Chuck: Season 4
DVD | Box Set
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Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season
This high-concept action-comedy series follows Chuck Bartowski (series star ZACHARY LEVI), a regular guy and computer geek turned secret agent. When Chuck unwittingly downloads the Intersect into his head, a database filled with highly classified government information, he becomes the government's most vital secret. Assigned to protect him are the stoic John Casey (series star ADAM BALDWIN), of the NSA, and superspy Sarah Walker (series star YVONNE STRAHOVSKI), the CIA's top agent -- and Chuck's dream girl. Chuck must now confront terrifying assassins and international terrorists, leaving the fate of mankind in his unlikely hands.]]>
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It's still a cool premise, hapless nerd secretly a brilliant spy. And the cast still demonstrates that banging chemistry. But the central tension always was in Chuck and Sarah's relationship. Once they formally became a couple in Season 3, I was happy as pigs in mud but also concerned about where the show would go from here on out, what with that central conflict being resolved. Remember what happened to MOONLIGHTING once David and Maddy hooked up?
But CHUCK isn't all about a nerd's hopeless romantic pinings. And, in the area of wicked espionage and devilish plot twists and just plain exploiting the Intersect, the show exhibits plenty of legs. In Season 3's finale, Chuck had promised his sister that he's out of the spy game for good, and I think we all got a good snicker out of that. Like a phoenix from the ashes or a cockroach shrugging off the holocaust, the Burbank Buy More store is back, rebuilt and revamped and become a full-fledged, covert joint NSA/CIA operation. Because when Chuck Bartowski doesn't come to the spy game, the spy game comes to Chuck Bartowski.
It's all a subterfuge, of course, his fellow spies assuming that Chuck had quit espionage, with Sarah pulling off missions with John Casey while Chuck frets at home. But Chuck is up to something. He's following leads on his long-thought-to-be-dead mother, with Morgan as his only backup. The subterfuge lasts only during the season opener, though. And, somewhere in this first episode, for fun, we get "sexting" between Chuck and Sarah, except that it's really between Morgan and an unwitting Sarah (ugh!). Chuck and Morgan even find time to attend a hand-to-hand combat class in, uh, "strip-kick," a discipline which combines the "self-defense of Krav Maga with the intense core workout of pole dancing." Heh.
The rest of Season 4 tracks Chuck's search for his mom and the agents' ongoing mission to take down Volkoff Industries, a new criminal organization. Just about each episode explores a facet of Chuck and Sarah's relationship, ranging from their first fight as a couple to their inability to air out their feelings to why Sarah refuses to bring personal mementos with her on missions. But the show doesn't neglect its other characters, whether it's John Casey's own relationship with his daughter or Awesome and Ellie's pregnancy or Morgan's gradual inclusion into the inner circle (Morgan more or less worms his way in).
Viewing CHUCK is like going to fan boy heaven. It's a big get, casting Linda Hamilton as Chuck's mom. Another nice conceit is that the new BuyMore regularly rotates a roster of agents whose name tag is always "Greta." For the first few episodes, each week unveiled a new star cameo. So we see "Greta" being played by the likes of geek goddess Olivia Munn, Summer Glau, and even by the Old Spice guy. For villains, we get familiar sorts like Timothy Dalton, Lou Ferrigno, Richard Chamberlain, and Dolph Lundgren (who even quotes his famous Ivan Drago line).
Another thing I love about CHUCK is that it never hesitates to upend the status quo. I love the unpredictability of the episodes. The characters evolve (well, maybe not Jeffster), and, as for Chuck's mom, for plenty of episodes, I wasn't entirely certain which side she'd fall on. At this stage, the challenge is how to keep Chuck Bartowski a total badasss on the field while still retaining his nerd creds. Thank goodness you can't totally shed your neuroses. I guess if you're a sorry bloke what happened to land a smoking hot girlfriend, chances are there's a part of you that'll always be insecure. Except that, lately, Chuck's development hasn't been as arrested.
Just about each episode is terrific, but I did like some better than others, and here's a SPOILERS alert. In "Chuck Vs. The Cat Squad," Chuck reunites Sarah with her old spy team. I love "Chuck Vs. Phase Three" because it reaffirms Sarah Walker's badassery. I love that a legend builds around Sarah as she carves a swath thru the jungles of Southeast Asia, beating up on guy after guy in her quest to find an Intersect-less Chuck. "Chuck Vs. The Muuurder" challenges Chuck's leadership skills when he's put in charge of a crucial mission, and then a murder mystery surfaces. And in "Chuck Vs. The Wedding Planner," Chuck and Sarah are scammed out of their wedding money and Sarah reluctantly goes to her con man dad to get the money back.
Despite mad support from its ardent fans, CHUCK, each season, has been on the brink of cancellation, so it's amazing and really gratifying that it's lasted this long. And, dammit, you know what, I take back what I said earlier. This show isn't in danger of growing stale. The stories are too inventive, the cast is too good, the humor too water cooler, and the hook simply too irresistible. Hell yes to Season 5. That new car smell forever!!
