Chuck season 4 episode 1 review: Chuck Versus The Anniversary

Chuck is back, and this time he's brought his mum! Billy checks out the season four opener...

4.1 Chuck Versus The Anniversary

Not to take anything away from the people behind this show, but there is something wonderful about its ability to do so much more than the description on the box might suggest. When it began, I think most people thought it might run for one or two seasons tops, but now we’re knocking on season 4, unbelievably.

I could analyse why to bits, but the truth is that this show has heart and a production team who care about their product, and that’s written in six foot high neon. There were so many points in the season opener when they’d gone that extra mile to make it more fun, or to get an extra laugh, that it had me constantly smiling.

The story kicks off where season 3 left off, with Chuck searching for his long lost mum. There’s a great pastiche pre-title sequence, where Chuck and Morgan fly around the world in search of clues, that might lead to a woman that obviously doesn’t want to be found. Linda Hamilton makes a brief appearance here, as loving mother and then observing her grown up son. She also reappears at the end, when we get to find out what sort of tough nut she really is.

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But, what I was more interested in, was what happened to the Buy More, or rather those that worked there after it got blown up? If there’s a disappointment to this episode it’s that even though the actors who play Jeff, Lester and Big Mike are all credited at the start, they don’t appear in it at all.

In fact, they’re never even mentioned. I do really hope that they come back soon because, without them, this really isn’t Chuck as we know it.

Confusingly, the retail operation known as Buy More is back, reconstructed by the CIA as a base of operations, no less. The scene where Chuck and Morgan discover this,, while looking for a job, is quite hilarious, and Joshua Gomez gets some superb dialogue here purloined from various TV show voice-overs. “Outside of the government, secret to the spy world, team of two, army of one, highway to the danger zone, live free or die hard…”

It’s stuff like this, a cheap but funny running gag about sexting, guest appearances by Dolph Lundgren as a Russian spy, and the epic Harry Dean Stanton as a Chinese food-loving repo man, that drive me to watch Chuck like a moth to a flame.

This is probably one of the best season openers the show has produced so far. It sets a number of plot horses running and saddles up a few more besides.

Chuck’s retirement from spying lasted barely any time at all, but then this wouldn’t be the show I love if he wasn’t knee deep in espionage effluent.

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Next week’s story has Lou Ferrigno guest starring, Hulk references I can already see the Chuck writers will be unable to resist. Go, Chuck!