The Big Bang Theory: Season 4
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This season the Big Bang gang’s romantic universe expands. On the rebound from Penny, Leonard falls into the arms of Raj’s sister Priya. Sheldon gets a girlfriend, or rather a friend who is a girl: Amy, a dour neurobiologist who declares herself besties with Penny. Howard and Bernadette heat up. And so do Raj and Bernadette (at least in Raj’s Bollywood daydream). All in the furtherance of award-winning genius comedy.
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Watching any show in order of broadcast should give the viewer a good idea as to whether it's getting better, worse, or staying the same, and whether the characters are stagnating, growing, or devolving. I maintain that TBBT is getting better in every way. The "bestie" relationship between Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) just keeps getting more adorable, and adding Raj's sister Priya as a romantic foil to Penny's non-love for Leonard makes things a bit more interesting. I acted in community theatre for 14 years and every director I had gave the same advice: "Have fun! If you're not having fun, the audience won't, either." Every character/actor on TBBT seems to be having fun with his/her part, and that makes the watching even more delicious. Plus, now that we know our characters so well, it's a hoot to look forward to getting all those accruing questions answered: Will Raj ever talk to females without alcohol? Will Howard really break free of his mother? Will Sheldon and Amy "do the dance with no pants"? (And, if so, will Leonard's mom get jealous?)
This is all great fun and I look forward to my "Big Bang" moments with relish. Only one thing nags at me: all the critics say that the show was meant to be Johnny Galecki's and that Jim Parsons' "Sheldon" has stolen the lead right out from under him (unintentionally, I'm sure, but there it is). I worry whether this eats at Mr. Galecki....whether it gets in the way of his and Mr. Parsons' friendship...those kinds of things. Whenever I see Leonard scowl on the show, I always wonder if he's doing some method acting, drawing on his despair at playing second Chiquita to Parsons. On the less-than-slim chance that he's reading this, I want to assure Johnny Galecki that the ability to successfully play straight man to someone else's demented antics is far trickier than it seems. Few actors have the chops to do it, and if he can just hang in there (oh please don't let me see an Enquirer headline like 'FED-UP GALECKI CALLS IT QUITS!'), I feel certain that his best leading roles are yet to come. Anyway, it's not his fault: Leonard wasn't truly written as a lead -- the zanier character will always get the attention (think Richie Cunningham vs. The Fonz).
In sum, TBBT is as fun as it ever was. I can't wait to see what happens next: always a good sign. If I could just stop worrying about Johnny Galecki, it would be an almost-perfect viewing experience.