Chuck is one of those shows that I'm glad is around, in part because it's nice to have a light-hearted, semi-serious spy show on the air and in part because Adam Baldwin should always be on our screens as some angry individual with barely contained violence inside him. John Casey isn't as great as Jayne Cobb, but he'll do in a pinch (hey, they both share the same initials!)
The third season picks up after Chuck downloaded the Intersect 2.0 and spouted that famous line from that film with the two terrible sequels "I know kung fu." I did note at the time that Zachary Levi's martial arts skills weren't really up to the job, there was plenty of camera trickery to try and conceal this, but as long as the show took the time to train him up in time for the third season I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Good news everyone! They did, and Chuck's action sequences are now tighter than ever, they're not quite at the standard of say - Kung Fu Hustle, but they're believable and high energy. They're also tight enough that when there is a deliberate punch/kick being pulled 'in character' you can identify the difference immediately - that's as close as I'm going to get to writing about that moment.
I'm also glad to report that there is plenty of character development for just about everyone in the cast, Devon (Ryan McPartlin) and Morgan (Joshua Gomez) become privy to some huge secrets while Sarah's (Yvonne Strahovski) past is expanded on a bit further and we get some resolution to the will they/won't they between her and Chuck. Brandon Routh joins as the newest member of 'Team Bartowski' and even Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) gets to do more than just look put upon and bewildered.
There are also some exceptional guest stars, including the brilliant Scott Bakula back as Stephen J. Bartowski and the superb Swoosie Kurtz has a star turn in one episode as half of the super spy couple team, Brandon Routh is also pretty good as Agent Shaw, his performance being a key element of quite a few scenes and he's admirably up to the task.
The pacing in this season is a little off, but it's no more so than any of the seasons, Chuck often seems to have a ponderous and slow start to the season before it kicks up into a decent gear. The third season is no exception, but once it is rolling the episodes become phenomenal and the final stretch of them is something to behold as everything on the show comes together in a perfect blend of action, romance, emotion and comedy.
If I had one other complaint it's that the Buy More sections of the show are quite lacking this season, as the show has evolved the Buy More has faded in importance to the point where it feels a little superflous to the plot, it should be an entertaining distraction from the spy action part, and at times - like the Fight Club incident - it is, but also quite often it feels a little like padding. In particular the character development for Morgan and the loss of Anna as a regular has made the Buy More less significant and that's left the weight of the Buy More sequences on Big Mike along with Jeff and Lester. They're two admirable creeps and a source of a lot of laughs, but they're too shallow to hold things up by themselves.
The set is pretty much a Chuck DVD by the numbers, the case is significantly easier to use than the horror that the original first season set came in (I still have problems opening that box) and the extras are relatively spartan in their quantity but enjoyable. It's not going to wow you, but they are interesting to watch.
The issues of the season are little compared to the glorious whole that is Chuck, it's not the most intelligent show on television right now, but it is one of the most fun and it's for that reason I'm giving Chuck's third season two thumbs up.