Jun 30, 2011

[TV] The Big Bang Theory: Season 3

The Big Bang Theory: Season 3I've posted reviews for a number of long-running shows already, and the challenge of keeping the narrative fresh and interesting never truly goes away. I suppose one can only introduce a show so many times, thus making my progress through the various Star Trek franchises a long and arduous experience despite my general for the franchise as a whole. Go figure.

With this obviously geeky show, it seems a bit harder since sitcoms by their very nature rely on repetition and running gags while having the character stories progress rather slowly. At least I feel this is the typical model hence sitcoms prefer for its characters to generally return to the status quo by the end of the half hour episode almost every week.

But then there come those moments when the shows actually try to move forward, give the character more depths and try to further expand the relationships amongst themselves and with new characters introduced primarily to perform the role of romantic entanglements. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. And to try this approach with a group of socially awkward geeks? Yes, this has interesting possibilities indeed.

The Big Bang Theory was created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. This third season continues to tell the story of a group of scientist friends and their interactions with their "normal" (I use the term loosely) blond neighbor and the rest of the world at large. In many ways the show celebrates a lot of popular geek culture with various nuances and references laced into every episode.

At the end of the second season, our geek crew agreed to accompany Sheldon (Jim Parsons) on a expedition to the North Pole as part of his efforts to win a Nobel Prize for his work with magnetic monopoles. However in order to finally end the experiment and go back home (thus no longer in close confines with Sheldon), Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) had tampered with Sheldon's experiment to give him a false positive result.

On a different tack, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) returns to find that Penny (Kaley Cuoco) has realized that she has feelings for him given his absence and finally "catches a break" after multiple attempts. But now that they've finally slept together, how their sexual entanglement will affect their overall friendship and whether this will prosper into a full relationship becomes a long-running plot line for the season.

The season includes the return of many popular characters such as Sheldon's mother (Laurie Metcalf), Leonard's mother (Christine Baranski) and the annoying Barry Kripke (John Ross Bowie). It also introduces new characters like Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), who eventually becomes a romantic interest for - of all people - Howard! And of course we still had fun cameos from the likes of Marvel Comics' Stan Lee, Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff and the now "infamous" Wil Wheaton as a sort of arch nemesis for Sheldon.

Cast of characters in The Big Bang Theory. Fro...Image via WikipediaThe season had a LOT of amazing moments ranging from Sheldon losing a bet to Raj, Sheldon using chocolate to train Penny, Leonard's mom calling Howard and Raj's friendship an "ersatz homosexual relationship", everyone fighting over a prop replica of the One Ring from the LOTR movies and us finally learning what the heck happened to their building elevator. Yes, I know that was one run-on sentence, but it was worth it!

As much as the show enjoys a lot of tropes of its own making, I have to admit that I really enjoy how the characters have progressed over time. While Penny is not a hardcore geek like the guys, she has picked up more than a few things here and there. Sheldon remains socially awkward but he has developed a better grasp of certain social forms along with a basic understanding of sarcasm. And of course there's the added complication of how Howard and Raj's friendship now that Howard has a girlfriend and Raj has...no one just yet. Poor Raj.

The Big Bang Theory remains to be one of the funniest shows I've encountered on network TV, although I fear it's beginning to feel the weight of continuity when it comes to newer fans. It still gets 4 pieces of Cylon toast out of a possible 5.

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