Judge Jim Thomas has sold his soul to rock and roll. He's the new road manager for Jeffster.
Our reviews of Chuck: The Complete First Season (published September 10th, 2008), Chuck: The Complete First Season (Blu-Ray) (published November 10th, 2008), Chuck: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray) (published September 20th, 2010), Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (published October 6th, 2011), and Chuck: The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray) (published June 7th, 2012) are also available.
Not Shaken. Just Nerd.
Chuck, the story of an average nerd sucked into a world of guns and intrigue, blew the roof off in its sophomore season. Explosions and fights were bigger, the sexual tension was hotter, the Buy More nerds were nerdier, and the one-liners had people reaching for their remotes to catch the scenes they missed while curled up in a ball laughing, struggling to breathe. Amazingly, Chuck almost didn't survive its second year. Despite surpassing all expectations in turns of sheer entertainment, high production costs coupled with stiff competition left the show on the renewal bubble. A grass roots campaign saw fans rushing to Subway—one of the show's sponsors—the night the season finale aired, and the show got a last-minute reprieve.
Warner Bros. now brings us Chuck: The Complete Second Season, to which we can say nothing more than, Thank you!
Facts of the Case
Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) heads the Nerd Herd at the local Buy More. He was adrift in life, living with his successful older sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and her impossibly awesome boyfriend/fiancé Devon (Ryan McPartlin), until he wound up with the combined intel of the US Government imprinted on his brain. Thanks to an encryption known as the Intersect, when Chuck sees something, it can trigger a "flash," as the Intersect retrieves and correlates the intel. CIA agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin, Serenity) and NSA agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski, The Canyon) are always close, not only to protect Chuck, but to act on Chuck's flashes.
Now Chuck lives a double life, balancing Buy More mediocrity with global espionage, desperately looking to remove the Intersect and return to his nice, boring life. There are only two problems: If he gets rid of the Intersect, he also gets rid of Sarah, and he really doesn't want that to happen. Also, Fulcrum, a rogue organization within the CIA, is searching for the Intersect, and they won't be nearly as understanding as Casey and Sarah. In the midst of all this chaos, Chuck has a quest of his own—Ellie and Devon are engaged, and Chuck has promised Ellie that he would find their long-lost father to walk her down the aisle. Plus, Chuck gets contacted by some loon calling himself Orion, who claims to have invented the Intersect…
You get all 21 episodes (particularly good episodes marked with an asterisk):
• "Chuck Versus the First Date"
• "Chuck Versus the Seduction"
• "Chuck Versus the Break-Up"
• "Chuck Versus the Cougars"
• "Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer"
• "Chuck Versus the Ex"
• "Chuck Versus the Fat Lady"
• "Chuck Versus the Gravitron"
• "Chuck Versus the Sensei"
• "Chuck Versus the DeLorean"
• "Chuck Versus Santa Claus"
• "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension"
• "Chuck Versus the Suburbs"
• "Chuck Versus the Best Friend"
• "Chuck Versus the Beefcake"
• "Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon"
• "Chuck Versus the Predator"
• "Chuck Versus the Broken Heart"
• "Chuck Versus the Dream Job"
• "Chuck Versus the First Kill"
• "Chuck Versus the Colonel"
• "Chuck Versus the Ring"
Chuck's first season was pure, tongue-in-cheek geek wish-fulfillment. Season Two takes everything that made the first season so much fun and cranks it up to eleven. Sometimes twelve. Jacked up action, smoldering romance, family conflicts, employees from hell…we get it all.
You want a dad who's a studly ubergeek? Chuck's dad is none other than Scott Bakula in full Sam Beckett mode, not Jonathan Archer. Bakula even drops an "Ohhh, boy."
Movie references? You get movie and pop culture references that would make Quentin Tarantino weep with envy. John Larroquette guest stars in an homage to My Favorite Year (which happens to be one of My Favorite Movies). There's a truly perverse riff on The Godfather: Part II. And of course, the season finale (I won't spoil it).
All those quarters you wasted in the arcade? Chuck saves the world by playing Missile Command.
Hot babes? Not only do you have Yvonne Strahovsky, Jenny McCarthy, Melinda Clarke, and Jordana Brewster (really, you're doing damned well right there) but you also get Tricia Helfer as a CIA agent…who goes undercover at Devon's bachelor party…as a stripper! ZOMGBBQBRAINASPLODE!!!!
And the cherry perched atop this wondrous geek confection is the sublime majesty that is…Jeffster.
The silliness works because it is wrapped around a warm, gooey center of genuine emotion, such as dealing with an older, successful sister who can't understand why Chuck's not making more out of his life. Or his attempt to find his father so that he can walk Ellie down the aisle. Or the eternally star-crossed romance between Chuck and Sarah, with their chemistry approaching Scarlett O'Hara/Rhett Butler territory. The over the top action makes the mundane reality more real—and more important.
The cast shines, as the characters evolve. Zachary Levi captures a Chuck who is growing a bit more comfortable in his role as intelligence asset. He still sucks as a covert agent, but he realizes the government needs him, and he's not above using that as leverage, usually to help out Ellie. Adam Baldwin steals the show at almost every turn. Not only does he get most of the best lines, but little facets of his character are revealed at the oddest moment, such admitting to being a choirboy with perfect pitch. Yvonne Strahovksi doesn't get too many one-liners, but rather the thankless job of playing straight (wo)man to both Levi and Baldwin. Drop-dead gorgeous, she has the amazing ability to go from incredibly sweet to incredibly deadly in a heartbeat. The supporting players are all strong, with Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay emerging this season as genetic defects Jeff and Lester. The wide array of guest stars acquit themselves well, from seasoned pros like Michael Clarke Duncan and John Larroquette to stunt casting like Nichole Ritchie.
Video is solid, with slightly oversaturated but intentional coloring. The audio is clear and, while the surrounds don't get nearly the workout you might expect, there's great dynamic range and a strong bass. Extras are plentiful, but weak: There are some deleted scenes, none of which really add anything. The bulk are fairly superficial, but there's a decent gag reel, as well as a featurette on the season's action sequence that's almost good—mostly shots of various action sequences, with only a small amount of actual "Here's how we did it" info. This is a show that cries out for a commentary track or two and, since the set was released relatively late, it shouldn't have been a big problem to get a couple of cast members together. And what about a Jeffster music video or two? So many missed opportunities.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The Buy More plots are uneven, occasionally coming across as little more than filler. The entire storyline with the scheming Emmett just doesn't work. And while Jeff and Lester's antics reach epic proportions, a side effect is to marginalize Morgan, who appears almost frighteningly normal in comparison. Almost. Sarah Lancaster is sorely underused, particularly in the first part of the season.
Realizing the show was on the brink of cancellation, producers Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak threw just about everything but the kitchen sink into the latter part of the season. The result was a stunning finale, but that finale places the show squarely in front of the shark tank, and the court fervent hopes the show turns aside.
Regardless of how the Season Three develops, Chuck: The Complete Second Season is awesome.
"Oh, Chuck me." The series is not guilty, but the extras are definitely not awesome.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
• Deleted Scenes
Review content copyright © 2010 Jim Thomas; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.