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).
While the second season was enjoyable, it was a little difficult to see where the series would go from there. The series was nearly canceled after the second season, but a massive wave of support from fans and a However, the series did a nice job giving itself a bit of a reboot: 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.
However, with new powers comes some tough decisions. Having fallen for Sarah (and with Sarah finding herself falling for Chuck), the two have to make choices in order to continue their relationship. With Chuck now trying to become a spy, he continues to move further and further away from the simpler, kinder person that Sarah fell for in the first place. The season does a nice job diving its time between continued action and mystery (as Chuck has to face off against a new threat - the Ring) and the development of these engaging characters and their relationships.
I'd never gotten into the series during its first season run, but found it quite entertaining while watching it on the first and second DVD sets. Levi is terrific as Chuck, a likable underachiever who's easy to root for earlier in the show's run who now shows a completely different side. He doesn't overplay the character - someone else could have easily made a nerd who finds himself in the midst of government spies too goofy in a comedy like this - and manages both laughs and good chemistry with Strahovski.
Strahovski is also still marvelous in the role, able to be both convincingly soft in her scenes with Chuck and equally convincing playing an intense agent in the action sequences. Lancaster, Baldwin and Grimes also offer very good supporting performances. While the material is enjoyable, the fact that the show has an excellent ensemble cast helps matters further. With what appears to be a sizable budget, the series also manages some exciting and well-choreographed action sequences.
Overall, "Chuck" remains a fast-paced and highly entertaining series, with great performances and a solid mixture of action and comedy.
• Season 3
36 3-01 301 10/Jan/10 Chuck Versus the Pink Slip
37 3-02 302 10/Jan/10 Chuck Versus the Three Words
38 3-03 303 11/Jan/10 Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte
39 3-04 18/Jan/10 Chuck Versus Operation Awesome
40 3-05 305 25/Jan/10 Chuck Versus First Class
41 3-06 306 01/Feb/10 Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler
42 3-07 307 08/Feb/10 Chuck Versus the Mask
43 3-08 308 01/Mar/10 Chuck Versus the Fake Name
44 3-09 309 08/Mar/10 Chuck Versus the Beard
45 3-10 15/Mar/10 Chuck Versus the Tic Tac
46 3-11 22/Mar/10 Chuck Versus the Final Exam
47 3-12 312 29/Mar/10 Chuck Versus the American Hero
48 3-13 05/Apr/10 Chuck Versus the Other Guy
49 3-14 26/Apr/10 Chuck Versus the Honeymooners
50 3-15 03/May/10 Chuck Versus the Role Models
51 3-16 10/May/10 Chuck Versus the Tooth
52 3-17 17/May/10 Chuck Versus the Living Dead
53 3-18 24/May/10 Chuck Versus the Subway
54 3-19 24/May/10 Chuck Versus the Ring: Part 2
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: Deleted scenes, "Chuck-Fu and Dim Sum: Becoming a Spy Guy" featurette and "The Jeffster Revolution: the Definitive Mockumentary" and a gag reel.
Final Thoughts: "Chuck" switches things up a bit in the third season and the result is a very entertaining effort from the series, with fine writing and solid performances from the excellent ensemble cast. The DVD edition offers good audio/video quality, as well as a few minor supplements. Recommended.