“If you people spent less time thinking about sex and more time concentrating on comic books, we’d have far fewer embarrassing moments.”
Finally a situation comedy for geeks. Ever since Urkel went from being a one-off character on Family Matters to the star of the show, the geeks have been looking for their own series. With The Big Bang Theory you get plenty of geek factor with a healthy dose of laughter. I honestly haven’t laughed this much at a situation comedy in decades.
Meet Sheldon Cooper (Parsons). He’s a brilliant young scientist working at a Pasadena university. Here he studies particle theory. He’s one of those young prodigy guys who likely graduated from college and then went home to get his diapers changed. Sheldon insists on tight structure and is uncomfortable outside of a highly structured environment. He’s insecure and can’t stand confrontation. He also, of course, believes he’s the smartest guy on the planet. He’s a huge comic and science fiction fan who envisions himself a young Lex Luthor. His roommate Leonard (Galecki) is also a gifted member of the school’s staff. Leonard is about the most normal one of the group and actually has a steady girl in next-door neighbor Penny (Cuoco). Penny works at the local Cheesecake Factory as a waitress. She’s not the sharpest tool in the box, but she can often teach the boys a thing or two about the real world. Leonard and Sheldon often hang out with the duo of Raj (Nayyar) and Howard (Helberg). Raj is from India and is usually worried about his job. If he messes up, he’ll be deported, and he’s gotten used to the meat-eating, materialistic world of America. He’s ultra-shy around women. When he’s not trying to make a move, he finds it impossible to speak out loud when one is in the room. He’s an astrophysicist. Howard still lives with his stereotypical Jewish mom who we never really see. She’s usually yelling up to him in his room. He’s an MIT graduate who thinks he’s a lot cooler than he really is. Raj and Howard have a rather odd relationship, which is often interpreted by other characters as latent homosexual. They act like an old married couple. Of course, they’re not, but it wouldn’t be funny if they actually were. The boys surround themselves with all of the action figures and comic books that go along with the lifestyle. Since this is a Warner show, you can expect more than a fair share of material from the DC Universe. Still, the Marvel stuff does get in there, including a nod to Stan Lee.
This is actually my first experience with The Big Bang. Certainly, I’ve seen commercials for the series and I recognize Kaley Cuoco from the late John Ritter’s 8 Rules For Dating My Daughter. She’s grown quite a bit since then and is the perfect balance to the nerdy world of the four guys. You could say that she manages to keep them grounded, usually against their will. The series might put some off with a lot of the scientific babble that sounds like it is best suited for the bridge of the starship Enterprise, which is where these four guys really wish that they were. What makes it work in a comedic sense is the timing and chemistry the cast appears to have. I may not understand most of what Sheldon says, but that’s what makes it funny. Here it’s not so much the situations that bring out the comic gold; it’s just the way these guys interact with their world. It’s like the planet that we know doesn’t really exist for these guys, at least outside of a theoretical concept. How they’ve kept that kind of a feeling over three seasons is quite a mystery to me.
Some of the situations you will find in the third season include the season premier which apparently left off where the second season ended. It seems the boys went to the North Pole so that Sheldon could conduct a string theory experiment. We learn that he was being impossible to live with as things went wrong. So the guys rigged his experiment to do what he wanted and messed up the whole project. The first episode deals with the aftermath and potential breakup of the friendships. Of course, we know that’s not going to happen. Sheldon meets Star Trek’s Wil Wheaton, who shows up for a couple of episodes where we learn that Sheldon harbors a long deep resentment toward the actor. He plans to smite him in a fantasy game Wheaton has come to town to participate in. The showdown is priceless. The boys get burglarized and Sheldon no longer feels safe. So he searches the country for a safe place to live. When Raj faces deportment, he decides to work for Sheldon. Suddenly going back to India doesn’t seem that bad anymore.
Each episode is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The high-definition image is brought to you via aVC-1 codec. There are about 12 episodes per disc, so the bit rate is respectable. The show exhibits a lot of bright colors that really pop and shine in this image presentation. Detail is great, which allows you to take a good look at the cool sci-fi stuff the boys have around them. Black levels are strong. It’s a very polished-looking show with plenty of eye candy.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is doing what you need with a television situation comedy. It’s all about the dialog. There are occasional spices added to the audio presentation. The sweeping sounds of the animated transitions sound pretty cool. It’s all about the jokes and the techno-babble.
Take-Out With The Cast: (10:25) The cast gathers in the living room set with Chinese take-out. They open up fortune cookies with questions that they proceed to answer.
Set Tour With Simon And Kunai: (7:40) A humorous tour of the various sets on the show.
Gag Reel: (7:51): This is the only extra in standard definition.
It’s a sign of a good sit-com when you can watch it starting with the third season and quickly settle in like you haven’t really missed anything. Perhaps the cast chemistry wasn’t quite this good when it started; I don’t know. I do know that the writers and cast have managed to make it feel fresh for a third year without reinventing the wheel. I recommend you check it out. Since this is the first season to appear on DVD and the show doesn’t require a lot of back story, I would absolutely start here and wait on the earlier seasons until they reach Blu-ray. “Anyway, if I’m wrong I think I’d know it.”