The Big Bang Theory: Season 1
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Big Bang Theory: S1 (DVD)
Leonard and Sheldon are brilliant physicists, the kind of "beautiful minds" that understand how the universe works. But none of that genius helps them interact with people, especially women. All this begins to change when a free-spirited beauty named Penny moves in next door. Sheldon, Leonard's roommate, is quite content spending his nights playing Klingon Boggle with their socially dysfunctional friends, fellow Caltech scientists Wolowitz and Koothrappali. However, Leonard sees in Penny a whole new universe of possibilities ... including love.]]>
The delightful sitcom The Big Bang Theory revolves around a character type rarely seen on television: The alpha geek. Physicists Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) get their lives shaken up when an attractive young woman named Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in to the apartment across from theirs. The key to the show, though, is not that they both fall haplessly in love--Leonard does, but Sheldon remains impermeably aloof and caustic about anything resembling romance or human relationships in general. While the push and pull of Leonard's yearning for Penny motivates much of the series' ongoing plot, the show's real drive comes from Sheldon's fantastic combination of obsessive-compulsive neurosis and grandiose obliviousness. He's a brilliant comic creation, imperious and dorky, a seamless collaboration of clever writing and an inspired performance by Parsons. Whether Sheldon loses his job for insulting his new boss, or finds his ego bruised by a child prodigy, or finds himself unable to bear being part of a lie that Leonard has told, he attacks the world with a relentless need to assert his supremacy--and the results are deeply funny.
The triumph of The Big Bang Theory is that everyone is written with genuine affection; what could have been a lifeless parade of stereotypes--Two Nerds and a Hot Chick--becomes instead a charming collision of cultures. The familiar stuff (computer games, comic books, social incompetence) has the grit of specificity; the show understands the difference between Halo and Halo 3, knows what the Bottle City of Kandor is, and grasps the infinite variety of ways in which a conversation can go terribly awry. (Penny gets less nuance, but Cuoco still gives her a distinctive personality.) Kudos as well to supporting players Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar, who bring their own variations on geekiness to the table, and to great appearances by some of Galecki's former cohorts on Roseanne--Sara Gilbert as geekette Leslie and Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon's fundamentalist mother. All in all, one of the most winning sitcoms in years. --Bret Fetzer
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For those who have yet to inhabit this universe, the show focuses on four geeks and a "normal." Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) are roommates and physicists working at Cal Tech. But these are just high tech guys, they also enjoy other geekly endeavors like comic books and video games. They usually hang out with co-workers Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar).
As the series opens, into this world walks Penny (Kaley Cuoco). She's literally the beautiful girl next door since she moves into the apartment across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon. She's an aspiring actress, which naturally means she's making a living as a waitress. Most of the guys immediately develop crushes on her, but it's Leonard who is the most serious about her.
And despite how little they have in common, the five of them begin to form a friendship. But first, Penny has to deal with Sheldon and Leonard cleaning up her place for her while she slept. Sheldon gets fired for telling his new boss exactly what he thinks of him. Leonard and Sheldon stop speaking to each other after Leonard decides to present a paper they both authored. Sheldon tries to tell a sufficiently complex lie to Penny. And Penny must take care of a sick Sheldon.
If there is any standout character that makes this show hilarious, it's Sheldon. This guy may be brilliant when it comes to his job, but he is a complete idiot when it comes to interacting with anyone. His reaction to things, or lack of reaction, makes for some of the best jokes in the show.
Watching this season also made me aware that I might have to admit to the geek label I've been avoiding for a while. I have been part of some of the conversations the guys have, although usually as an outsider. (At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
This show could easily devolve with stereotypical characters, and I'll admit that most of these characters seem to have one or two dominate traits with hints at more, even after a complete season. However, I do feel that most of the characters are real, or at least real enough that we can't help but root for them. Even Sheldon, as much as I would be ready to slap him in real life, is likable.
The exception to that is Howard. His is described on multiple occasions as creepy. While all the characters are obsessed with sex, Howard takes it to an uncomfortable low. If there are any moments that make me squirm in disgust, you can bet that he's involved. And that pretty much seems to be his only trait. It's disappointing to say the least.
Frankly, the constant sex jokes are the main reason I stopped watching at one point and still the only turn off to the show for me. They don't need them to be funny; most of the funniest scenes have come from the characters and not the sex jokes. But that's what they revert to time and time again. Additionally, the couple of times that religion has come into things, it's been treated negatively. Not too big a fan of that, but at least so far it's been minor enough that I can still enjoy the show.
The acting on the show is universally great. The main actors are great as breathing life into their characters and really rounding them out. Yes, even Simon Helberg is good as Howard. Special praise must go to Kunal Nayyar whose Raj is too terrified to talk to women. His facial expressions alone are priceless. But the undisputable star of the show is Jim Parsons. He makes anti-social Sheldon completely believable and funny without resorting to too many stereotypes. He was born for this role pure and simple.
Due to the writer's strike of the fall of 2007, there were only 17 episode in the first season. All of them are here on three discs in widescreen and stereo sound. Not surprising from a recent TV show, they look and sound great. There is one 17 minute behind the scenes type featurette that talks about the creation of the show and the characters. It's nothing too groundbreaking but interesting.
While I don't find all the sex jokes funny, when things come together perfectly, The Big Bang Theory is brilliantly funny. I used to watch lots of sitcoms, but got away from them. I'm quite happy to get back into them for season one of this show.
Sheldon: Look at our logo. Three electrons orbiting the nucleus. If you look at the CGI atom that appears between scene changes, the nucleus consists of six spheres, 3 neutrons and 3 protons, although why one of them is pink and another one is gold is beyond me-
Penny: I think the pink one is supposed to be me.
Sheldon: That would almost make sense, but then why 6 spheres? There are only 5 of us. In any event, this is clearly a lithium atom.
Howard: Actually, as a matter of fact, I used to be on lithium. Now I'm on Prozac.
Leonard: It's not supposed to represent lithium, it's just supposed to represent...atoms, and..stuff.
Sheldon: "Atoms and stuff?" Then it's meaningless. It's gaudy and comical. If we are to have a logo, it should be something we can respect.
Leonard: Thank you, Dr. Manhattan.
Sheldon: I'm serious! We need to get this logo changed to something actually relevant to the big bang theory.
Raj (whispers to Howard, smiling.)
Howard: Well, maybe, but how would you turn that into a logo?
Raj (whispers some more)
Howard: Hmm...Nah, I don't think she'd go for it
Penny: No. She wouldn't.
Sheldon: You all are talking about coitus, aren't you?
If you think any of the above is remotely humorous, get this series. It's even better.