I admit, I didn't want to like this show. After all, it replaced my favorite CBS sitcom from the previous year, The Class. But I gave it a chance, and I'm really glad I did.
The Big Bang Theory tells the story of 4 young geniuses, as they find it will take more than book-smarts to navigate the unchartered waters of relationships in the real world. Into their world of role-playing games and physics in-jokes comes Penny, a beautiful waitress who somewhat reluctlantly becomes the guys' guide to life outside their academic shells.
What really sets the show apart from other half-hour comedies is the writing. You'd probably need an advanced degree in math or science to know whether some of the jokes are based on real concepts, but it doesn't matter. Just watching the two leads (flawlessly played by Johhny Galecki and Jim Parsons) try to co-exist with Penny living across the hall is pure comic gold. Jim Parsons (as uber-nerd Sheldon) may be the funniest comic actor on t.v., and it will be a shame if he doesn't nab an Emmy nomination for his work here.
If you haven't been watching The Big Bang Theory, give it a try. And if you have seen it, I hope you'll join me in voting for a DVD release of this bright and funny show.
The TV sitcom is not dead. Chuck Lorre has resurrected the universe of comdey with The Big Bang Theory, Monday nights at 7:00 PM CST. Hysterically, laugh out loud, belly-bustingly funny, this show is not to be missed.
The premise is fresh and fun: two young, genius, nerdy, socially awkward science professors named Sheldon and Leonard share an apartment. Across the hall, in moves Penny - a sweet, beautiful, blond bombshell who waitresses at the Cheesecake Factory. Leonard immediately falls for her. Penny cares for Leonard, but she loves him like a brother...
It is a phenomenon how unbelievably funny this show is. The writing is smart, creative, and consistent. The characterizations are masterful and avoid being over the top. The acting and comic timing are inspired. This cohesive ensemble cast jelled from day one, and has never looked back. As comical and wacky as this show is, every time I watch it, I think "I KNOW these people. I know people just like them." (Yes, I am a science and engineering geek. I have a Master's Degree in physics.) Somehow, in the midst of all the zany hilarity, the world created by these talented folks is real, comfortable, and familiar. The details in this show are amazing, and add to the realism. Clearly everyone involved in this effort cares, and that is what makes Big Bang work so well.
If you haven't seen Big Bang, give it a try. Your sides will ache from laughing so hard. As an added bonus, the theme song is catchy and sung by Bare Naked Ladies. And don't forget to hit pause as Chuck Lorre's placards pop up at the end of each episode.
on April 3, 2008
Clear the decks on Monday nights on CBS at 8:00 EST. You will not regret it. Okay, I absolutely love this show. It is the funniest thing I have ever seen on television. Every episode is a little gem. The writing is bright and hilarious and the acting and casting are superb. I cannot remember any new sitcom that I have ever watched that hit the ground running like this one did or where the cast jelled so quickly as a tight ensemble. I had almost completely sworn off network television sitcoms after those halcyon days of Seinfeld had finally passed. (May you rest in peace, beloved characters Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer, and "Newmie.") Then a friend told me about this hilarious new sitcom, THE BIG BANG THEORY, about two science geeks named Sheldon and Leonard. When I finally got around to watching the show at the third episode, I was astounded at how unbelievably funny this show actually was. The writing was smart and creative and the acting and comic timing were simply superb. Amazingly, the cast seemed to hit the ground running and immediately was a cohesive ensemble from the very first episode (which I got to see later in reruns). Even the supporting cast choices were inspired, such as Sara Gilbert for the uber utilitarian and throroughly heartless brain girl ("Leslie Winkle), Laurie Metcaf as Sheldon's no-nonsense east Texas mother ("Mrs. Mary Cooper"), and that great character actor who played "Ray-Ray" on "My Name Is Earl" as Sheldon's fictitious cousin fresh out of non-existent substance abuse rehab ("Leopold Houston"). Everybody involved in this show--from the writers, directors, actors, set and costume designers, etc.)--have created a wonderful little world where you feel you are watching the actual lives of real people you know and care about. The writers are true masters of characterization and, as is the case with pulling off a great con, the secret is in the details. I love how references to things like Howard's allergy to peanuts, Koothrapalli's phobia about talking to women, Sheldon's anal retentive obsession with labeling everything,and Leonard being lactose intolerant keep popping up in the episodes. And, the final test for me for rating the greatness of a sitcom is is how many of the tag lines (great one-liners) I incorporate into my own conversation. I find a lot of lines from the show keep popping up in my everyday speech: "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean," "You could always power down," "Good-bye, Honey Puffs. Hello, Big Bran," to list just a few. Needless to say, I am thrilled that these wonderful comic episodes are coming out on DVD. I am going to preorder them as soon as I finish this review.
