For the most part, I tend to watch television very analytically. It’s very rare for me to find a program that I can just let myself turn off my brain and enjoy. The Big Bang Theory, now in it’s fourth season, is one of those rare exceptions. There’s just something entertaining about this group of characters, no matter how ridiculous the stories may be. For being a show about a group of geniuses, the show can be very stupid. And yet, it’s almost always funny.
The show revolves around the interactions between four nerdy physics geniuses and Penny, the down-to-earth blonde next door. The first couple of years were spent integrating her into their circle, and by the third year, she was officially one of the group. It is in this season that she began dating Leonard, probaby the most normal of the four. Because the writers took so long getting them together, it feels natural by the time the inevitable hookup occurs. They may not have a lot in common, but their chemistry is believable.
At times, the characterizations delve into over-the-top caricatures, but they’re always grounded by their interactions with each other. All five members of the cast are hilarious, and bring their own unique sensibilities to their characters. The standout is Leonard’s roommate Sheldon, as played by Jim Parsons. He is arguably the most eccentric of the bunch, completely lacking in any and all social skills. The character is grating and obnoxious, and yet Parsons has found a way to make him likeable. Portrayed almost like a child with a genius IQ, there is an innocence behind his abrasiveness. Somehow, he makes it endearing.
The remaining cast members are Howard and Raj. While they are always a part of the main cast, their purpose seems to be providing one-liners, and occassionally having their own stories on the side. Don’t get me wrong, they are very funny as well. It just feels like they are an extension of the main cast. Shows like this always give ideosyncracies to all of it’s characters, and Howard and Raj are no exception. For example, Howard still lives with his mother, and Raj can’t speak around women unless he is drunk.
Therein lies one of my biggest problems with the show at this point. They started the joke with Raj not speaking to women in the first season. The show has already begun it’s fourth year, and they are still milking that joke. I understand that sitcoms don’t evolve their characters all that frequently, but when a defining characteristic is a punchline, the writers might want to consider trying something new. All of the characters seem to have the same quirks as when they began. They have evolved in terms of their interactions with each other, but not in terms of the humor.
Despite this, it’s still a very funny show. The constant pop-culture references always make me laugh (especiallly a still-ongoing battle between Sheldon and Wil Wheaton, playing himself). I also enjoy the catchphrases and running gags. It’s a very old-school show in terms of humor, lacking the sophistication of something like Modern Family or 30 Rock. However, in the right context, broad humor such as this can be very funny.
There aren’t many extras on the Blu-Ray set for Season 3. In fact, there are only three bonus features. There’s a gag reel, a tour of the set, and a brief question and answer session with the cast while they’re hanging out on the set. I did appreciate getting to see the actors for who they really are, and not the characters I’ve always associated them with. However, there isn’t a lot of substance.
Overall, this is a very entertaining, and very popular show. It’s just fun to watch. Every episode is practically interchangable, and yet I still find myself looking forward to it each week. There’s no need to pick up the previous seasons in order to catch up for the current year; however, if you’re just looking for a mindless but entertaining diversion, than this would be a great option.