Thursday, May 30, 2013

TV on DVD Review: Chuck - Season 3

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Excellent acting and writing bring great characters and stories to life
Cons: A tad more serious than previous seasons
The Bottom Line:
Chuck grows up a bit
So this season's less funny
But still fun to watch

Chuck Versus Spyhood

With all the TV I watch, there is a clear choice for favorite TV show - Chuck.  Although it was just a bit more serious than the previous seasons, the third season was just as awesome as the first two.

The third season actually picks up a few months after the conclusion of season two.  Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) has just returned to Burbank after some training that will help him use the enhanced features he got by downloading the intersect 2.0 into his brain.  Now, instead of just flashing on information, he can also flash on skills needed like hand to hand fighting or laser avoiding.  However, his emotions make these new upgrades glitchy, so his skills can come and go at the most inopportune times.

Meanwhile, his CIA handler Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) is back in town to rejoin the team despite the fact that Chuck broke her heart.  NSA handler John Casey (Adam Baldwin) is thrilled that with each new mission, Chuck seems to be becoming a better spy.  Sarah, on the other hand, is watching the man she fell in love with slip away behind the new spy Chuck.

And on the home front?  Chuck's best friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez) and Chuck become roommates.  Chuck's sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) gets a fellowship she wants while Ellie's husband Devon, aka Captain Awesome, (Ryan McPartlin) tries to figure out a way to get Ellie out of the dangerous world that Chuck inhabits.  The gang at the Buy More is still there to provide some comedy.  And we finally learn something that Captain Awesome isn't awesome at.

Underneath all this is a new group out to get the Intersect and steal all the secrets locked away in Chuck's mind.  Can the group bring them down while keeping Chuck's true identity a secret?

Why do I love the show?  Because it finds the right balance between comedy and drama.  The show takes itself seriously enough that we care for the characters and are concerned when they are in danger.  But the characters are just as likely to get out of danger by some crazy coincidence as they are by some great bit of action.  It's that unpredictability and humor that keep me loving every minute.

Plus there are the great characters.  Yes, the Nerds at the Buy More (think a Best Buy clone) are turning into one note characters and losing some of their humor this year.  But the rest of the characters are still very real, deep characters that we truly do care about.  I want to spend time with these guys, and above all, I want to see them happy.  The guest cast rounds out and compliments the great main characters.  Notable guest stars this season include Kristin Kreuk of Smallville, Brandon Routh from Superman Returns, and Scott Bakula. 

The show was originally renewed for a thirteen episode third season which was extended to nineteen episodes the rest of NBC's schedule did poorly in the ratings.  As a result, we get two story arcs that are sort of connected.  It's not ideal, but it does work and all the episodes are extremely entertaining.

This show is the perfect marriage of writing and acting.  There are many times where we know exactly what a character is thinking or feeling just by a look on their face.  You can't pull that off without both.  It does help that this is season three, so we know the characters.  But I still maintain that either poor writing or acting would produce laughable results instead of truly touching moments that reveal quite a bit about the characters.

That does bring me back to what I mentioned at the very beginning.  This season was much more serious than the first two.  Don't get me wrong, there were still some great comedic moments.  But they weren't as plentiful as the themes of the year grew more serious.  Some fans didn't like that; I found it to be a very nice maturing that felt right.  If they lighten things up again, I won't complain any, but for this season, it worked.

And I haven't even talked about the stunts yet.  This show is still an action show, and it manages to produce some nice sequences.  They aren't quite feature fill elaborate, but they are quite fun for TV.

All 19 episodes of season three are included in this boxed set.  We don't get any commentaries, but we do get deleted scenes and bloopers.  There's also a featurette with interviews about this season of the show and a mockumentary on Jeffster, the fake band two of the characters have.  It could have more special features, but the episodes themselves more than make up for this lack.

Slightly more serious or not, Chuck is still the best thing on TV right now.  If you haven't watched this show yet, you are in for a real treat.  And if you already like the show, you'll be thrilled to have season three at your fingertips anytime you want it.

Season 3 Episodes:
1. Chuck Versus the Pink Slip
2. Chuck Versus the Three Words
3. Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte
4. Chuck Versus Operation Awesome
5. Chuck Versus First Class
6. Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler
7. Chuck Versus the Mask
8. Chuck Versus the Fake Name
9. Chuck Versus the Beard
10. Chuck Versus the Tic Tac
11. Chuck Versus the Final Exam
12. Chuck Versus the American Hero
13. Chuck Versus the Other Guy
14. Chuck Versus the Honeymooners
15. Chuck Versus the Role Models
16. Chuck Versus the Tooth
17. Chuck Versus the Living Dead
18. Chuck Versus the Subway
19. Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II

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