This DVD set comes with 5 discs with the following bonus stuff:
- 18 Declassified Scenes (also known as Deleted/Extended Scenes)
- "Buy Hard: The Jeff & Lester Story: The Chronicle of Their Quest for an Elusive Video Game" - Three months on the run after their perceived crime of arson at the Buy More, Jeff and Lester re-enter society in search of the new Halo Reach game - this mini-episode is told in 5 parts (totaling 00:13:25 minutes long)
- "Chuck versus Directing: Zachary Levi Takes Charge" - follow Zachary Levi as he directs the episode "Chuck Vs. the Leftovers," and also meet his film crew (00:13:26 minutes)
- "Spying on the Cast: Operation Gomez" - goofing around with Joshua Gomez as he shows off his newfound spy skills, including installing a hidden toilet cam in Yvonne Strahovski's bathroom (00:10:00 minutes)
- Gag Reel (00:04:45 minutes)
My whole family loves chuck our only disappointment was how they ended it. Chuck and Sarah should of gone if into the SUNSET as a happy married couple. Where a Nerd can have it all a hot wife money, career, and a nice car and a sister to die for......
When we last left our characters, we were watching the Buy More (think Best Buy clone) going up in flames. Meanwhile, Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) was promising his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) that he would give up the dangerous world of spying.
The season four premier picks up several months later. Chuck and his best friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez) are conducting a secret mission of their own. They are attempting to use clues left behind by Chuck's dad to find Chuck's mom, a woman who disappeared 20 years ago. When it turns out that Chuck's former government handers Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and John Casey (Adam Baldwin) are on the same hunt, Chuck goes back to work for the CIA.
Meanwhile, the CIA rebuilds the Buy More as a continued cover for their Southern California base and giving the old Buy More gang their old jobs back in the process. Morgan begins dating Casey's daughter. Ellie starts investigating her family history, and she and husband Devon (Ryan McPartlin) announce they are expecting. Plus Chuck and Sarah's relationship continues to build as they work through various issues.
But that's nothing compared to what happens when Chuck actually tracks down his mother Mary (recurring guest star Linda Hamilton) who is working for the Russian Alexei Volkoff (recurring guest star Timothy Dalton). Can she be trusted? Or is Chuck about to be hurt worse for having tracked her down?
As the season unfolded, I tuned in every week and enjoyed what I saw, but something felt like it was missing. It was an episode late in the season coupled with a conversation with my brother and sister-in-law that made me realize what it was. The first two seasons had a sense of fun and wonder about them. There were lots of laughs and fun. This season was just a bit too serious. Yes, there were the random fun episodes, but most of the storyline involving Volkoff was very serious. Granted, each episode still has some good laughs, but the show lost the sense of fun it had at the beginning.
That's not to say this wasn't worth watching. The twists to the story were interesting, and I spent much of the season wondering exactly which side Mary was really on. While the ending of the Volkoff saga seemed a little forced and unbelievable, I did find it ultimately satisfying.
And there are some fun sub-plots to the season. Probably my favorite involves Morgan and Casey. The no-nonsense NSA agent has little patience for Chuck's bumbling best friend, and the fact that they have to work together on missions is nothing compared to when he realizes that Morgan is dating his daughter. Those moments are priceless.
Not quite as fun as they used to be are Jeff (Scott Krinsky), Lester (Vik Sahay), and Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence), the Buy More workers who actually have names. They haven't really developed much in a couple of seasons now, and as a result, their sub-plots don't provide the comedy they once did.
Speaking of developing, I felt the writers and producers did a good job of developing Chuck and Sarah's relationship. They have managed to avoid the curse of killing a show when you get the main couple together by developing their relationship and giving them realistic things they need to work on. It's interesting watching it develop, and I like that.
As always with this show, the acting is top notch. From everything I've heard, the cast loves working together, and it shows in the chemistry they have on screen. They also know their characters, and their portrayals are flawless. In addition to the guest stars I already mentions (who are both great), Robert Englund stops by for the Halloween episode as a man who has developed a toxin to give people nightmares. Obvious casting? Yes, but it's also lots of fun.
As with last season, the show was originally renewed for 13 episodes and then picked up for a back 11. That means that the first 13 episodes tell their own story with a second story springing off that one in the second half. Even the second half of the season reveals some secrets about the Bartowski family legacy.
It also means that this season set includes 24 episodes of the show in original wide screen and full surround. In addition to the gag reel and deleted scenes, there's a featurette about Zachary Levi stepping behind the camera to direct the Thanksgiving episode as well as a collection of Webisodes featuring Jeff and Lester's quest for a video game. Finally, the Blu-ray set (it comes on DVD or Blu-ray) contains an interacting Chuckapedia.
While I missed the lighter tone of earlier seasons, I still enjoyed season four of Chuck. The characters are still endearing and the storylines worth watching. If you haven't caught all of season four, fix that today.