Rajnesh Koothrappali: I'll tell you what. How about we go rock-paper-scissors?
Sheldon Cooper: Ooh, I don't think so. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the game of rock-paper-scissors, players familiar with each other will tie 75 to 80% of the time due to the limited number of outcomes. I suggest rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock.
Rajnesh Koothrappali: What?
Sheldon Cooper: It's very simple. Scissors cuts paper. Paper covers rock. Rock crushes lizard. Lizard poisons Spock. Spock smashes scissors. Scissors decapitates lizard. Lizard eats paper. Paper disproves Spock. Spock vaporizes rock. And as it always has, rock crushes scissors.
Here’s a bold claim – The Big Bang Theory is the smartest, funniest show on the big four networks. Heck, it comes close to surpassing the very best that cable has to offer (Psych, anyone?), but this inimitable blend of nerd exploration and underdog mirth is rife with some of the very best comedic moments to be found on television today.
Four of the smartest, socially inadequate individuals grate nerves, intellectually jostle and jovially prod and poke one another as they face the seemingly insurmountable social mores of meeting girls and understanding their gorgeous friend, Penny. Without question the smartest of the four is Sheldon (Jim Parsons), who lives in a world where pure logic can be applied to any situation (from an evaluation of string theory to the algorithm for making new friends). A pompous but lovable soul, happily entangled in the complexities of obsessive compulsive tendencies, rigid routines, and robust rules that trap and guide his three friends that tolerate his idiosyncrasies, and accept his peculiar mode of navigating the world.
As Sheldon’s suffering roommate is Leonard (Johnny Galecki), perhaps the most relatable, socially experienced of the four high-IQ friends. His affection for their beautiful neighbor, Penny, which expresses itself in bursts of awkward schoolboy grins and oddly placed verbal flattery, is a core element of the show; a running ‘almost’ relationship that is enticed by Penny’s well hidden reciprocation of feelings from time to time. Next up is Rajesh Koothrappali, another PhD holding individual, whose smarts immeasurably outweigh his ability to even talk to pretty women - a task that renders him mute and as mature as a 7-year old pupil with a crush on a teacher. The lovely Penny lives across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard and has slowly become an integral part of the group. Though she glazes over when the complex astro-, and particle-physicist vocabulary is in full swing, she adds a human side to the rampant intelligence that bounces within the walls of her neighbor’s apartment.
And finally we have Howard Wolowitz, the only non-PhD in the four (he is a lowly engineer, though he works on NASA projects). Wolowitz live with his mother, smolders with inappropriate confidence in wooing the ladies, and suffers from a wildly gaudy sense of dress and woefully overzealous sexual charm.
Three physicists, an engineer, and a gorgeous blond waitress-cum-actress wannabe make up the geeky, gooey center of this terrifically funny sit-com. A show that exists within the trappings of the age-old sit-com, but defies expectations with deliciously nerd-like forays into the world of Star Trek, Star Wars, and all manner of sci-fi goodness. The ‘nerdiness’ appeals on face value to a broad audience as they giggle at the geeks, and for the geeks, there is an abundance of winks, nods and deliriously generous high-fives to the world of comic-books and Comicon, tips of the hat that many of us every-day nerds (as in, non-genius) can embrace with knowing grins.
With plenty of real-life science concepts, theories, explorations, and discoveries making up plot and conversation points throughout the episodes, casual fans of astrophysics; people like me who love to read about dark matter, dark energy, string theory, quantum mechanics, and a host of other ideas I can barely wrap my brain around, The Big Bang Theory is a goldmine.
The scripts are quite simply the smartest – with tongue-twisting exchanges that amaze and amuse us in equal measure, delivered with perfection by a cast whose talents are matched by their chemistry. Sheldon stands-out with truly the most amazing runs of big words and ideas in his infinite bid to prove he is the smartest, and gleefully the nerdiest, of them all. His pragmatic and logic-driven understanding and expression of all things create full-on belly laughs almost every time he opens his mouth. Take this moment, when Sheldon provides an unintended snide comment on his friend’s untenable predicament:
“I believe the appropriate metaphor here involves a river of excrement and a Native American water vessel without any means of propulsion.”
