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4.6 out of 5 stars
Chuck: Season 1 [Blu-ray]
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89 of 98 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
NBC's CHUCK is such a welcome surprise and one of the best and funniest TV shows I've seen in a while, something which normally is an omen for immediate cancellation (but, thankfully, NBC picked it up for the full season). CHUCK achieves that heady mix of humor, action, espionage, and even a dash of romance (or pining, to be more exact). And it'll have you rooting for the nerd hero Chuck Bartowski, the physically hapless but nonetheless invaluable new member of the U.S. secret agent fraternity. Whereas, before, Chuck was someone who for thrills lived life vicariously thru video games and films, he's all of a sudden forced to cope with experiencing the very intense real thing.

Several SPOILERS follow.

The 411 on the premise and plot: A rogue CIA agent, just before being killed, downloads a wealth of top secret government files into the brain of his old college roommate Chuck Bartowski, a seemingly disastrous choice at first blush. Chuck is a social misfit, a computer geek who toils at the Nerd Herd electronics department of the Buy More supermarket. His support system consists of his best bud Morgan, who's even more of a loser than Chuck, and Chuck's lovely, protective sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster), who is perpetually concerned for him and his lack of a social life. That Chuck lives with Ellie and her laid back boyfriend, Captain Awesome, doesn't exactly win him points with the cool set. But, for Chuck, things are about to change.

Chuck meets Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), who seems to really like him. But Sarah is really a CIA agent sent to wrest the stolen intel from him. Finding out that the top secret data is imbedded in his noggin, she is then assigned to keep tabs on him. To do so, Sarah works at Wienerlicious and poses as Chuck's chica. Meanwhile, the NSA trots out its top operative, the no-nonsense John Casey (the awesome Adam Baldwin), who as cover hires on as a Buy More sales clerk.

Nowadays, danger and intrigue lurk at every corner for Chuck Bartowski, who finds himself leading a double life and is now sometimes referred to as the Intersect (mostly by Casey). He speedily proves his value when the data in his brain enables him to put two and two together and uncover an assassination attempt. Soon, he's tangling with ninjas, shadowy agents, terrorists, and bombs - and that's just in the first episode. Further shows would unveil even greater peril and more mystery. Seeds of distrust are sown as Chuck also struggles with the constant hedging and fabrication brought on by his CIA and NSA minders. More importantly, despite obstacles put up by his nemesis, the evil Asian dude Harold Tang (okay, he's not really evil...but he's bald), Chuck's trying out for the assistant manager gig at the Buy More. Good luck, Chuck.

End SPOILERS.

CHUCK is a consistently funny, funny show doubling as a straight-up spy thriller. There are plenty of slick, potent action sequences, but the heart of the series is the comic fish-out-of-water premise of the geek caught in serious cloak-and-dagger environs. The show provides a steady dosage of nerd/slacker humor which always has me smiling for the duration of the episodes. And, instead of Chuck suddenly developing kung fu skills, the series makes sure that Chuck remains inept and a bit cowardly (Chuck would prefer to refer to it as being "prudent"). Zachary Levi as Chuck is wonderfully straight-faced yet has that comic timing down pat. He's very sympathetic as a guy whose big heart is shyly on his sleeve.

Which leads us to another focal point of the show: Chuck's tentative relationship with the beautiful Sarah, who as a spy is forever on her guard and who's still grieving over her recent past with a fellow agent. But there's a connection between her and our favorite Nerd Herder, as Sarah realizes that Chuck really is a most decent dude. But only time will tell if it pans out. Australian Yvonne Strahovski is well cast as the lethal and accomplished secret agent, who can kick enemy agent heinie even a she dances sensuously with a clueless partner (yes, that would be Chuck). Yet Strahovski, when called for, can lend a torn, vulnerable air to her calculating superspy (check out "Chuck versus the Nemesis" to see just how conflicted she becomes). And, holy ministrone, she's hot! On the other hand, I don't think the looming Adam Baldwin is hot, but he's one of my favorite dudes to watch on TV. Fans of Joss Whedon will remember Baldwin from his memorable recurring roles in ANGEL and FIREFLY. Here, he makes for an intimidating sales clerk and government spy.

I am currently in solid geek heaven with CHUCK. Here's hoping NBC continues to support this show for a busload of seasons. Here's to Chuck (and friends) waging war against irate Buy More patrons, staving off calculating co-workers, and also fending off some of the most diabolical enemies of America, mom, and apple pie. And all that while shouldering the stigma of a dead-end job. Way to go, Chuck!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Chuck Bartowski's (Zachary Levi) life was going no where fast. True, he is head of the Nerd Herd at his local Buy More. But he lives with his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and her boyfriend Devon (aka Captain Awesome, played by Ryan McPartlin). His best friend is Morgan (Joshua Gomez), a fellow nerd who also works at Buy More.

