Chuck Lorre has been one of the more successful television producers in recent years, co-creating "Two and a Half Men" and "Dharma and Greg" (Lorre also wrote for "Cybill", "Grace Under Fire" and "Roseanne"), two shows that are examples of both excellent writing and stellar casting. "Big Bang Theory" is Lorre's latest, and it's difficult to compare to the creator's previous pair - while the series is mildly above-average as sitcoms go these days, the series initially didn't quite connect in the way that "Dharma and Greg" or "Two and a Half Men".
The series focuses on Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons), two roommates who have the common thread of being physicists. However, while they are both quite intelligent, they haven't figured out how to use their smarts to generate the kind of social life that they want. Instead of spending time with women, the two wind up hanging out with their pals, Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar).
However, Leonard and Sheldon get a pleasant surprise when Penny (Kaley Cuoco, of "8 Simple Rules") moves in across the hall. While she's not as brainy, the gorgeous girl is kind to her geeky neighbors and she ends up learning from them as they end up learning from her. She also brings a bit of common sense at times, such as in season one's "Cooper-Hofstadter Polarization", where the guys explain to her how they just turned down their stereo by routing a signal through the internet around the world and back. She explains to them that they sell universal remotes at radio shack for cheap.
The series has some very funny moments throughout the episodes, and the show's minor issues aren't with the writing - they're with the cast. Galecki, while a good actor, doesn't have great comedic timing. Cuoco has her moments, but it takes some time in the first season before the character really gets developed. The funniest performance in the series is Parsons, who not only has the best delivery and comedic timing, but his incredibly arrogant character also gets some of the best lines.
The second season of the series still relies on a one-joke concept - hot girl lives next to geeks and the "culture clash" between the two leads to laughs) - but the writing at least improves mildly, as the gags come a little faster and are less uneven (although the geek-chic one-liners can still seem a little forced on occasion, with the exception of a few gems - Galecki's character is cheered up when he's reminded that "...only 9 more months to Comic-con.") Parsons' character also gets more screen-time, which is certainly a boost to the show - he also gets most of the best lines, including ones like "You know, it's amazing how many supervillains have advanced degrees - graduate school should really do a better job of screening those people out." Cuoco and Galecki are still not high on my list of comedic talents, but they approach their roles with a little more confidence and their timing improves noticeably. Galecki is also better playing off former "Roseanne" castmate Sara Gilbert than he does Cuoco.
Some of the highlights of the second season include: "The Bad Fish Paradigm" (Penny confides in Sheldon when she's insecure about her smarts), "The Codpiece Topology" (After Leonard and Penny break-up, he rebounds to Sheldon's nemesis, Leslie - played by Gilbert), "The Euclid Alternative" (the guys finally talk Sheldon into learning on how to drive), "The Panty Pinata Polarization" (Penny violates some of Sheldon's weird house rules), "The Work Song Nanocluster" (Sheldon combines web commerce with his very first coffee), "The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition" (Penny feels her place in the building is in trouble when another hot blonde moves into the building and flirts with the guys) and "The Monopolar Expedition" (When the guys head to the Arctic for a Summer-long expedition, they discover the place to be oddly familiar.)
By season three, Penny and Leonard are working on being a couple and you can imagine the upset this causes the group. In “The Gothowitz Deviation,” Sheldon experiments on Penny with chocolate to see if it changes her actions. Additionally, in “The Pirate Solution,” Howard feels left out when spending time with Penny and Leonard. It’s nice that the series took the chance and didn’t continue playing the game of “will they, won’t they” with Penny and Leonard. Their relationship allows the show to further explore other aspects of the show's foundation. In “The Cornhusker Vortex,” Sheldon teaches Leonard about football so he can feel more comfortable around Penny’s friends, and later Penny tries to learn more about Leonard’s world from Sheldon in “The Gorilla Experiment.”
Sheldon stands out and this year the Emmys took notice. Jim Parsons took home the award for Lead Actor in a Comedy series, beating out Alec Baldwin, Larry David, Matthew Morrison, Tony Shalhoub and Steve Carell. The episodes that center around Sheldon, Raj and Howard are usually the best. Some standouts in season three include: “The Einstein Approximation” where Sheldon tries to solve a problem by working with Penny, “The Precious Fragmentation” sees the group at odds when they get a ring from “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Wheaton Recurrence” has Sheldon compete against Will Wheaton from "Star Trek" in bowling, to name a few.
Season three continues to grow in both performance and writing. Christine Baranski returns as Leonard’s mom in “The Maternal Congruence” and gives a fantastic performance. The series is continuing to make a name for itself and it’s clear to see why. With a few misses - but several hits - season three of “The Big Bang Theory” is recommended for fans and even those who are new to the series and looking for some solid laughs.
41 21-Sep-09 The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation
42 28-Sep-09 The Jiminy Conjecture
43 05-Oct-09 The Gothowitz Deviation
44 12-Oct-09 The Pirate Solution
45 19-Oct-09 The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary
46 02-Nov-09 The Cornhusker Vortex
47 09-Nov-09 The Guitarist Amplification
48 16-Nov-09 The Adhesive Duck Deficiency
49 23-Nov-09 The Vengeance Formulation
50 07-Dec-09 The Gorilla Experiment
51 14-Dec-09 The Maternal Congruence
52 11-Jan-10 The Psychic Vortex
53 18-Jan-10 The Bozeman Reaction
54 01-Feb-10 The Einstein Approximation
55 08-Feb-10 The Large Hadron Collision
56 01-Mar-10 The Excelsior Acquisition
57 08-Mar-10 The Precious Fragmentation
58 22-Mar-10 The Pants Alternative
59 12-Apr-10 The Wheaton Recurrence
60 03-May-10 The Spaghetti Catalyst
61 10-May-10 The Plimpton Stimulation
62 17-May-10 The Staircase Implementation
63 24-May-10 The Lunar Excitation
VIDEO: "Big Bang Theory" is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.78:1 (1080p/AVC). The series was certainly given terrific treatment on this third season DVD set, as the episodes looked better than I remember them appearing when they were first broadcast. Sharpness and detail are superb, and the image remained clear and well-defined throughout. While a few minor instances of shimmering were noticed, the picture otherwise was free of flaws. Colors had a very nice pop at all times, looking well-saturated and spot-on accurate.
SOUND: The show is presented with a crisp, clear stereo soundtrack. Dialogue, music and effects all seemed recorded well.
“Takeout With the Cast of The Big Bang Theory” The cast discuss several moments from season 3 over Chinese food. This is a fun, relaxed approach to the usual featurette. Also on the Blu-Ray is a “Set Tour with Simon and Kunal” and a “Gag Reel.” Features are fun and recommended for fans.
Final Thoughts: “Big Bang Theory” does see a few changes in Season 3 without losing its originality. With a few misses and several hits, season three of “The Big Bang Theory” is recommended for fans and even those who are new to the series and looking for some solid laughs.