Chuck: The Complete Second Season

Chuck: The Complete Second Season
Spy life hasn't done well in the relatively small scale world of television, but Chuck succeeds ― creatively, if not necessarily ratings-wise ― by balancing its oversized ambitions with grounded characters and at least half of each episode being comically mundane. Chuck (Zachary Levi) is an electronics store loser inadvertently turned tech-enabled super-spy, with invaluable government secrets locked in his brain. He's protected by two agents ― brusque Casey (Adam Baldwin), who's prone to violence, and sweet Sarah (Yvonne Strahowski), who tends toward breaking Chuck's heart with her charming hotness. Spy missions often feature Chuck's girly squeals before getting saved by Sarah, using his nerd brain for obscure but crucial plot points; Levi's adept physical comedy matched with Strahowski's dance background result in entertaining and surprisingly inventive fight choreography. (At one point, Sarah has an intense fight with an enemy agent inside a tiny car.) In the other half of Chuck's world, he's the straight man for workplace comedy at electronics chain Buy More, populated by the schemers, losers and idiots that Chuck calls friends. Chuck works best when all the gears work in sync ― when spy missions overlap into suburban Burbank, when Chuck's competence in one area bashes up against his hopelessness in another. In the show's second season, they build a bridge between those worlds when Chuck's brother-in-law-to-be, Captain Awesome (Ryan Partlin), discovers Chuck's double life, giving Awesome a new path for his adrenalin addiction and Chuck an ally on the domestic front. It's a terrifically entertaining show that's well worth a look. However, as much as I love Chuck, I have less love for the effort put into this second season DVD package. The available special features fall into two camps: goofy in-character bits (Captain Awesome's love life tips, John Casey's ways to kill a guy) and behind-the-scenes recaps of what Chuck is. Um, yeah, we're watching the second season on DVD, chances are we get the basic premise of the show without it being explained in what is essentially an extended press kit. Limited editions do feature 3D glasses for the post-Super Bowl ep "Chuck Versus the Third Dimension" (also available in just two dimensions), but don't make up for the lack of inspired fan service elsewhere. A great show, but a poor showing for devoted fans. Plus: webisodes, deleted scenes, more. (Warner)