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Ever since the start of Season Two it's felt like 'Chuck' was on the chopping block. Rumors have circulated over the past two seasons that the show would be canceled, but it always seems to find a way to stay on the air. The closest call was near the end of season two. 'Chuck' was experiencing declining ratings and faced a very uncertain future. Thanks to a fan movement partnered with Subway restaurants, fans were able to convince NBC to pick up the show for a third season.
As fans of the show know, the second season ended in a very exciting and unexpected way, opening new doors for the future of the show. If you're reading this and are interested in season three you probably know that season two concluded with Chuck (Zachery Levi) downloading the intersect 2.0, allowing him to not only flash on government secrets, but also flash on fighting techniques and other defensive instincts.
The third season follows an interesting plot line that fits perfectly into the show's formula As Levi puts it in the special features, Chuck is in a place now where he has decided he wants the intersect in his head, he's no longer searching for a way to get it out. Without giving away too much, the season progresses to a point where Chuck learns to control himself and learn his strengths. Chuck faces new tests, like his first solo mission away from his safety net Agents John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski). Chuck learns about the real world of a spy, and finds that it is not everything he expected or wanted. This, for me, was excellent television because we the viewer experienced these things for the first time with him. We see that everything is not an easy decision and there are consequences for every action.
The third season returns many of the elements that have brought viewers back week after week. Chuck's best friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez) starts to suspect things are not what they seem. Other Buy More workers like Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay) return, and there are some very funny "Jeffster" rock band moments. Season three also adds a new character to the mix, agent Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh). Shaw plays a critical role in this season by helping Chuck realize his potential and learn to be a real spy. Routh does an excellent job in this role, playing a man who seems to be completely emotionless at times. He's basically the spy Chuck wants to be. Finally, the Chuck and Sarah relationship advances to new levels, and we get an answer to the "will they or won't they" question.
For me season three is my favorite so far. It takes a darker turn while still blending the humor that makes this series great. It's filled with twists and turns that will keep viewers guessing, and ends yet again with a twist that will surely take this show in a totally different direction for the fourth season. Fans will also be very satisfied with the development of the main characters (Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Morgan). If you haven't seen 'Chuck,' I strongly advise that you give it a chance. It's an exciting series that will keep you coming back for more.
'Chuck the Complete Third Season' arrives on Blu-ray with a slightly better 1080p/VC-1 transfer. The first two seasons of the show have featured very underwhelming video transfers that have disappointed many fans. I can't say that season three will blow you away, but it's slightly better than what we have with the first two seasons, and definitely much better than the HD broadcast image.
If you're familiar with the first two seasons of the series on Blu-ray, season three should be nothing new to you. The image suffers from many of the same flaws that were present in the previous seasons, including: inconsistent skin tones, abundant grain, and choppy black levels. Another distracting problem was the inconsistency of the image. Some of the panoramic shots of Burbank were beautiful, featuring bright oranges from the sun and clear sky, with hardly any grain, while other shots, such as the Buy More from the parking lot, were so grainy that I thought my TV was dirty.
Overall, I think these issues are less of a problem with the transfer and more of a problem with the style in which the show is filmed. 'Chuck' continues to be one of the few TV series to be shot with a 16 mm camera and the image continues to suffer. That, mixed with the choice of heavy grain, greatly limits how the image will carry over to an HD release.
'Chuck the Complete Third Season' has its problems, but overall I felt that the quality was slightly better than what we have seen with past Blu-ray releases for the franchise. I feel this is about as good as the show can look on Blu-ray.
For reasons unknown, Warner Brothers continues to deny their television Blu-ray releases a lossless audio track. With a show like 'Chuck' that features many action elements, the final product greatly suffers. Dialogue between characters is for the most part clear, but from time to time I found the voices to be overpowered by the bass effect or something going on in a different part of the screen. LFE effects seemed to be underwhelming for the most part, and the times they were very quiet and greatly overpowered by a front-heavy mix. I never felt truly immersed in the sound while watching this season.
'Chuck' is the perfect example of a show that would greatly benefit from the inclusion of a lossless audio track. Hopefully in the near future Warner Brothers will correct this problem and include lossless tracks with their releases. p>
Overall, 'Chuck the Complete Third Season' was great. The show takes a different turn by letting Chuck become a super spy, but it keeps the humorous elements that made the first two seasons special. If you're familiar with the first two seasons on Blu-ray, you know what to expect from this season, average video and Subpar audio, mixed with a few special features. If you’re a fan, this Blu-ray is a safe purchase. For everyone else, a rental may be a better move.