Sep 16, 2008

New Spy DVDs Out This Week: Chuck & Chan

Today sees the release of a couple of box sets of note to spy fans. First up, Warner Home Video delivers Chuck: The Complete First Season. I dig Chuck. It's a good blend of spy adventure and ample doses of comedy, plus a dab of soap opera, from The OC creator Josh Schwartz. It's also one of the few new shows to debut last year whose return I'm actually looking forward to! (Along with Pushing Daisies.) Adam Baldwin steals the show as NSA agent John Casey, but leads Zachary Levi and gorgeous Yvonne Strahovski are also appealing. The concept contrives a way to have a trio (if you count the hapless title character) of spies stuck in a mini-mall, which is pretty brilliant. James Bond meets Clerks. In addition to the thirteen Season One episodes (remember, the debut season was truncated thanks to the writers' strike), extras include deleted (er, declassified) scenes, the featurettes "Chuck On Chuck" (series stars join creators for some point/counterpoint) and "Chuck's World" (character development and original casting sessions), "Chuck vs. the Chuckles" (gag reel) and "Chuck's Online World" (a gallery of web-originated mini-featurettes).

Fox, meanwhile, unleashes the last of their excellent Charlie Chan collections, Volume 5. This one includes a whopping seven titles, rounding out star Sidney Toler's Chan movies at Fox. Amidst those titles are a couple of spy flicks: Murder Over New York and the excellent Charlie Chan In Panama (both 1940). The former finds Charlie taking on aircraft saboteurs in Manhattan, and basically uses a timely spy/saboteur plotline to drape a traditional Chan mystery on top of (with some very original twists). The latter is a full-on spy movie, moreso than any other Chan adventure. Charlie is working undercover for the American government in Panama, determined to keep foreign agents from doing harm to the U.S. fleet. The rest of the movies are all typical, high-quality Charlie Chan mysteries, guaranteed to please fans of the series. John Cork contributes only one documentary this time, but it's a good one! Read my review of the fantastic Volume 4 here.

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