Jun 16, 2011

[TV] The Big Bang Theory: Season 1

The Big Bang Theory: Season 1Here's another classic case of a show that slipped through the geeky cracks. As much as I do my best to post reviews of pretty much everything that I read, watch or experience, for one reason or another I have yet to get around to posting reviews for this particular show. This feels terribly ironic given the sheer geekiness of this show and the fact that has already ended its fourth season.

And I have nothing against the show, mind you. I've been a pretty regular fan since I first heard about shortly after the end of their first season. And that's not too bad a delay given I live outside of North America. Seriously.

Shows like this have done a great job of promoting geek culture, although at the same time it has played to certain stereotypes that we're also trying to shake off. But for better or for worse, the show has definitely developed a strong fan base in the geek community and it has probably helped more people better appreciate who we are, why we dress up the way we do and how a lot of the things we invest time in are all about celebrating our fandoms, likes and interests. And that's rarely a bad thing, right?

The Big Bang Theory is a comedy TV series on CBS. The show was created by executive producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady together with head writers Lee Aronsohn and Steve Molaro.

Kaley Cuoco at The Big Bang Theory panel at th...Image via WikipediaThe show focuses on a group of geeky scientists friends whose lives get shook up a bit when an attractive blonde neighbor moves in next door. The girl in question is Penny (Kaley Cuoco), who is your classic aspiring Hollywood actress who is making ends meet as a waitress as the local Cheesecake Factory. The main geeks next door are Leonard Hofstadter Ph.D (Johnny Galecki), an experimental physicist and Sheldon Cooper Ph.D (Jim Parsons), a theoretical physicist. The two work together at Caltech together with friends Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), an aerospace engineer and Rajesh Koothrappali Ph.D (Kunal Nayyar), a particle astrophysicist.

This first season has Leonard acting the typical geek who spots a pretty girl - he becomes to determined to go out with her even though his friends tell him he doesn't have a shot at it. Nor does he do anything amazingly romantic to sweep her off her feet given the usual social awkwardness one associates with intellectuals. As expected, geeky hilarity ensues.

The real highlight of the show (being memorable is not necessarily purely good or bad after all) has to be Sheldon, who personifies the extremely anti-social segment of the geek world. He's an intellectual monster with little sense of humor, humility or basic social skills that do not benefit him. And yet because of all his personality quirks and awkwardness, he becomes all the more endearing in terms of how he deals with the world, the new neighbor Penny and how everyone else seems to interested in the opposite sex.

Howard is your Jewish boy next boy grown up into a slightly perverted man. With him come all the classic jokes about Jewish men and their mothers (especially since Howard still lives with his) and the fact that he's the only one in their circle of friends without a Ph.D. He routinely assaults women with what he believes to be amazing pick-up lines that rarely work. His main wing man of sorts is Raj, who is very determined to meet women and yet is unable to speak to them directly. The only way he overcomes his social awkwardness is through massive amounts of alcohol, thus leading him to say a lot more than what he originally hoped to, by all measures.

This first season goes through the typical sitcom pattern of almost each episode being largely independent of the other. Each little adventure pretty much seems to exist outside of time apart from the slow progress of Leonard's attempts to get closer to Penny. The good thing about this is that each episode plays out like a totally new show with the characters dealing with whatever has caught their attention for the episode. And slowly but surely, we find Penny getting deeper and deeper into the geek world, whether she wants to or not.

Each episode is amazingly overloaded with geek references from start to finish. Apart from the more obvious stuff included in the dialog and whatever the geeks might be watching / playing, there's also almost every object in Leonard and Sheldon's apartment, the stuff scribbled on the white boards and of course Sheldon's rather amazingly geeky shirt collection. ENVY! It's a treasure trove for any geek, regardless of whether you're interested in comic books, science fiction, fantasy, toys and whatnot. If there's a geek group devoted to it, then you can expect it'll appear in the show sooner or later.

The Big Bang Theory is a really funny show that does its part in making geek humor somewhat accessible to a wider range of people. At times it means that people end up laughing at the geeks instead of with them, but you have to take what progress you can get. This first season gets 4 hilarious instances of Sheldon totally missing the sarcasm in a remark out of a possible 5.

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