“The Nerd Empire Strikes Back” for season three of The Big Bang Theory and the gang is back and up to their usual shenanigans. Raj is still too nervous to talk around Penny, Howard is willing to try anything to get laid (even almost get a tattoo), Sheldon is still a hilarious and neurotic mess, and Leonard and Penny are dating. Wait a minute, that’s a new development… Now Sheldon has to deal with being the third wheel to Penny and Leonard’s tumultuous and severely awkward relationship. This season delivers the same amount of laughs as the last two and Sheldon is still the NERD KING, but the flaws of the more standard sitcom jokes and some performances are starting to stick out more this time around.
I reviewed season 2 last year and if you want to check out my thoughts on that along with the premise for the show, click here. The funny thing the third time around is, I don’t have much of a different opinion on the show. There’s different awkward social situations to put the gang in, including Raj and Howard trying to pick up chicks at a Goth bar and a surprise cameo by Stan Lee, or even the episode where Sheldon learns he can get Penny to do what he wants based on the positive rewards system of giving her chocolates; but the show is pretty much business as usual. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because it’s a funny show and one of the best traditional sitcoms on TV right now. So if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The elements of the show that work, work really well, but there are a few things that could be tweaked.
This is still the Sheldon and Penny show; they are the perfect foil to each other. Penny is great as the straight woman to Sheldon’s extreme personality. Raj and Howard have moments of brilliance, but fall into the clichéd joke category on various occasions. The show does a great job of balancing really smart jokes with the traditional set-up, punch line sitcom style. I’m not a huge fan of the standard shticky material, which Big Bang predominantly gives to the side characters. I prefer the more uber intelligent, narcissistic rants of Sheldon, but in all fairness Raj and Howard do their jobs well as the comedic sidekicks. And now for the problem child, Leonard played by Johnny Galecki. The same problems I had with his performance last season stick out even more this season. He does this thing where he delivers 75% of his lines with his chin raised looking up at the ceiling in a pseudo whiny tone. I don’t know if it’s some sort of quirky character choice or just a bad habit, but it doesn’t serve the show. The other nerds in the show I buy as true nerds, Leonard still feels like he’s trying a little to hard and pushing the performance a bit. On top of that, the love story between him and Penny is a little far-fetched. I know in sitcom history it’s a grand tradition that the nerd or the schlumpy guy gets the hot girl for comedic purpose, but I don’t believe these two people would ever have sex. Penny is just too damn charming and pretty, while Leonard is just, well Leonard. There are moments when Johnny Galecki allows Leonard to simply exist in the scenes and be the straight man, those are his golden moments. I would like to see more of that. He just needs to ease up on the gas to the nerd engine and it would make the show 100% awesome, instead of chuckle worthy until Sheldon comes around.
The Penny and Leonard love story may not be very believable, but it does bring ripe comedic territory for Sheldon. He now has to react to being the third wheel in all their social outings and having a girl disrupt his weekly routines, including French toast on Mondays, when clearly Mondays are for oatmeal. So I see why the creators made the leap to get this love story going. It may not be sitcoms most realistic match, but if it serves to make Sheldon even more confused by human behavior, then I guess I can get on board.
Sheldon is the show. He is brilliant with everything scientific and completely clueless with anything human. The show still delivers more laughs per episode than most traditional sitcoms out there and its fast pace is great for nerd marathons. Not to mention, it’s always fun to watch a show where you get all the inside jokes. When Sheldon becomes his own version of Gollum, all I can say is that it’s priceless. All the “issues” I have with the show are quickly forgotten because Sheldon is simply one of the best written characters in TV history and the creators know that and continue to let him shine and the others play off him. Worth checking out and a sitcom that’s definitely worthy to stick around for awhile longer.
Takeout with the Cast – The Cast discusses their favorite Season 3 moments
Set Tour with Simon and Kunal – funny behind the scenes featurette
Gag Reel – I’m a sucker for actors messing up lines.
Rating: B+ (Show), C+ (Features–could have been more fanboy stuff)