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.
on May 13, 2008
Thanks Mr. Lorre, I sincerely mean that. The Big Bang Theory is just the best show to come along in a very long time. I still have every episode (from their original air dates) on my Tivo. With the news that the first (of hopefully many) seasons coming out on DVD I could not be happier.
I also read your notes at the end of every show. Thanks again Mr. Lorre for such a brilliant show.
I can't believe it's not British...
on February 28, 2009
The show is hilarious. Psych and communications tests show that maybe 10% of the population, more male than not, tending to go into science, math, and engineering, mostly "does not get" the normal social interations of everyone else, and doesn't feel the emotional bonds the same way the other 90% do. They live more in their heads than emotionally, and therefore learn social interations and how to communicate by watching and studying. This show is right out of my life and touches home, in response to the reviews by people saying folks like this just don't exist. I see myself, friends, and co-workers in these characters, only the actors do it better. They manage to make these otherwise disaffected, difficult to get along with people real, lovable, and understandable, and above all, laughs with them, not at them. That is a high art.
on September 17, 2007
I loved this show. It does remind me of Three's Company with the humor, girl and guys, in fact, I think they borrowed the studio audience from that show! The laughter does sound a little canned, but hey, the content made me smile. Great to see the guy that played boyfriend David on the Roseanne show. Very expressive and believable actor. I don't know his name, and the show didn't include actor/actress names. I wonder why there were NO credits played at the beginning or end, to give credit to the actors and actresses. Witty writing. I will watch every episode.
on February 6, 2008
Before this year, I would have said "who cares about a writer's strike, in fact, anything that gets Desperate Housewives off the air is a good thing. Unfortunately for me, the writer's strike took this show off the air, and it is a great loss. Writing is hysterical as are the characters in the show. I don't know how long the writer's can keep writing such crisp dialogue, but until it jumps the shark, this show is incredible.
Can I give something six stars????
How does one review a program like The Big Bang? I'm over 70, and sat down one night when my wife was out, and saw a clip. Then I sat and saw a segment. Then I sat and saw the show. Then I waited for my wife to come home, and we watched that over again. I don't remember what the episode was because we were immediately addicted.
We watched 3-5 shows a night with On Demand and it didn't even seem to matter that they were out of order. It's only been six weeks, and we've seen them ALL. We're depressed even though there are a few new episodes coming this year.
The characters do develop and have "quirks" in Season 2 and 3 that didn't exist in Season 1, but it doesn't matter. It's so funny that, once you know the characters, you just sit and prepare to be entertained. And as eccentric as the characters are, they're not "weird." I even knew a few of these guys way back in the 50s when I was a zoology major, when I took courses in physics and never understood them though I sat next to people who thought it was too much like kindergarten. The only character I never met in the 50s (or 60s) was a girl like Penny! (With apologies to my wife who was way cuter.)
If you want to talk "weird" it's the fact that we now watch "Nova" and stuff about string theory and my constant disagreement with the big bang theory (the theory, not the show), and we understand it. Who would have thought that Sheldon and Leonard and Howard and Raj could teach me anything?
Not every episode is hilarious, but 80 percent of them require stopping the DVDR and rewinding either to catch our breaths, listen to a line or lines over, or just to take a break from laughing. Even the ancillary characters are gut busters. The writers have outdone themselves, and have seemingly given every character a sufficient number of laugh lines to make the entire seasons almost "democratic" even though Jim Parsons has the greater share - and deserved the awards he's gotten.
The other thing is that it seems that the characters really like and enjoy each other in "real life," and I've yet to see personality conflicts even in some of the more private outtakes - which are also hilarious. But unlike the atmosphere on such shows as 2 1/2 Men (which jumped the shark two years after Charlie did in real life), there is a camaraderie among all the characters and it shows through. At least I feel that way.
