|Chuck - The Complete Fourth Season (2011)|
|Blu-ray TV Shows|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Tuesday, 11 October 2011|
The first three seasons were a bit of a roller coaster. It started off strong and then got to the point where it was thought petitions would be needed to keep the show going. Thankfully, Warner has saw fit to give the show a chance.
In the fourth season, we find lots of changes occurring throughout the season. The common thread in this show is the search for Chuck’s family secrets. His sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) has a family of her own. With the death of Chuck’s father in a previous season, the focus turns to Chuck’s mother (Linda Hamilton).
The arch-nemesis in this season for the CIA operatives at the Buy More is the Volkoff family. Volkoff (Timothy Dalton) is the ring leader of a network of weapons and crime. Chuck’s mother fits into this in a way I will not reveal.
Meanwhile, Chuck and Sarah deal with their relationship, moving in together and the possibility of marriage. The Buy More goes through management changes. Morgan gets trained as a spy helper. Casey deals feeling like an outsider and his relationship with his daughter.
There is far too much to cover in the fourth season of the show. To be honest, much of it feels like a blur. Watching segments of the episodes brings back a lot of the memories, but this is one show that just fails to be retained episode by episode in my memory.
While I think this was the strongest season yet for the show, the season finale was, what I believe to be a perfect of example of “jumping the shark.” If they don’t fix the ridiculous event that happened at the end of the season, this next season will surely be the last. I won’t give away the ending, but it has to do with Chuck, Morgan and the intersect glasses. I should mention, Morgan is my least favorite character in the series.
The “Chuck” series has had some problematic previous Blu-ray releases. In fact, Warner has not been known for the having the strongest video transfers when it comes to their TV shows. Unfortunately, the same issues that plagued the first three seasons also occur here. 24 episodes are packed on four Blu-ray discs, plus bonus materials. While compression and other artifacting isn’t really become bothersome, it is persistent over the extent of the season. The issues with the video transfer lie in its consistency, or lack thereof. For every great thing about the video there is the complete opposite. The colors can be bold and striking one moment and then under-saturated the next. Details can be strong and then too soft. Noise comes and comes based on the sequences. Shadows can be revealing and then be overwhelming. Shadow delineation is not the best I have seen in TV show Blu-ray releases. The contrast levels are the best part of this release. They remain the most consistent and have a strong level. This provides a nice depth to the image. While some of the issues have to do with compression, the majority of it has to do with the fact that “Chuck” is shot using 16mm cameras. This is odd considering the availability of HD video. However, as I found out on set, this is a choice to provide the look and feel that the filmmakers desire. That being the case, aside from some post-production tweaking that I would have done, “Chuck” looks fairly accurate compared to the source material.
Now, finally, the moment we have all been waiting for. “Chuck” the fourth season is the first Warner TV Blu-ray release to feature lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio tracks for the episodes. There is really nothing like it. The lossless nature of these episodes proves that they are just fine to include. Having been part of this production audio team, I am pleased to hear the audio as originally intended. Having heard the original material in post, I can tell you that these audio tracks are as close to identical as you can come. The only difference between the original and these tracks being a small amount of quantization error that will not be noticeable to 99.999 percent of the viewers. The surround channels are nicely rendered and no longer suffer from a lack of coherency and spectral splitting. Frequency masking is a thing of the past. Effects and other sounds all emanate from where they were intended to come from. Dialogue is clear throughout. Again, while many will not even notice, I can spot all the original errors in sound design due to the lack of time in post. All in all, I am pleased with these audio transfers and hope that Warner continues to provide lossless audio for the remainder of their Blu-ray TV release days.
Each of the four discs in the set comes with bonus materials. There is one Blu-ray exclusive feature as well. The first disc contains six deleted scenes and “Buy Hard: The Jeff And Lester Story,” which is a webisode series.
The second disc contains another five deleted scenes. Also on the second disc is the Blu-ray exclusive, “The Top Secret Chuckipedia Interactive Experience.” This is a video commentary track that doesn’t really have much interactivity. In fact, it is much duller than many PiP tracks. Still, I applaud the effort. The video commentary is available on the episode, “Chuck Versus The First Fight.”
The third disc contains three deleted scenes and “Spying On The Cast: Operation Gomez,” a featurette with Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez).
The final disc contains another four deleted scenes, a gag reel and “Chuck Versus Directing,” which covers Zachary Levi’s time behind the camera.
“Chuck – The Complete Fourth Season” is entertaining and well worth the watch. It is a bit scattered, but it all comes together in the end (with the exception of the horrible final minutes of the season finale). Guess we will just have to the wait until October 21st to see how the creators are going to handle the Grimes issue. The video quality is decent, but hardly impressive. However, the first inclusion of lossless audio is a major upgrade. I recommend this title if you already a fan of the show. Otherwise, start from the beginning.