Review: Big Bang Theory

“It all started with a big bang!”

Focusing on the lives of physicists, and geeky ones at that, does make for an atypical television series, but a great cast, original characters, and high quality writing, combine to produce a modern comedic gem. Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, it understandably took a little while for the creative team to develop the personalities of the characters. But once the basic parameters were set, The Big Bang Theory began to boldly go where no comedy has gone before. 

With characters that always seem to be evolving, the series explores some unusual topics, and frequently heads into uncharted territory, usually making it impossible to predict what may happen. This is one of the main reasons why this unique, goofy, show is so hilarious and captivating. The creative team taps into facets of pop culture that may be associated with geeks and nerds (and teenage boys in general), and find ways to weave them into their stories, often in an exaggerated way. Science fiction, comic books, superheroes, video games, television, action figures, paint ball fights, Star Wars, and the Star Trek universe, are just a few of the subjects that are featured. 

The cast is marvelous, with Johnny Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter, the shy guy enchanted by his new neighbor. Jim Parsons is Sheldon Cooper. If you look up the word neurotic, Sheldon’s photo just might be there. Simon Helberg is Howard Wolowitz, the delusional sleaze, who does still have his good points. Kunal Nayyar is Rajesh Koothrappali, who can’t speak to a beautiful woman unless he is under the influence of alcohol. Kaley Cuoco is Penny, the girl from Omaha who moved next door, works at the Cheesecake Factory . . . . and changed their universe.

Since Sheldon is off the scale when it comes to weirdness (what Penny would later come to describe as ‘whackadoodle’), and Wolowitz and Raj are arguably more ‘abnormal’, Leonard seems the most sensible of the bunch. Sheldon is totally unique, so bizarre in his beliefs, behavior and speech, that he seems at times to be from another planet. Jim Parsons is a amazing comic talent, with a bright, bright future. 

Penny has a multi-faceted role. One is as the primary female character, another is that she usually represents as close to a ‘normal’ persons’ point of view as we will get. As a link to reality, she is often the reference that shows just how wacked out the guys really are. The times when she joins them in their world (such as when she fragged Sheldon on Halo night), are often some of the program’s funniest moments. By the end of the season, everything about the show is clearly peaking. In ‘The Pancake Batter Anomaly’, Sheldon gets sick, and Penny gets stuck taking care of him, rubbing Vaporub on his chest, and singing ‘Soft Kitty’. In ‘The Bat Jar Conjecture’, it’s Sheldon’s team versus the rest of the gang and Leslie Winkle (Sara Gilbert), in the Physics Bowl. Sheldon’s knockout of a twin sister arrives and makes waves, in ‘The Pork Chop Indeterminacy’. Sheldon gets a look in the mirror, in ‘The Jerusalem Duality’ when a young genius arrives on campus. In ‘The Nerduana Annihilation’, when Leonard buys the time machine used in the classic 60’s film `The Time Machine’ on eBay, Penny’s astute description is that “it looks like something that Elton John would drive through the Everglades”. In the season finale, there’s a glimmer of hope for romance for Leonard, in ‘The Tangerine Factor’ when Penny agrees to go out with him. 

The Big Bang Theory is simply one of the most engaging comedies to come along in years. Each episode seems to fly by, and leave you wanting more. Some commentary tracks would have been cool, but the only bonus is the `Quantum Mechanics of The Big Bang Theory’ a look at the creators, cast, and genesis of the show. There are only seventeen episodes in the First Season due to the writers’ strike. 

Things only get better in the second season, as the show’s creative team continue to develop the characters, and introduce new elements to the mix, keeping things fresh and extremely funny. As Sheldon Cooper might say, it is a foregone conclusion that the third season will be characterized by the same outstanding writing, and brilliantly quirky humor found in the first two seasons, continuing to keep The Big Bang Theory at the cutting edge of contemporary comedy.


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