The acting is superb. The whole show could be just "looks" and I'd laugh. For young actors - especially Kaley who's only 26 now - these are professionals. In reading their bios on Wiki, it would appear that they all have lives outside the show which just rounds out their personalities but, to show their professionalism, they put much of their real personalities aside and BECOME these eccentric, uber-smart, nerdy characters. (So much for my psychoanalysis: I'll leave the rest to Leonard's mother.)
Whether you will enjoy this as much as I, well, we'll just have to leave that to Schrödinger's cat.
My kids (who are in their 40s) and I have ongoing jokes all based on these characters and the plots. They gave me this First Season on DVD. Unlike Seinfeld and Friends, THESE I can watch move than twice, three times if truth be told.
If you don't, I'll be unhappy, and then you'll have to sing Soft Kitty to me. (P.S. I said that last week after a particularly negative session with my cable provider's rep when she asked if there was anything else she could do for me. After a moment's pause, she said, "You made me spit up on my mic and monitor!)
Everyone I know who has seen this show loves it - and all of them approached their first viewing with trepidation. HOW could a show about a group of geeks be funny?
And it's not only funny, but you don't have to know about string theory and quantum mechanics to get every single joke.
There is genius here, real genius, but I mean creative comedic genius... not the Einsteinian kind.
The cast is absolutely brilliant... I mean at the level of "Seinfeld" or "MASH" or "Friends" or "Cosby".
In his spare time while running Dharma and Greg and creating Two and a Half Men, Chuck Lorre came up with this project, and it is genius.
Johnny Galecki, as Leonard, and Jim Parsons, as Sheldon, make the best situation comedy team since Andy and Barney, and I make that comparison deliberately as there are definite similarities.
The classic Andy Griffith show was a starring vehicle for Andy, but it was Don Knotts as the unhinged Barney Fife who stole the show on his way to winning three Emmys.
Galecki's Leonard is written as more the leading man, but Parson's Sheldon has taken on a life of his own: The Big Bang Comedic Universe revolves around Sheldon.
Leonard and Sheldon are Ph.D. physicist roommates. They work at a University doing cutting edge research. They are also geeky in the extreme, devoting their spare time to computer gaming and comic books.
Penny, played by Kaley Cuoco, a pretty blonde waitress, moves across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon's apartment. Penny is not exactly academically gifted, although she has great common sense and is far more socially adept than her geek neighbors.
The cast is rounded out by geek friends: Kunal Nayyar as Rajeesh, a physicist colleague who tries to appease his parents in India (frequently present via laptop webcam), and Simon Helbert as Howard, an engineer who fantasizes himself a great ladies man, but lives with his mother and has a little inferiority complex as all of his friends have Ph.D.s while he has only a Masters from M.I.T.
The writing is so sharp you could shave with it. The comedic timing of this excellent cast would have been right at home on vaudeville stages and sparkles here better than a glass of Dom Perignon.
As the characters are developed the jokes become twice as funny. Leonard, a mere genius, humors roommate Sheldon and at least recognizes that he is not as adept socially as he'd like to be. Sheldon is a freak - receiving his first Ph.D. from the Heidelberg Institute at age sixteen - but his entire world revolves around his Rain Man obsessive-compulsive idiosyncrasies. He has no idea of social norms and sexual attractions. He is surprised when he occasionally correctly guesses the mood of acquaintances.
Recurring themes occur: Penny not "getting" the geeks, Raj's inability to speak in front of a woman unless he is drunk, Howard making audacious come-ons to women only to be squashed like a bug.
The dialogue crackles with wit:
Penny: Sheldon, can I ask you a question?
Sheldon: Well I would prefer that you didn't but I won't go so far as to forbid it.
Penny: ...Okay, I heard 'yes'.
If there is a story-arc it involves Leonard's cautious courtship of Penny, although Sheldon advises him early "You have about as much chance of going out with Penny as the Hubble Telescope has of finding that at the center of each black hole there's a little man with a flashlight trying to find the circuit breaker."
It's smart and it's funny and if Jim Parsons and Chuck Lorre don't win some winged statues the world is more warped than a bungee cord stretched toward a black hole.