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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Chuck – The Complete First Season (Warner DVD)

Chuck – The Complete First Season (Warner DVD)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: B     Episodes: B-



Chuck has been described as Get Smart for the 24 generation and this reviewer fully agrees.  Over the years many spy series have come and gone with varying degrees of success.  From classic series like Mission Impossible and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. too modern oddities like Magnum PI and McGuyver, it seems that spy series have taken on many forms.  The new series Chuck serves to turn the spy world upside down just like Get Smart did 40 years ago.  The series holds true to all the classic spy elements with tons of missions and gadgets, but introduces an offbeat comedy constituent that makes the series unique.


Chuck: The Complete First Season stands out as a strong, action packed comedy with a lot to offer.  The series takes off running when a rogue CIA agent, Bryce Larken, steals a load of secret information from the U.S. government and is killed in the process.  Before Bryce is taken out by NSA Operative John Casey, however, he sends the secret files to his old Stanford roommate Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi).  Years earlier Bryce had gotten Chuck kicked out of Stanford University in his senior year and from that point forward Chuck’s life went into a stagnant, downward spiral.  Chuck spends his days working as a member of the Nerd Herd at the local Buy More electronics chain (think Best Buy’s Geek Squad) and his nights moping around the apartment that he shares with his hot sister Ellie, her boyfriend ‘Captain Awesome,’ and Chuck’s best friend Morgan; who is more of a leech than anything else. 


Chuck and Bryce had fallen out of touch for obvious reasons, but the files that Chuck received from his late roommate were going to change his life forever.  As Chuck opens the top secret email he is bombarded with hours of images and text that are a means to store vast amounts of information quickly into the human brain (yea, yea we all saw Johnny Mnemonic).  Chuck is soon discovered by both the CIA and NSA to be to ‘human safe’ of very classified information and in turn two agents are assigned to protect him at all costs.  Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) is the major hotness from the CIA sent to protect Chuck, whereas John Casey (Adam Baldwin), the same man who killed Bryce, is Chuck’s protection sent by the NSA.  The bulk of the first season’s storylines center on the two agents protecting Chuck as he slowly but surely unlocks the information that is stored in his head.  The secret information that Chuck has is not simply at his disposal, but instead is released when a trigger stimulates the information forward; a trigger usually being another agents’ face.  The series works because it does not take itself too seriously, but rather uses the comedy of Chuck’s clumsiness and the romantic tension between him and Sarah coupled with an energetic, action undertone to turnout great episodes.


The series definitely embodies the comedic heart of a sitcom like that Seinfeld or The Office, but is concurrently packed with the action and the liveliness of classic spy films and television series like that of The Bourne Trilogy or Alias.  The mix of comedy and action makes Chuck standout among a slue of other series that failed in the aftermath of the 2008 Writer’s Strike.  Zachary Levi plays a very likable character and the hotness facto that Yvonne Strahovski brings to the table does not hurt either.  The future can only tell if the series will hold up against the already oversaturated television market of heavy hitters, but this reviewer thinks the series has the ability to hold its ground as long as it sticks to what is already working for it and remains fresh.  The series is somewhat reminiscent of fan favorites like Monk that have managed to balance the dramatic and comedic elements to an extreme.  Good luck Chuck!


The technical features on this first season set are not top secret, but do hold their own.  The picture is presented in a 1.78 X 1 Widescreen that has good but not great colors, an at times soft image, but overall has a sharp, crisp quality.  The sound is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound that comes heavy from the front with the dialogue, but does manage to use the other speakers for peripheral noise and action sequences.


The extras on this set are nice and maintain a strong rewatchable quality.  Special features include Declassified Scenes (Deleted Scenes) that really don’t add anything additional to the program, Chuck on Chuck a featurette that has the stars and creators do a point counterpoint discussion on the series, Chuck’s World featurette that discusses the development process of the series as well as including the original casting sessions, Chuck vs. the Chuckles Gag Reel that is very amusing, and finally Chuck’s Online World gallery that allows the viewer to watch the web-originated mini-featurettes.


If you like spies, hot girls, and hilarious comedy…Chuck is the show for you.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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