But things change drastically when Chuck gets an e-mail from former friend Bryce Larkin. The e-mail contains all the files of the intersect, the complete intelligence files of both the CIA and the NSA. And, to make things more exciting, Bryce has destroyed the original files.

All the information gets downloaded into Chuck's brain, making him a highly valuable government secret. So valuable that he has two bodyguards, Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski), a CIA agent who pretends to be Chuck's girlfriend, and John Casey (Adam Baldwin), a NSA who moves in next door to Chuck and takes a job at Buy More.

Whenever Chuck sees something from the intersect, he flashes on more information. Unfortunately, these flashes are at random and uncontrollable. And Los Angeles seems to be a hot bed of activity. Even with two agents guarding him, Chuck finds himself in over his head with his new life as a spy. Can he survive and keep his secret?

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking. The premise sounds unbelievable. And if you stop and think about it, it is. Fortunately, the show never gives you time to think. They cram everything into these episodes. There's action and intrigue, developing storylines involving the intersect and Chuck's past, romance with Sarah that she is not willing to admit is there, and plenty of laughs. Many of the laughs come from the sub-plots focused on the Buy More. But we also get laughs from Chuck's reaction to his new world.

But in case this all sounds disjointed, let me assure you it works beautifully. Everything is balanced and blended so that it seamlessly flows from one event to the next. And the characters are outstanding. Honestly, that is what holds all of this together. Even gruff Casey is fun when it comes down to it.

If, by some chance, you missed this show when it premiered last fall, correct that now. You'll be hooked by the time the second episode is over and watching them as fast as you can. Personally, I can hardly wait for season 2 to start.
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52 of 61 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
CHUCK did the one thing that any good series needs to do: it managed to get better as it went along. To enjoy it one has to be able to suspend quite a bit of disbelief. One has to imagine it somehow possible for someone to have the entire contents of the CIA computer database downloaded into the brain of a single human being. One further has to imagine that this person would "flash" on seeing people, objects, names, or whatever, recognizing a series of connections that would escape any other person. Finally, you have to accept that this individual would continue to work in their poorly paid job at Buy More while his advisors from the CIA and the NSA would work either alongside him in Buy More or nearby in a wiener fast foot joint. A plausible premise? Of course not! But if you cut it a lot of slack it provides one heck of a fun ride.

Why would one cut it slack? Well, first and foremost because Zachary Levi is delightful in the title role. As Chuck, Levi is able to combine basic good looks with convincing nerdiness to a degree not often achieved on television. I've read that series creator Josh Schwartz originally offered the role to Adam Brody, with whom he had worked on his previous show THE O.C. I've also read that Brody was offered the lead in the extraordinarily great new series PUSHING DAISIES. I loved Brody on THE O.C. as Seth Cohen, but I think both shows are probably better off with Zachary Levi and Lee Pace.

A second major reason to cut CHUCK some slack is the wonderful Australian import Yvonne Strahovski, who instantly became not only one of the most attractive women on American TV as well as one of the best female action heroes. Her Sarah and Chuck have great chemistry and as we await the start of Season Two next fall (CHUCK has been renewed, but there will be no more new episodes for Season One) one of the big questions is how things will progress with them. I also enjoyed Adam Baldwin (probably best known as "Jayne" on FIREFLY) as John Casey, though I think they need to give his character some depth. In Season One he was way too much of a one-dimensional character. It wasn't anything that Baldwin did; it was just the way his character was written. Now, looking around on boards I know that a lot of people loved Joshua Gomez as Chuck's best friend Morgan, but I found him an unending source of irritating distraction. If there is one character on TV that I would love to see disappear from any show, for me it would be Morgan on CHUCK. His and Chuck's relationship doesn't seem to be coded as gay in any traditional sense, but you'd swear that Morgan wants to marry Chuck. He is just that obsessed.

I liked that the show managed to evolve and develop as it went along. When it first started off I was afraid that it had no potential for such development, that it was going to degenerate merely to the "flash of the week" and no more.

2007-2008 has to be counted a triumph for Josh Schwartz. Though FOX had cancelled THE O.C. the previous year (actually, I think they cancelled it in their minds after the absolutely abysmal Season Three, but let it go on to a more natural conclusion). But he rebounded hugely with CHUCK and GOSSIP GIRL, two of the better shows of the new television series. He even managed some good natured self-mockery as two clerks at Buy More play a game where they click to new TV shows on cable and try to recognize both the show and season. As they click one of the lands on THE O.C. and says some funny things about it. And Schwartz brought over Summer herself from THE O.C., Rachel Bilson, for a couple of episodes.

