Look out! Nerds are taking over movies and TV! Suddenly I’m the cool one because I know the alternate and conflicting origins of Wolverine and just how badly the new movie screwed them up. All my friends that were the “cool” ones would be eaten alive at Comic-Con, which if you were lucky enough to bare witness to, you would know that Hollywood is really into “Geek Chic” right now. When every comic book from “Thor” to “Green Lantern” to “Green Hornet” is being picked up to be another franchise opportunity, a show that centers around social outcasts with a plethora of nerd-knowledge is bound to be a hit in the current market trends. I’m a self-proclaimed nerd and because of that and because “The Big Bang Theory” relishes in its nerd-dom it is easily one of the funniest shows on TV right now and definitely keeping the “traditional sitcom” alive. More after the jump:
The show’s premise is simple, in the first season a beautiful blonde struggling actress named Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moved in across the hall from two uber-geek physicists, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), who know everything about the world through books, but have no idea how to relate to reality. Of course both are smitten with her and hilarity and awkwardness ensue. The second season picks up with a relationship potential for Leonard and Penny that is quickly dashed because let’s face it, nerds are funnier when they are pining for the pretty girl, not when they actually have her. The show focuses on building the relationships and exploring new “fish-out-of-water” situations to put Leonard and Sheldon in, with their friends Rajesh and Howard joining the nerd train. The comedy comes from what would be normal interactions, that these guys turn incredibly awkward with their immense lack of social skills.
Let’s get down to business, the real reason this show is a hit and my only real reason for repeat viewing of episodes is Sheldon, played to neurotic and sometimes robotic brilliance by Jim Parsons. He is such a mess, whether it’s over-analyzing the accuracy of the local renaissance fair or judging Penny’s attention to safety because she’s ignoring her “Check Engine” light, he is always hilarious. He spouts off what seems like pages of facts and statistics in a matter of seconds like a spastic super-computer and his comedic timing is dead-on. Every scene he’s in is gold. He puts all other nerds on TV and film, past and present to shame.
I really like the interactions between Penny and Sheldon, she plays the “straight woman” well and gives him a lot to feed off of. Kaley Cuoco is a very charming and quick, an actress who has a good grasp on comedic timing and just the right balance of “sitcom acting.” She’s attractive, but not in an off-putting phony way like any number of “CW actresses” that are pretty to look at, but completely vacuous and interchangeable. I believe that she’s a Midwest girl trying to make it in LA. I wish I could say the same for Leonard, Johnny Galecki’s character, who most the time just comes off as whiny and trying too hard. I buy that Sheldon is a nerd, I sometimes buy Leonard, but most the time feel like he’s trying to tweak his voice and squint his eyes or posture himself into being a nerd, instead of just being himself and trusting he is nerdy enough without adding more. Sheldon is so bizarre, all Leonard would have to do is stand there and play off of him, which he does most the time. I really feel like the analogy “adding sugar to something sweet” is the perfect way to describe Johnny Galecki’s performance, it always feels a bit forced or too much. I don’t think he does a bad job, but Jim Parsons is like the Daniel Day Lewis of nerds, so everyone pales in comparison when his character is written so well and given so much to work with. I could sit back and just watch the Sheldon and Penny show and laugh my ass off.
Every episode has several laugh out loud moments and for the most part the cast works very well together. I highly recommend this show if you’re a nerd or just feel like jumping on the nerd bandwagon. There’s enough standard sitcom slapstick humor, mixed with some of the smartest writing and joke construction I’ve seen in a sitcom for a long time. The writers and the cast really play to the height of their intelligence and assume, for once, that we as American TV audiences have a brain and will find “smart stuff” funny, so kudos to them for taking the risk and succeeding. “The Big Bang Theory” is a smart, trendy, neurotic, fast-paced, and hilarious show.
Physicist to the Stars- Featurette on real-life physisist/UCLA professor David Saltzberg’s consultation with the show’s more “heady” dialogue
Testing the Infinite Hilarity Hypothesis- Featurette on the characters of the show and the endless comedy that can be pulled from them