Even though it occurred two years ago, TV viewers are still feeling the effects of the writers’ strike. Many shows got their seasons shortened because of it, and some new shows that debuted during the same year didn’t even make it to a second year. Chuck was one of the shows to survive and get a second season. But it didn’t get the ratings NBC wanted after it came back from a long lay-off. Still enough, hardcore fans of the show demanded that NBC keep it for a third season. NBC finally gave in, but didn’t give it a full-season order. So let’s look back at the second season and see what worked and what didn’t work.
Zachary Levi plays the titular character (Chuck Bartowski), and he’s a slacker in a dead-end job as part of the “Nerd Herd” for a global technological superstore Buy More. Yes, go ahead and think of it as a rip-off of Best Buy and its Geek Squad. Chuck’s life changes one day when he gets an e-mail that downloads all of America’s CIA security information into his head, turning him into the Intersect, a human computer. As a result, two government super spies, Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and John (Adam Baldwin), are sent in to help contain Chuck and make sure he doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Season two picks up with Chuck still stuck with the CIA Intersect computer in his head, and still a valuable resource to the US government. But there are plans to create a new Intersect, both by the government and by an enemy organization known as FULCRUM. This threatens to make Chuck’s brain obsolete, which he probably wouldn’t mind except for the fact that the Intersect allows him to get close to Sarah. Their romantic tension continues to a strong story arc throughout the season. In addition, the wedding plans of Chuck’s sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and her fiance Devon, aka “Captain Awesome” (Ryan McPartlin), also threaten to blow Chuck’s cover as a super spy.
It’s hard to classify Chuck‘s target genre. It’s a comedy, action, sci-fi, romance, spy, drama show all wrapped into one. On the surface, people may just blow off the show’s concept, rolling their eyes at a nerdy guy who becomes a spy because of a computer download. look But looking past the premise you will see that the writers are able to blend all of the aforementioned genres together flawlessly. The writing is only helped by the cast, who strengthen their chemistry and character arcs. Zachary Levi might be the star, but there are plenty of interesting supporting characters. This extends to all the guest stars that pop up this season, including John Laraquette, Jordana Brewster, Scott Bakula, Jenny McCarthy, Andy Richter, Gary Cole, Michael Clarke Duncan, Nicole Ritchie, Chevy Chase, Tricia Helfer, and Reginald Vel Johnson.
Chuck is one of the most underrated shows on television. But because it does a lot of things well, but not one thing great, it flies under the radar. Still it’s one of the most entertaining shows in prime time.
Episode 1 – Chuck Versus the First Date
Chuck, Sarah and Casey try to retrieve a vital component for the new Intersect: The Cipher. At the Buy More, the search for the store’s Assistant Manager begins. Chuck and Sarah go on their first date. Casey is again instructed to eliminate Chuck as soon as the new Intersect comes online.
Episode 2 – Chuck Versus the Seduction
Chuck needs to go undercover to seduce a woman named Sasha Banachek, so an old school spy named Roan Montgomery is assigned as his mentor. Meanwhile, Captain Awesome himself needs some relationship advice, and he gets it from Morgan. Lester faces his first problems as assistant manager: He is not taken seriously by his co-workers.
Episode 3- Chuck Versus the Break-Up
Bryce Larkin returns to town with news about FULCRUM. They have hired a wealthy software magnate named Von Hayes to decrypt information on a stolen chip containing a refresh to the Intersect with highly classified information. Bryce and Sarah have to pose as a married couple at Von Hayes’ dining party to steal back the chip, while Chuck has to pose as a waiter.
Meanwhile, Morgan has an encounter with the Mighty Jocks at the Buy More.
Episode 4 – Chuck Versus the Cougars
Chuck goes undercover at Sarah’s 10-year High School reunion, where they meet the girl that tortured Sarah back in the old days.
Episode 5 – Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer
Efficiency expert Emmett Milbarge pays the Buy More a visit to inspect the branch, while a global terrorist looks for Jeff. Chuck needs to socialize with Jeff to find out about his connection to the terrorist. Finally, it all comes down to video games and the prevention of World War III.
