The mere fact that Chuck was even able to return for a third season was nothing short of a miracle. Though it was a late season arrival, the series managed to kick up nineteen more episodes (thirteen initially then a late addition of six more to tidy up the season) and although it was undoubtedly a rock return for the series, by the time it got over its awkwardness and requisite Subway plugs (although those continued until the end…which I’m honestly fine with, it someone doesn’t feel entirely shoehorned), Chuck was once again a show you could freely enjoy and love. With our title character receiving an upgrade in the brain department, the rest of the series would have to follow suit and as a result many of the missions got even hairier in the series…especially with Chuck trying to keep his secret from seemingly the only person in the show who doesn’t know: his sister.
No more Mr. Nice Spy! Chuck is back and he’s the Chuck you know: the hapless Nerd Herder hopelessly devoted to sexy super spy Sarah. And he’s the Chuck you don’t know: a master martial artist whose brain is locked and loaded with the new Intersect 2.0. How the two Chucks clash, bash and (sometimes) cooperate makes Season Three total, action-packed fun. More new stuff: A dashing rival (Brandon Routh) joins the team, someone from Chuck’s Buy More life discovers his secret and Chuck learns the spy biz can turn the nicest guy dark and dangerous. “For the last two years, we’ve protected Chuck from the world,” the General notes. “But now we have to protect the world from Chuck.”
There were many moments in this third season of Chuck that made me glad that it returned. And then there were many that made me hate the show, such as the consistent and utterly annoying relationship between Chuck and Sarah, which would progress and then hit a brick wall and repeat those steps ad nauseum. Then we got Routh’s character (Shaw) throwing a wrench into it all and causing more mishaps. Then to top it off the writers must’ve looked to the most annoying TV relationship in recent memory, the Clark/Lana relationship from Smallville, as they brought in Kristen Kreuk to balance out Chuck’s mopeyness over Sarah dating Shaw. It worked for awhile, but then right when Chuck started to connect with Kreuk’s character, they tossed her away in probably one of the biggest jerk-moves of the century (“Hey I can’t make it to dinner with your parents and we’re breaking up now bye.”).
Thankfully it seems once the writers wrapped up the thirteen episodes and had a bit of time off, they came back with a much fresher story for the final nine. Shaw was involved once again, but it was revitalized with Chuck and Sarah finally declaring their relationship (the response from the General was very apt). The worries over Chuck becoming too much of heartless spy was washed away and by the end of the mid-season return, the show was given the swift kick in the pants that it needed. While the first thirteen episodes did provide us with Morgan discovering Chuck’s secret (which was also a very positive point in the show), the later half brought back Chuck’s father (although that “governator” plot was kind of meh) as well as revealing his secret to the only other person on the show that mattered. It was a very nice and succinct way to end the season.
Amidst all of the spy/CIA stuff was, of course, the antics at the Buy More. At first I used to hate it whenever the Jeff and Lester scenes would take up precious Chuck time, but this season it really felt like a welcome reprieve from all the drama. It was a very refreshing change of pace to see them joking around and combined with Morgan (and the very brief return of Anna Wu) it was probably one of the most entertaining elements of the season (especially the Jeffster bits…always entertaining). Of course there was also the Ellie/Awesome antics to play around with too, which was fun even if their stay in Africa was incredibly and terribly brief.
The full list of episodes for the season:
Chuck Versus the Pink Slip
Chuck Versus the Three Words
Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte
Chuck Versus Operation Awesome
Chuck Versus First Class
Chuck Versus the Nacho Sampler
Chuck Versus the Mask
Chuck Versus the Fake Name
Chuck Versus the Beard
Chuck Versus the Tic Tac
Chuck Versus the Final Exam
Chuck Versus the American Hero
Chuck Versus the Other Guy
Chuck Versus the Honeymooners
Chuck Versus the Role Models
Chuck Versus the Tooth
Chuck Versus the Living Dead
Chuck Versus the Subway
Chuck Versus the Ring: Part II
There were definitely some rocky episodes in the season, but overall it’s still Recommended for fans. Newcomers will want to keep it at a rental just because it’s such a rollercoaster season in terms of quality. For me, however, it was still always funning and entertaining—my two favorite genres are action and comedy and when they can marry the two like they do with Chuck, there’s nothing better.
Chuck’s third season arrives on Blu-ray in a rather disappointing way: few extras, although it is packaged in a very nice cardboard slipcase with a very nicely done reflective foil finishing. Inside the slipcase is a case that houses the discs for the set, all housed in the Viva Multi-Pak style housing. Disc art is simple and the menus are easy to navigate.
Video arrives in the form of a VC-1 encoded transfer for this series that unfortunately matches past efforts…which means it’s a pretty poor looking video throughout. The biggest issue is flesh colors, as they change from scene to scene and it just really isn’t a very good looking transfer at all. It’s quite mucked up at times and while it’s not as bad as the second season, it still isn’t all that much of a joy to watch nineteen episodes spread across four discs when it doesn’t look much better than an upscaled DVD set. Unfortunately another part of that condensing onto four discs includes the lack of any lossless audio track, as we’re given a standard DD5.1 mix—the same as the DVD release. Still, it’s a 5.1 sound mix that makes use of the shows unique sound effects. Dialogue is clean and clear and center channel focused, while surrounds get pushed around with the action sequences. I really wish Warner would start using at least TrueHD mixes on these TV series sets—they seem to do it with everything. It can’t honestly cost that more to use an uncompressed source…
Extras are sadly again limited (where is the commentary!), but include:
Chuck-Fu…and Dim Sum: Becoming a Spy Guy (22 minutes, 1080p)
The Jeffster Revolution: The Definitive Mockumentary (11 minutes, 1080p)
Declassified Scenes (21 minutes, 1080p)
Gag Reel (6 minutes, 480p)
All total we do get an hours’ worth of extras (give or take a few minutes), but considering we have nineteen episodes and not a single commentary…it’s kind of a bummer. Especially since this was kind of the unlikely season as it was so close to cancellation…oh well, I guess we can’t expect too much. Still Recommended for fans.
Chuck – The Complete Third Season is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.