I still have some doubts about how much long term potential this series has. But I thought that after the pilot and was surprised that they managed to keep it fresh through the entire first season. It is unfortunate that we didn't get a full slate of episodes due to the strike, but at least it will be back in the fall.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I love this show. It is so fun to watch. There is romance. There is action. There is comedy. The best thing about his show is that there are new hot chicks every other episodes or so. And Adam Bladwin is so funny.

The package comes with 3 discs, a little insert that lists the episodes on the discs, and has some photos. The discs also come with subtitles with white thin letters rather than the usual black bold right-in-your-face letters. The white subtitles are better IMO.

However, the picture is very grainy. The PQ is not consistent through out the same episode. One scene can be sharp even it is at night. In another scene, it can be very grainy even the scene is in board daylight. It is like they use the wrong ISO on the camera to shoot the scenes. It is like shooting a bunch of pictures with a point-and-shoot camera using 800 ISO. And then shooting another bunch of pictures using 100 ISO. And then you mix up the pictures and show them to your friends.

Beside this, this is a must have for any couch potato. 5 stars from me.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2009
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
This is strictly a review of the Blu-ray product and not how awesome the show is, which it is.

(My setup, Panasonic 42" Viera Plasma and PS3)

The picture quality from episode to episode is very inconsistent quality wise. The pilot episode is HD goodness, but many of the regular episodes are some of the worst HD quality I have seen so far come out on blu-ray for a TV show. Those episode look more like upscan SD version. One major problem with the picture quality is the grain, in one episode it is SO bad its impossible to ignore. I can't in all honesty recommend purchasing this product. You are better off getting the DVD instead and not being doped into buying a HD product that doesn't really provide consistent or real HD quality.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2008
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Sure the grain is disappointing but it was there in the original HD broadcasts so it wasn't a suprise. I've watched both regular DVD and Blu-ray. I prefer the extra detail on the Blu-ray.

If you liked Spies Like Us, you'll love Chuck. The fast paced action, comedy and romance make this show an all-time favorite.

I'll be standing in line to get the season 2 boxed set.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2009
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I think Chuck is one of the best TV shows ever and I love having season 1 on blu-ray, but the quality of the picture is quite grainy at times... So don't expect it to be an amazing looking blu-ray experience... the show looks better on my DVR'd episodes at 1080i playing from my motorola cable box (comcast) with component cables then it does playing from the blu-ray disks on my Sony BDP350 via HDMI.. so just letting that be known.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2009
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
I got the Blu-ray so I could enjoy this great show in all it's HD glory.
Boy am I disappointed. Should have just bought the dvd and had it upscaled.
The picture quality is lacking, very grainy.

Great show, mediocre blu-ray set.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2007
Verified Purchase
I downloaded the Pilot for the simple reason that we had just gotten the TiVo all hooked up and registered and, at the time, the episode was free. Well, okay, it also helped that I wanted to say I'd seen it first, and I wanted to see how this whole downloadable TV thing worked.

I had seen previews for Chuck. The network had hyped it up so much, it was impossible to have missed it, but the previews did not impress me. I had no expectation of this show. I was thinking I would get halfway through the Pilot and then decide to watch something else.

The promos were wrong, wrong, wrong. They totally failed to highlight all of the wonderful things about this show -- about this episode! It was smart and funny, with good performances and writing and directing, but the thing that most blew me away was the lighting and color.

The DOP for Chuck deserves some serious recognition. The show looks simply incredible. It's so bright, it's so colorful, and everything is lit in such a way that it reads beautifully on the screen. I probably got lost in just oohing and ahhing at the technical accomplishment of making a show this bright look this good a bit too much. Normally, shows seem to tend more towards dark, it seems to be somewhat easier to make dark look good.

I wasn't too distracted by the shininess -- I still had enough presence of mind to admire the characters and story. Chuck is endearing, very human, and the cast of crazy characters around him only serve to underscore how much of a person Chuck is, a person like any of us. It's probably the show's strongest selling point (aside from the shiny). Chuck may be in a world far beyond ours, but we can picture ourselves in his place.

Plus, the show is funny, and I laughed. It's well worth watching every week.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2008
Format: Blu-ray
I'll make this short and sweet. In my opinion, Chuck is one of the best TV series on the air right now. That is why I bought the Blu-ray version on the day it became available for sale. Unfortunately, as suggested by many reviews out on the internet, the quality of the video transfer is awful- there is an overwhelming amount of grain (which is especially noticeable during bright scenes, but also detectable during the darker sequences), and sometimes the images are just too bright and look overexposed. It's hard to imagine the Warner Home Entertainment would allow this to happen, especially considering that fans are paying for Blu-ray prices on a truncated season. As much as I enjoy the show, I have to recommend people to buy the regular DVD version (which costs, at the time of writing, $10 less than the Blu-ray version).
The 2nd season of Chuck is turning to be equally entertaining, and I look forward to owning that when it's available. However, I am going to be much more careful about which version I buy- and checking out the reviews first.
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