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Chuck - The Complete Third Season (2010) Print E-mail
Monday, 06 September 2010
ImageIt’s that time of the year; the time in which we are overloaded with last year’s television show seasons being released on home video.  Here we have the third season of “Chuck.”  As a fan of the show I can say that the writing and stories remain strong.  This is likely because I find it easy to overlook the show’s flaws.  I get into the relationships and some of the subplots more than the main story line.  That’s what keeps me coming back.

For those that don’t care about the on-again, off-again relationship between Chuck and Sarah, or whether or not Ellie will ever discover Chuck’s double life, probably find the show to be fairly monotonous.  Chuck and his team get in trouble and then they are free.  That is why the subplots are so important.

“Chuck” is about an expelled-Stanford student that works at the Buy More (equivalent to Best Buy).  After opening and email in the first season, Chuck becomes the Interesect, a human with government intelligence stored in his brain.  In the second season Chuck gets the Interesect out of his head but must download the new Interesect in order to get out of the season finale’s jam.  The Interesect 2.0 makes Chuck more than just a compendium of knowledge but also a fighting machine.

Chuck can now “flash” and gain martial arts knowledge and escape techniques.  This is where season three picks up.  The Intersect 2.0 was a brilliant move on the part of the show’s writing team.  “Chuck” was becoming a bit lame because Chuck could never do anything but share intelligence.  Now that Chuck can handle his own the show remains up tempo.

In the third season, Chuck begins his training to become a real spy, despite Sarah’s wish for him to become a spy.  However, being a spy is all Chuck ever wanted, apparently even more than he wants Sarah.  Chuck and the CIA continue their battle against The Ring.  A new taskforce is created to handle operations against The Ring.  The taskforce is headed by Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh).  As the season progresses we watch relationships fall apart and new relationship begin.  Shaw puts a wrench Chuck’s hope to get back with Sarah.  Reappearing this season is Scott Bakula as Chuck and Ellie’s father.
Season three isn’t perfect.  This is likely because the network wasn’t sure if the show would be coming back for a fourth season.  Thus, the show drops some plotlines and fast forwards to other plots, trying to make sure the show ends at a point where viewers would be happy whether it came back or not.  I must say that the season ends just like that.  It isn’t a cliffhanger, but it still leaves room for a fourth season.  Thankfully, the fourth season does begin in a couple weeks.

So that is the good news.  The show is good and it is coming back for a fourth season.  Now, the bad news.  The audio and video transfers are subpar compared with the capabilities of the format.

Warner Bros. isn’t known for having the best TV-Blu-ray transfers.  However, I did expect more in this transfer.  Many of the issues stem back to the source material.  The show is not known for having the most consistent production value.  All the source problems are really brought out by the Blu-ray technology.  Fleshtones are the most disconcerting.  They constantly move back and forth between artificially saturated to pale and lifeless.  This is the first time I cannot say that digital artifacting does not appear.  Crushing, aliasing, banding, and everything else you can imagine all show up in this transfer.  Contrast and brightness levels are all over the place.  Blown out whites are very common throughout the show.  Colors result in bleeding half the time.  Casual viewers will find this transfer to be as pathetic as the original HD broadcast.  Picture breakup is quite rampant and annoying.

For some reason or another Warner does not believe in adding a lossless audio track to their TV Blu-ray releases.  Despite being 640kbps, this Dolby Digital track is inadequate.  The LFE channel is all over the place.  It constantly eats up much of the bandwidth.  Dialogue is inconsistent.  While it is generally intelligible the timbre changes all too often within the same sequence.  The rear channels never add any sense of envelopment.  Ambience in the surrounds is all too fake and generally too quiet.  Discreet sounds in the rear channels are reserved.  When they do occur directionality is spotty.  This is due to the frequency masking that is commonplace in Dolby Digital.  Yet another reason why there needs to be a lossless track.  Sound effects are hit or miss.  Action sequences frequently contain overpowering and lackluster sound effects.  Many of the problems stem back to the original sound design and mix, but the lossless track doesn’t help the cause.

The Blu-ray package comes with 4 discs.  The supplements package is fairly tame.  It is no where near the quality package presented on the “Lost” Blu-ray releases.  Included in the set is a collection of deleted scenes, which are better than usual.  There is also a gag reel.  “Chuck Fu…and Dim Sum” is a promotional piece.  Lastly, there “The Jeffster Revolution” a mockumentary.

“Chuck” is a great show, but sadly it does not come with great video and audio transfers.  Fans will be disappointed.  If it comes down to a choice between the Blu-ray and the standard DVD, you may want to opt for the DVD set and save some money.

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