The fifth and final season of NBC's nerd-spy action-comedy comes out strong on Blu-ray with a great presentation and a fine collection of extras that pay a fitting tribute to the show and its cast.
Chuck: The Complete Fifth Season
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray case with slipcover
Running Time: 9:22:23
|THE FEATURE||SPECIAL FEATURES|
|Video||1080p high definition 16x9 1.78:1||High definition|
|Audio||DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1||Stereo|
|Subtitles||English SDH, Spanish, French||Variable|
The Season: 4/5
The NBC action-comedy series "Chuck" has always played a little fast and loose with its stories, taking narrative shortcuts or sacrificing believability for the sake of a grand, emotional gesture. Undeniably, that was a part of the show's charm – its refusal to take the fate of the world stuff too seriously, but then go all-in when it came to things involving family, friendship and romance. Though the show never became over-sweet, its signature flavor of feel-good-action was a difficult sell for the general audience, but one that created a large enough following to produce five seasons and a total of 91 episodes.
In its fifth and final season, the newly wedded Chuck and Sarah (Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski) are trying to make it as independent contractors in the espionage business. Using the resurrected Buy More shop as a cover, Carmichael Industries gets off to a rough start, despite drawing on Chuck and Sarah's wealth of experience, the no-nonsense Col. John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and the freshly Intersect-ed Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez). In fact it's the unexpected transfer of the mind-enhancing software to his longtime BFF that's causing the bulk of Chuck's problems, as he now has to depend on his own wits and abilities to make it in the spy game, rather than rely on the Intersect's high octane brain epiphanies. The Intersect itself also remains a hot commodity within the community, drawing out one baddie after another attempting to make the weapon his own. The battle over it will lead to the Carmichael Team's greatest string of challenges and ultimately the hardest choice Chuck has ever had to make.
Consistent with past practice, the plot in the final episodes often drips with contrivance, situations that can seem like mere set ups to deliver an "end of an era" catharsis for fans. What spares the writers from accusations of pandering is their option to close with the bittersweet, giving the characters a worthy send-off but remaining committed to some not-so-pleasant consequences of previous events and choices. Though some may have preferred an end with less uncertainty, the development gives the show a final dose of respectability that jaded viewers like myself didn't anticipate. The net effect being that, despite a few complaints, "Chuck" is a show that will be missed for both its humor and its heart.
"Chuck: The Complete Fifth Season" on Blu-ray includes all 13 episodes that aired on NBC in 2011 and 2012.
- Chuck Versus the Zoom (43:16)
- Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit (43:17)
- Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips (43:18)
- Chuck Versus the Business Trip (43:17)
- Chuck Versus the Hack Off (43:15)
- Chuck Versus the Curse (43:16)
- Chuck Versus the Santa Suit (43:17)
- Chuck Versus the Baby (43:16)
- Chuck Versus the Kept Man (43:15)
- Chuck Versus Bo (43:15)
- Chuck Versus the Bullet Train (43:12)
- Chuck Versus Sarah (43:17)
- Chuck Versus the Goodbye (44:13)
Video Quality: 4/5
The series episodes are framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with AVC codec. The video quality in earlier season releases had its share of problems, a combination of the show being shot on 16mm film and some limitations in the transfer (though the Blu-ray presentation has always been an improvement on the TV broadcasts). The last couple season sets have shown a noticeable improvement, with fewer instances of contrast blooming and compression artifacts. Indeed the fifth season looks quite good with a healthy grain pattern, consistent contrast and nicely saturated color. Black levels still struggle a bit in the darker environments, but nothing that's egregious. The rendering of fine object detail is also satisfying, though there's still the occasional softness to the image, mostly due to what look like focusing errors. If only the first few seasons looked as nice, though it's unlikely we'll ever see them revisited solely for picture quality improvements.
Audio Quality: 4/5
Finally moving away from high bitrate, but still lossy, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the center channel dialogue in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is consistently clean, clear and detailed. Surround activity is often in service to the show's music cues, with nicely balanced ambient and directional effects showing up for action sequences and the ubiquitous Intersect flash. Low frequency activity is deep and clean with explosions, bass hits in the score, and various ambient effects. Overall the track shows great range and fidelity, even though the mix is sometimes functional in nature and not exactly subtle.
Special Features: 4/5
The extras include a number of interview pieces with the cast and crew, along with the requisite gag reel, audio commentaries, and deleted scenes. Though past seasons were a little thin in the special features department, this time the show receives a proper set of value-added material, giving the show a suitable, and admittedly poignant, sendoff.
Deleted Scenes: Scenes from six episodes are spread across both discs in the set. Each clip is presented in high definition with lossy stereo sound.
- Episode 5: Chuck Versus the Hackoff (:44)
- Episode 7: Chuck Versus the Santa Suit (1:34)
- Episode 8: Chuck Versus the Baby (1:05)
- Episode 9: Chuck Versus the Kept Man (:28)
- Episode 9: Chuck Versus the Kept Man (1:05)
- Episode 10: Chuck Versus Bo (:30)
- Episode 12: Chuck Versus Sarah (1:29)
- Episode 12: Chuck Versus Sarah (:44)
- Episode 12: Chuck Versus Sarah (:43)
- Episode 12: Chuck Versus Sarah (1:26)
UltraViolet Digital Copy: The redemption code for streaming and downloading to compatible devices expires on May 8, 2014.
Sandwiches and Superfans (10:20, HD): Describes the efforts of to keep the show going over the years, from sponsorship by Subway to petitions generated by the show's ardent fan base.
Scoring the World of Chuck (6:10, HD): Composer Tim Jones comments on the work he's done on the show since its first season.
Buy More Commercial: Big Mike (:40, HD): The full TV ad featured in "Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit."
Buy More Commercial: Captain Awesome (:45, HD): The full TV ad featured in "Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit."
Audio Commentaries: Executive Producers Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz and Zachary Levi and Joshua Gomez share their experience filming the last two episodes of the series.
Chuck Versus the Final Episode (14:26, HD): Provides highlights of the momentous and highly emotional shoot for the series finale.
Chuck: The Beginnings (5:26, HD): Cast and crew reflect on their initial impressions of the script and what it was like shooting the pilot.
Chuck: Through the Years (11:16, HD): Cast and crew discuss how the core cast members have grown and developed over the series' five-year run.
Chuck: The Future (4:21, HD): Cast and crew speculate on where they see the characters in five years.
Extended Version of "Chuck Versus the Goodbye" (53:03, HD): Includes approximately nine additional minutes not included in the original broadcast.
Goodbye, Buy More (2:19, HD): Time lapse footage showing the tear down of the Buy More set.
Gag Reel (3:34, HD)
The Season: 4/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 4/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4/5
Warner Home Video delivers a strong audio and video presentation for the final season of NBC's nerd-spy action-comedy, "Chuck." The special features show a significant improvement in quantity and quality compared to the last couple releases, giving the series a worthy tribute for its curtain call. Fans of the show will definitely want to add the set to their TV show library.