Chuck is joined by his best friend since childhood, the lazy Morgan (Gomez). Morgan is the kind of guy who will work twice as hard to avoid a job as the job itself would have required. Also at the Buy More is Jeff (Krinsky), a burned out druggie and drinker, and Lester (Patel) a rather clueless Indian (from India). Morgan’s girl Anna (Ling) is a kick-butt no-nonsense Asian girl. The store is managed by Big Mike (Lawrence), who would rather be fishing.
Now we’re in Season 3, and a lot has changed for our reluctant spy. Not only does he have all of that information in his head; now he has skills that translate to things like martial arts abilities that he didn’t have before. This was all courtesy of that climactic new download at the end of the second season. Think Neo in the Matrix films without all the training sessions or Yoda advice. Now Chuck starts to feel like a real spy, and the season brings Chuck dangerously close to allowing these skills to change who he his. It will mean some relationship problems, both with Sarah and with his family and friends and the Buy More. The season ends with another cliffhanger as Chuck is short-circuiting and doesn’t have quite the command of the Intersect that he needs. There’s a return by Scott Backula as Chuck’s father. Each of the main characters gets some great background stories once again. Just when you think you knew everything you needed to know about Casey, the show throws you another curve. It’s more really good fun, both light and intense at the same time. It all really boils down to characters you really have grown to like by this time. Casey discovers a family which includes a daughter. Superman himself, Brandon Routh, joins the cast as a spy who will be a rival for Sarah’s affections. The biggest development here is that Morgan, Awesome and Ellie learn Chuck’s truth. They all get caught up in missions, and that leads to some of the best material in the show to date.
Finally, the best part of the show is the ease with which you can join in. Certainly, it’s better to know the back story. But if you don’t, you’ll catch up quickly enough to have a good time. Honestly, if you’ve never seen this show, go out and get both seasons. You won’t be disappointed.
Each episode of Chuck is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 The high definition image presentation is a remarkable step up from the DVD’s I had been viewing. Colors are bright and very crisp. Some of Sarah’s outfits show off both color and texture. Black levels are solid. The fleshtones are reference material.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works just fine. The subtle ambient stuff here is wonderfully placed, allowing you to immerse yourself totally in the show. Dialog is always clear and right where it should be in the mix. There’s a lot of pop here for a television show with plenty of explosions and firefights.
ChuckFu And Dim Sum: (21:53) cast and crew talk about the show’s appeal and evolution. There are some Comic Con clips as well.
The Jeffster Revolution: (10:54) A mockumentary of Jeffster. I have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the whole Jeffster thing.
Chuck Versus The Chuckles: (6:01) Bloopers
Declassified Scenes: Throughout the set there are these deleted scenes.
This was my first opportunity to catch Chuck in high definition Blu-ray. Man, was I missing out. I thought that having these skills would hurt the show. I feared losing that scared and awkward Chuck that most of us have grown to kind of love. I’m happy to report that while Chuck has certainly changed, he hasn’t really changed at all. Adding Morgan to some of the missions helped to keep the show on its original legs, yet allow characters to evolve. Now I just have to talk Warner into getting me the previous season on Blu-ray. “I can be very persuasive.”