Episode 6 – Chuck Versus the Ex
At a BioScience conference, Chuck runs into Jill, his ex-girlfriend who broke up with him and later dated Bryce Larkin. He flashes on her boss, Guy Lafleur, who is suspected to be working on biochemical weapons, so Chuck is ordered to reconnect with Jill in order to gain more information on Lafleur. Meanwhile, Emmett wants the staff to take CPR lessons including a test.
Episode 7 – Chuck Versus the Fat Lady
The team needs to acquire a FULCRUM agent list by solving several riddles left behind by Guy Lafleur. Meanwhile, Emmett tries to find out why Chuck is absent so often and goes after his colleagues to get the information.
Episode 8 – Chuck Versus the Gravitron
After finding out that Chuck’s ex-girlfriend Jill is FULCRUM, he is ordered to use her to infiltrate FULCRUM. Meanwhile, Ellie is preparing the apartment for Thanksgiving and the arrival of Captain Awesome’s parents.
Morgan, Jeff and Lester are assigned to guard the store over Thanksgiving.
Episode 9 – Chuck Versus the Sensei
The team is assigned to survey the Global Launch Agency, when intel shows that someone might penetrate their security. During the surveillance someone intrudes the lab who turns out to be Casey’s former sensei Ty Bennett. Meanwhile, Captain Awesome’s perfect parents decide to pay Devon and Ellie a surprise visit to help them plan the wedding, and Emmett Milbarge introduces an “Employee of the Month” contest to the Buy More, but the employees start their own contest instead.
Episode 10 – Chuck Versus the Delorean
Sarah’s father, a con artist, comes to meet her, revealing that he conned a Saudi Arabian sheik, Rajiv Amad, out of nearly a million dollars. The sheik turns out to be connected to terrorist fundings, so the General wants Sarah and Chuck to gain intel from Sarah’s father, but things get complicated when Amad shows up. Anna wants to take her relationship with Morgan a step further and asks him to move in an apartment with her. Devon lends him some money to buy one, but instead, he buys a car.
Episode 11 – Chuck Versus Santa Claus
It’s Christmas Eve and the Buy More team works on the decorations for the annual sale while watching a live car chase on TV. When Devon and Ellie come for a visit, the car chase ends at the store with the perpetrator taking everyone at the store hostage.
Episode 12 – Chuck Versus the Third Dimension
Chuck has to protect rock star Tyler Martin, while Morgan wins two backstage passes to Martin’s concert, so he needs to decide who will become his “plus one”. This is a special 3D episode.
Episode 13 – Chuck Versus the Suburbs
It is Valentine’s day and emotions are boiling at the Buy More. However, Big Mike has to face a divorce, so the Buy More team try to distract him. Meanwhile, Chuck and Sarah go undercover as a married couple in the suburbs.
Episode 14 – Chuck Versus the Best Friend
When Anna’s new boyfriend turns out to be connected to the Triads, Chuck is ordered to spy on him by becoming his friend, thereby endangering his friendship with Morgan. Meanwhile Jeff and Lester want to perform at Ellie and Devon’s wedding with their band called “Jeffster”!
Episode 15 – Chuck Versus the Beefcake
Chuck gets jealous when Sarah has to seduce FULCRUM agent Cole Barker, codename “Beefcake”. In the meantime, while Big Mike continues dating Morgan’s mother and Morgan takes refuge at Chuck’s place, Jeff and Lester start looking for the “Buy More Babe” as a way of finding a new employee.
Episode 16 – Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon
When Cole Barker escapes FULCRUM with new information, Sarah and Casey go looking for a man that seems to be behind FULCRUM’s plans to build its own Intersect, forcedly leaving Chuck and Barker in a safety bunker, as FULCRUM is still actively searching for them. Meanwhile, Morgan can not find a way of telling Anna that he wants to move in with Chuck instead of her, so Lester and Jeff are encouraging him to find a way of repulsing her.
