HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Chuck: The Complete Third Season

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Cameron Yee, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Chuck: The Complete Third Season
    Release Date: Available now
    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Packaging/Materials: Four-disc Blu-ray case
    Year: 2009-2010
    Rating: NR
    Running Time: 13:37:00
    MSRP: $69.97






     

    THE FEATURE

    SPECIAL FEATURES



    Video

    1080p high definition 16x9 1.78:1

    High definition



    Audio

    Dolby Digital: English 5.1

    Stereo



    Subtitles

    English SDH, Spanish, French, Dutch

    N/A






    The Season: 3.5/5
    Newly empowered by the Intersect 2.0, which adds deadly (and sorely needed) combat skills to massive amounts of espionage data, Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) decides the spy game is where he wants to be. But it means sacrificing his relationship with Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), who - weary of the personal sacrifices she's made in order to be an operative - is partial to leaving behind the life Chuck ultimately chooses to embrace. Wanting to be a spy is different than being one, however, and Chuck must prove he is capable of making crucial, life-or-death decisions in the field. With his personal "no kill" policy, his future in espionage seems questionable, but no-nonsense operative Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh), tasked to head up the take down of the Ring, could prove critical in ushering Chuck into official spyhood. If only Chuck can get past Shaw's burgeoning romance with Sarah...

    Meanwhile, Devon (Ryan McPartlin) and Ellie (Sarah Lancaster), seeing Chuck's growing independence, decide to join Doctors Without Borders. For Devon, who is privy to Chuck's second life and is becoming increasingly paranoid about their safety, leaving the country will provide some needed peace of mind. Morgan (Joshua Gomez) has no such problems though, relishing every moment of the covert from the moment Chuck decides it's time to tell him. Of course the rest of the Buy More crew remain blissfully unaware, and continue their pursuit of the trivial and ridiculous. For a time even John Casey (Adam Baldwin) joins their fold, though more pressing matters - like reclaiming the job he loves after an unexpected ousting - restore his focus.

    As ever, Chuck's greatest challenge will be keeping his spy life secret and his loved ones safe from harm. Though a key operation will lead to the capture of the Ring Director, the organization will be far from destroyed. And with the knowledge of Chuck's identity and what he holds in his head, the Ring will be pressing against his every relationship and emotional connection to get what they want. But the biggest surprise will be who they recruit to do the dirty work.

    Initially slated for a 13-episode season, the third season of "Chuck" wound up going as far as 19. Fans undoubtedly appreciated seeing more of their favorite geek spy, but more is not always better. Though the 13th episode didn't comprehensively resolve every character's arc, it did provide a satisfying conclusion to the most critical of elements, namely Chuck's development as an operative, Sarah's misgivings about the man he was becoming, and ultimately their ability to be a couple. The subsequent episodes, while providing the same solid humor, additional character backstory and screen time for the supporting players, failed to provide a convincing ultimate villain. Though not a deal breaker, it does tend to color the genuinely inspired and heartfelt moments in the final episodes as things brought about through contrivance. With the fourth season facing a similar, initial 13-episode order, here's hoping the same mistake won't happen again should the season be extended again.

    "Chuck: The Complete Third Season" on Blu-ray includes all 19 episodes that aired on NBC in 2009 and 2010. The fourth season of "Chuck" is scheduled to premiere September 20, 2010 at 8/7c.

    Video Quality: 3/5
    The series episodes are framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with VC-1 codec. Black levels appear solid and deep, though contrast can be problematic at both ends of the spectrum, exhibiting compression in both highlights and shadows. Fine object detail is similarly limited, even in close ups, and overall image softness is a pretty common occurrence. The often-visible grain structure is itself well-defined, however, and, though rare, there are instances where the detail can be quite satisfying. Color rendition is probably the most consistent aspect of the transfer - flesh tones tending to be warm, but without oversaturation, and colors in general showing good depth and fidelity. To my recollection, the original high definition broadcasts exhibited similar characteristics, making me suspect the presentation on Blu-ray is still superior, though certainly not as much as one would hope.

    Audio Quality: 3.5/5
    Center channel dialogue in the 640 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is consistently clear and detailed. Surround activity is often in service to the show's music cues. Ambient and directional effects are present during action sequences and the ubiquitous Intersect flash, but can be a little blunt in the execution (though appropriately balanced in the staging). Bass response is deep and clean with explosions and musical bass hits. Overall the track shows good range and fidelity, even though it is sometimes functional in nature and not always very subtle (which I suppose is appropriate given the show).

    Special Features: 2.5/5
    Though not providing much in the way of the depth, the extras are at least consistently entertaining.

    Chuck Fu and Dim Sum (21:53, HD): Provides a recap of the season, character arcs, and moments from the cast's appearance at Comic Con.

    The Jeffster Revolution (10:54, HD): Jeff and Lester talk about what inspires and motivates them in this mockumentary.

    Gag Reel (6:00, SD)

    Deleted Scenes: Scenes from 12 episodes, totaling over 20 minutes, are spread across the first three discs in the set. All are presented in high definition with lossy stereo sound.

    • Episode 1 (1:34): Emmett kicks Morgan out of the Buy More.

    • Episode 4 (1:01): Chuck objects to the plans.

    • Episode 5 (3:07): Mission briefing; checking out Shaw.

    • Episode 9 (2:47): Morgan asks Chuck about Hannah; Chuck confides in Casey.

    • Episode 10 (1:57): Morgan and Devon plan; Morgan listens to Chuck's problems.

    • Episode 11 (3:51): Devon meditates; Casey advises Devon.

    • Episode 12 (1:57): Chuck says goodbye; Chuck returns.

    • Episode 13 (1:49): Shaw and Sarah make a discovery; Casey catches a shoplifter.

    • Episode 14 (:51): Jeff and Lester console Ellie.

    • Episode 15 (:18): Chuck and Sarah stall.

    • Episode 16 (1:05): Morgan pleads with Sarah to save Chuck.

    • Episode 17 (1:00): Chuck reassures Sarah.



    Recap
    The Season: 3.5/5
    Video Quality: 3/5
    Audio Quality: 3.5/5
    Special Features: 2.5/5
    Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5

    An enjoyable NBC action-comedy series falters a bit in its final episodes, but holds together on the strength of its cast. The presentation on Blu-ray is consistent with past seasons with average video, decent audio, and a slim - though entertaining - set of extras. Though overall not as strong as previous season releases, fans should not have any problems adding "Chuck: The Complete Third Season" to their collections.
     

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