“This is not the opening of a TV show. This is real life.”
If you had to describe the fourth season of Chuck in one word it would be Mother. This season Chuck learns that his mother was also a spy and that she didn’t really just abandon her family. She went deep undercover and now may or may not be one of the bad guys. It helps that Momma is played by genera favorite Linda Hamilton who makes some sweet references to her earlier works on Terminator and Beauty And The Beast. The man she went undercover to get was Alexei Volkoff, played by one of my favorite and incredibly underrated James Bonds, Timothy Dalton. This is the story that really dominates the season, but there are some other events of note to be found:
Ellie and Awesome have a baby. Chuck and Sarah are planning to get married, and this really is my least favorite development of the show. There is far more of the emotional stuff which drags down the action in this kind of a series. There’s a reason why shows keep their sexual tension going and the actual characters apart. It added a domestic element that frankly bored me by the end. Chuck loses the Intersect for a time and must learn how to be a spy without it. Morgan is dating Casey’s daughter, and that’s a father you really don’t want to tick off. The CIA has taken over the Buy More and need the old team in order to keep it from looking too perfect.
There is a powerhouse of guest stars for this season that includes: Robert Englund as a mad scientist, Richard Chamberlain, Gary Cole returning as Sarah’s con-man father, Armand Assante back as the dictator, Dolph Lundgren, Lou Ferrigno, and John Larroquette as a suave famous spy.
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 next door to 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 was once managed by Big Mike (Lawrence), who would rather be fishing. Now he’s Morgan’s assistant manager.
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 the earlier 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. There are moments were grain gets quite excessive and I’m not really sure if it’s really grain or digital noise. It pops up from time to time throughout the season.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a step up from earlier releases. 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.
Buy Hard – The Jeff And Lester Story: This series of webisodes join the duo after they’ve burned down the Buy More at the end of season 3. They are on the lamb but want to get their hands on the new Halo game.
Spying On The Cast With Joshua Gomez: (10:05) This is a humorous piece where the actor appears to take security to another level on the set.
Gag Reel: (4:48)
Chuck vs. Directing: (13:29) Zachery Levi directs another episode of the show and you’re invited back stage. Cast and crew comment on the job he does as well as his sister and father.
Declassified Scenes: Throughout the set there are these deleted scenes.
As it stands now, Chuck is about to enter its 5th and expected final year. Without giving it away, there are big changes on tap for the new season, and the show’s entire dynamic will change. It actually looks quite promising if they can keep the Chuck and Sarah marriage from getting in the way. Whatever happens, it will go out a different show than what we saw five years ago. I don’t know about you, but this release has gotten me ready for more. “Who wants to take out some bad guys?”