This deliberate method of expression is balanced through the series with self-knowing, self-deprecating commentary from the others, like this comment from Wolowitz after Koothrappali wants to make sure everyone is game for their evening plan to meet and pick up chicks:
“Yes. Koothrappali's gonna wet himself, I will throw up, Sheldon's going to run away, and you're going to die. Shall we synchronize our watches?
Always a pleasure to watch, the ensemble cast take the well-crafted dialogue and turns funny into hilarious with scientific precision.
Episode 1 - The Bad Fish Paradigm
Episode 2 - The Codpiece Topology
Episode 3 - The Barbarian Sublimation view
Episode 4 - The Griffin Equivalency
Episode 5 - The Euclid Alternative
Episode 6 - The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem
Episode 7 - The Panty Pinata Polarization
Episode 8 - The Lizard-Spock Expansion
Episode 9 - The White Asparagus Triangulation
Episode 10 - The Vartabedian Conundrum
Episode 11 - The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis
Episode 12 - The Killer Robot Instability
Episode 13 - The Friendship Algorithm
Episode 14 - The Financial Permeability
Episode 15 - The Maternal Capacitance
Episode 16 - The Cushion Saturation
Episode 17 - The Terminator Decoupling
Episode 18 - The Work Song Nanocluster
Episode 19 - The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition
Episode 20 - The Hofstadter Isotope
Episode 21 - The Vegas Renormalization
Episode 22 - The Classified Materials
Episode 23 - The Monopolar Expedition Online
The Video: 4 out of 5
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season is presented by Warner Bros. on DVD with its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, matching how it can be seen on CBS’ HD broadcast. Though not as crisp as the HD broadcast, the colors are as striking with a bright and bold, happy, and friendly array of colors that showcase the fresh look of the show. Warner Bros. have provided all 23 episodes of this second season over four discs, and the image is good. Clean, bright, good level of details and just a little north of natural – you will be pleased.
The Sound: 4 out of 5
One of the distinct audio elements of the show when I watch this on TV is the transition effect used between scenes. Particles buzzing and zipping around fly from front, to rear, enveloping the surround speakers. Surprisingly, that same effect is reproduced here with just the Dolby Surround Sound (versus the 5.1 for the CBS broadcast). Audio is clean and free of issues in the center and front speakers, and crowd guffaws and applause come through fully.
The Extras: 3.5 out of 5
Physicist to the Stars: (10:09) – Series consultant, an real-life Particle-Astrophysicist Dr. David Saltzberg, Phd, discusses how he became involved with the show, his fun in adding the scientific concepts for discussion by the characters, and the warm reaction the show has received from the scientific community – which is both ribbed and revered by the show.
Testing the Infinite Hilarity Hypothesis in Relation to The Big Bang Theory: (15:30) – Interview with series creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and show regulars – a fun look at the actor’s perspective of their characters.
Gag Reel: (8:51) - Many gag reels today present fast cuts of line flubs, or incongruent selections of cast members breaking into laughter – rendering them capable of delivering only the mildest of giggles…this gag reel, however, running almost nine minutes, is rife with hilarity as we watch the actors forget lines and trip up over the dialogue with sharp sides.
I cannot recommend this show enough. Though the series creator’s other creations may leave me a little bewildered (Two and a Half Men, Gilmore Girls), The Big Bang Theory is a genuinely terrific comedy; and light years ahead of every other comedy on terrestrial television. The big four networks, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox are struggling with less than original scripted shows, an abundance of ‘reality’ nonsense, and a financial paradigm that is yielding diminishing returns. There are precious few original bright spots in the landscape at the moment, but one of the brightest is this intelligent, witty comedy with a likeable cast of characters, and a rewardingly original set of situations and predicaments for the each to find themselves in. Beam this one directly to your view-screens and make contact with the strange new world of four scientists and a blonde bombshell as soon as you can. Engage!
Overall Score 4 out of 5