The Big Bang Theory: Season 1
People always seem to like to make fun of the segment of our society known collectively as geeks. There have been more films and television series about this than most topics. Geeks have been ridiculed, beaten up and the recipients of the large percentage of toilet dunking than any other group. The fact is when you take a step back and look at things the Bible almost had it right; ‘The geek shall inherit the earth’. I would image that any cheerleader who laughed at a geek in her school is now kicking herself sine he turned out to be Bill Gates. Well, it is about time for another geek oriented sit-com to hit television’ The Big Bang Theory’. This series may not set the ratings on fire for CBS but it is a reasonably solid addition to their programming schedule. It has all that is required for a half hour comedy; simple premise, recognizable stars and stories that can wrap up in 22 minutes. It is far from a ratings juggernaut having never broken past the twenties in rankings and usually settling somewhere in the forties to fifties. Still, it is a refreshing change from the disturbing number of so called reality shows that fill the prime time hours. It does have an odd time slot of 8:30 on Monday night which places it against all those dreaded show looking for singers, dancers and a quick buck. There is nothing great here but the day of such ground breaking sit-coms is apparently long gone. What you do get is a light hearted and silly little show that will at least get a few laughs.
The series was created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. Both have some rather extensive experience with a number of past sit-coms. Lorre has writing credits in two more successful series on CBS; ‘CSI’ and ‘Two and a Half Men’ as well as ‘Dharma and Greg’, ‘Roseanne’ and ‘Grace Under Fire’. Prady has also worked on ‘Dharma’ and the tightly written ‘Gilmore Girls’. At least as far as television credits go these men have worked around some of the best. The premise is simple. Two CalTech physics post doctoral students are social misfits. They may know their way around a particle accelerator but they fall apart around the female of the species. They room together in a little off campus apartment house and are a bit of the nerd version of the odd couple. Low and behold moving in right next door is an incredibly beautiful young woman and to make matters worse she has just broken up with her jock boyfriend. One of the geeks is especially interested in the young woman but lacks the social skills to do much about it. This situation sets up the necessary sexual tension that is required for this format of show. You want the geek to get the girl but you realize that if this happens the show will immediately jump the shark. The producers also seem to realize this and keep the girl and geeks almost but now quite getting on track for romance.
The series has two recognizable faces in the leads. Johnny Galecki who plays the bolder of the roommates, Leonard Hofstadter was a regular for much of the run of the sit-com ‘Roseanne’. He played the boyfriend and subsequently husband of the younger daughter. He also has quite a career in independent movies such as ‘The Opposite of Sex’. He may be somewhat typecast as the nerd but the fact is he brings a lot to such roles that most actors can’t. The target of all the lust and desire in the series, Penny is played by Kaley Cuoco. She first came to instant recognition with her role in ‘8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenaged Daughter’ and after that went on with a regular spot on the final season of ‘Charmed’. She has a very natural sense of comic timing and has talent that matches her looks. The more inept roommate Sheldon Cooper is portrayed by Jim Parsons who previously had a recurring role on ‘Judging Amy’. It helps when the cast are familiar with the special demands of a weekly sit-com and all three of these actors have those abilities.
Leonard is a PhD in physics with a genius IQ. His main focus is math and many fields of science but he is more rounded with an education in several of the humanities. He loves literature and has a remarkable command of the language. He is still very much a geek with his hobbies such as Klingon Boggle. He is completely in love with Penny and does everything possible to help her out. He may be able to spout the most advanced nuances of membrane theory but he gets tongue tied around Penny. In the earlier episodes he sees Penny as an object of his lust but in short order this develops into genuine feelings and even the beginnings of love. Sheldon is also a PhD with is degree in theoretical physicist. Sheldon is proud of being a nerd and goes endlessly on about his genius and love for geek activities. When he was about 12 years old he performed an experiment that resulted in him going to a boarding school and the government stepping in. His IQ is over Leonard’s and this fact is often stated by Sheldon. He is unable to relate on any emotional level with most people. Penny is a young woman who works as a waitress in a local cheesecake shop. She has aspirations of writing a novel. It is about a girl from Lincoln, Nebraska who comes to Los Angles to become an actress but has to work as a cheesecake store. When asked if it is autobiographical she insists it can’t be since she comes from Omaha. She has recently broken up with her boyfriend of several years and since his name is on the lease she had to move. She likes hanging out with the more affable Leonard but has a general dislike for Sheldon.
The stories in each episode are fairly common for a sit-com. Penny gets into some predicament and Leonard, wanting to impress her, tries to help out. This usually results in failure and some form of humiliation for Sheldon and Leonard. In the first episode the boys try to retrieve Penny’s television from her old apartment only to have their pants taken by the ex boyfriend. In several episodes Sara Gilbert guest stars as Leslie Winkle, another scientist who turned Leonard down for a data years ago. This is a bit of stunt casting since Gilbert played opposite Galecki as his wife on ‘Roseanne. The not so inner geek comes out in the boys when Penny invites them to her Halloween party. Initially they refuse since they can’t dance but when they discover that it will be a costume party the change there minds. Anyone who has ever gone to a comic or Sci-Fi convention will understand this little joke. One thing worth noting is this series has a science advisor onset. He makes sure that the theories and facts dispensed by the geeks are real and not some made up words.
This is an enjoyable series and well worth getting into. It is lighthearted and just plain fun to watch. The comedy is not sophomoric which gives it a leg up on most sit-coms right there. This is part of CBS’ attempts to bring in a more youthful audience and it looks like they are on the right track.