Episode 17 – Chuck Versus the Predator
Chuck is contacted by “Orion”, the creator of the Intersect computer. He starts having trust issues and doesn’t know who to lean for help. Meanwhile, the Buy More staff needs to protect their newest acquisition from the jealous Beverly Hills branch, not knowing that it was sent by “Orion” and meant for Chuck.
Episode 18 – Chuck Versus the Broken Heart
A female agent is sent to evaluate Sarah’s performance as Chuck’s handler, when Chuck’s feelings for her become an issue to General Beckman. However, the presence of a new agent causes complications. Meanwhile, Morgan, Jeff and Lester are trying to get invited to Captain Awesome’s bachelor party.
Episode 19 – Chuck Versus the Dream Job
Chuck’s life seems to be coming together, his long-absent father has returned and he is about to land his dream job at Roark Instruments. Meanwhile, Lester and Jeff convince Big Mike to send them to NextExpo, which is hosted by Roark Instruments.
Episode 20 – Chuck Versus the First Kill
After Chuck’s father is kidnapped by FULCRUM, Chuck finds himself in the need to ask his imprisoned ex-girlfriend Jill for help. Meanwhile, the Buy More team try to bring down Emmett’s corporate evaluation, but he seems to be one step ahead.
Episode 21 – Chuck Versus the Colonel
Chuck and Sarah go AWOL in their search for Chuck’s kidnapped father, so Casey is ordered to pursue and return them after being promoted to Colonel. Meanwhile, Emmet promotes Morgan to assistant manager against his will.
Episode 22 – Chuck Versus the Ring
Ellie’s big day finally arrives, and Chuck must save her life and her wedding from being ruined by Ted Roark and FULCRUM.
The video is given in widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transfer is great with colors generally looking bright and vivid details everywhere. No major or minor problems at all here, and on par with previous seasons.
The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, and Thai as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either, and the same good quality as previous seasons. But certainly an odd mix of audio options for sure.
Bonus 3-D “Chuck Vs. The Third Dimension” Episode –
There are two pairs of 3-D glasses included in this set, so that you can watch this episode that originally aired after the Super Bowl last year. Not the best 3-D effects you will see, but still a solid episode.
“Truth, Spies and Regular Guys: Exploring the Mythology of Chuck” Featurette –
This runs 20 minutes and it’s basically a summary of the series so far. There are interviews with the cast and crew, but there are lots of spoilers here, so you won’t want to watch this if you haven’t seen the show at all. There is really nothing new here for fans of the show either.
“Dude in Distress”” Featurette –
This runs 18 minutes and it takes a look back at this season’s big action scenes. There is a bunch of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew, giving insight into how they came together.
“Declassified Scenes”: Deleted Scenes –
There are 40 scenes that got cut from this season. Nothing that is must-watch or anything, but still some fun ones thrown in.
“Chuck vs. the Chuckles”: Bloopers –
This runs 8 minutes and it’s the usual gags and hijinks on the set. This is actually funny, though.
There 5 mini-episodes that can be found on NBC.com as well. They total 10 minutes and act more like fake Buy More employee-training videos.
“Real-Life Captain Awesome Tips” –
Ryan McPartlin, in full character as Dr. Devon Captain Awesome explains how to be awesome at things like job interviews, running into an ex, high-school reunions and first dates. He is a little over-the-top, but they are here nonetheless.
“John Casey Presents: So You Want to Be a Deadly Spy?” –
This is a 3 minute educational-film spoof on how to be a spy featuring Adam Baldwin, in full character as John Casey.
At the very least, watch some episodes through rental or HULU to see what Chuck is like. If you’re tired of endless police procedurals like CSI and Law & Order and their clones, then this show might be a welcomed surprise. Overall, this is an entertaining series that the majority of people will like, despite the seemingly limited premise.
Warner Home Entertainment presents Chuck: The Complete Second Season. Created by Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz. Starring Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin, Sarah Lancaster, and Ryan McPartlin. Running time: 585 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: January 5, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.
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