Monday, September 24, 2007

Fall 2007 TV: The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Well, how about that. Imagine my surprise to find out this show actually isn't as horrible as the commercials made it look!

Possibly because of my lowered expectations, I wound up enjoying The Big Bang Theory a lot more than anticipated. The chemistry between the two leads is very funny and believable -- and I'm talking here about the two lead nerds, not the nerd and the blonde neighbor.

I've liked Johnny Galecki (as lead nerd Leonard) since his days on Roseanne, where he first began perfecting his sensitive nerd routine. I'm not familiar with Jim Parsons, who plays the other main nerd, Sheldon, but he's very funny here, as the kind of nerd whose heightened understanding of the universe leads to the uncontrollable blurting of uncomfortable truths to those less evolved (i.e. the blonde neighbor hung up on astrology), and whose comfort zone is easily violated (as when blonde neighbor sits in his seat). Galecki and Parsons have a nice back-and-forth between them, and while many of their jokes are clunkers, I laughed at a respectable percentage of them.

"Blonde neighbor" is Penny, played by Kaley Cuoco of 8 Simple Rules. She's the very pretty new tenant in the building who throws the nerds for a loop. As a comedic actress... she's very pretty. She's not awful, but she doesn't have much to do other than look pretty and react with adorable puzzlement to her new supergenius friends. I'm not confident that if she had more to do, she could do it, so perhaps this is for the best.

It's not a tremendously strong show. Starting the episode off in a sperm bank was a misstep, introducing the characters in an unusual and somewhat unseemly setting, already out of their element, when it would've been better to see them comfortable at first, perhaps at their work, and then forced out of their element by Penny's introduction (though I did laugh at the payoff later in the episode: when Penny asks what they do for fun, Sheldon replies, "Well, today we tried masturbating for money"). And the whole show is powerfully traditional (not in a flattering way) in terms of staging and punchline delivery -- though Galecki and Parsons offer some nice variations.

But I laughed at it several times, and I like the lead characters. Since I'll probably be watching the show anyway, considering its timeslot (right after How I Met Your Mother), it's good to see I won't be hating it, and that there's a chance it might develop into something genuinely worthwhile, rather than simply an amiable timekiller.

Rating: 6 out of 10

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