Category: Big Bang Theory

'Big Bang' recap: Guess who's going to man up?

March31 
You know that drowsy feeling you get after the first 10 minutes of a really bad animated children’s movie -– somewhere between sleep and death? That’s the feeling I got at certain moments of this week’s episode. So Sheldon’s game account was hacked? Big deal. If I could care less, I would cease to exist.

Of course, the producer and writers turn the situation into an examination of manhood in the 21st century. If this is what is to become of the Comic-Con generation, maybe we’re all headed for extinction. This show has some funny lines, most of them delivered by Kaley Cuoco, the only non-alien among the big cast. She seems to have her character figured out, and I’m not sure that’s the case for most of the others. And, more and more, does Jim Parsons remind you of a damsel in a Tennessee Williams play? The guy’s got comedy chops, but I’m not sure how well that character wears. He’s like a dude on a hot tin roof.

Best line, by Cuoco, on her first visit to a beach with Leonard: “He was so phobic about stepping on medical waste, I had to carry him to the water.”

She also had the best moment in the episode. After warning the guys, “I’m gonna show you how we finish a quest in Nebraska,” she confronts the cyber thief in a way men used to, with a swift kick to the cha-chas. Take that, Todd Zarnecki.

Guess we’re building toward some sort of Penny-Priya showdown at the end of the season. Now, that would be a fight.

--Chris Erskine

Photo: Kaley Cuoco, left, as usual, the best thing about "The Big Bang Theory." Photo credit: Chuck Zlotnick / CBS

'Big Bang Theory' recap: Love is in the lair

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The beds were abuzz this week on Big Bang, with hook-ups happening all around. Losers getting lucky? Only on Valentine's week, I guess.

Raj’s sister Priya was back in town, the silky-haired Indian princess who smashed Leonard's (Johnny Galecki) heart like a champagne glass the last time she was in Pasadena. In a parallel story, Howard finally moved out of his mother’s house and shacked up with Bernadette, who proved not to be so maternal. Once again, the boys prove more adept at quantum physics than quantum emotions. For a bunch of hyper-sensitive guys, life’s nuances are just beyond them.

One thing I've been noticing of late is that Galecki has a Kelsey Grammar quality about him, an endearing sort of hang-doggedness. Of all the characters, he’s the closest to figuring other people out, yet he’s still humbled by the twists and turns they throw at him. Galecki’s skills help humanize Big Bang’s frantic comic-book excesses. In short, he keeps things real.

Bang hasn’t used Galecki very well this season, but he's reemerged in the last two episodes. His world-weary, why-me character had a great game last week with an older widow played by Jessica Walter, in a fine guest appearance.  

“You’re really a broken toy, aren’t you?” Penny noted, as Leonard struggled with how to handle the advances of a beautiful 70-year-old.

This week, it was Raj’s sister throwing him into right-brain turmoil. When she last visited, Priya rejected Leonard’s attempts to make their relationship more serious. Now, they land in bed again, with the boundaries still in debate. But this time, Penny is the one whose heart is shattered at the thought that Leonard, her ex, is smitten with someone else. For Penny, it’s not just that she’s lost her soul mate; it’s that she’s lost him to someone more impressive than she is.

Rather nice episode, all in all. This well-acted show is best when the plot skitters along like this and the characters have plenty to do.

Meanwhile, here’s a very unscientific ranking of my favorite Bang characters, best to least:

CHARACTER INDEX

1. Leonard: The one character you’d actually like to have as a friend. 

2. Penny: Her droll one-liners are usually the best of the week.

3. Bernadette: Sweet, surprising, funny.

4. Sheldon: In many ways, the show’s comic centerpiece, yet Bang works best when he’s not quite so front-and-center. Does that make sense? (Think Kobe Bryant).

5. Howard:  Like him a lot, but wish he were not quite so cartoonish.

6. Raj: The writers give him plenty of chances, but he’s batting about .129.

7. Amy Farrah Fowler: Total buzz kill.

-- Chris Erskine

Photo: Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) set up house in Feb. 17 episode. Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

 

'Big Bang Theory' recap: Too much Red Bull?

  Bang3 

            “The Big Bang Theory” has become a CBS version of the Lakers – so good one night, so bad another. This remarkably successful, silly little show must be driving the network crazy right now. In search of something steady to possibly replace the very unsteady “Two and a Half Men,” it gets this bipolar product. Is Bang fresh and smart, or goofy and over the top? The answer is ... duh.

            Thursday was another example of how Bang can have laugh-out-loud moments followed by messes of excess. The episode revolves around Sheldon bombing in front of a college class, and then taking steps to improve his teaching performance. He enlists Penny to give him acting lessons, a very funny premise. This highly verbal show has some of the trickiest set-ups and punchlines on television, but we see again that it really soars with the quick one-liners.

            Her: “You’d like an acting class?”

            Him: “Perhaps two. I’d like to master the craft.”

             Their improv session’s “I’d like a frozen yogurt, please” is the funniest line of the night, a wonderful, surprising right-turn no one sees coming.

             Unfortunately, Sheldon and Penny have a second, too-long acting class. It features “Star Trek” references meshed with biographical stuff on Sheldon, and though there are a couple of laughs, it’s not as good as the first acting class.  It might’ve been much funnier to put Sheldon back in the classroom to see how he’d do after his acting lessons with Penny. At least there would’ve been some build up to the story.

             The B-story is another Raj-needs-a-girlfriend riff that ends with a jump-the-shark Bollywood dance number. That scene reminded me of the dangers of too much Red Bull. I’ve been meaning to cut back, and now I will. So maybe I should be more grateful.

        Meanwhile, Melissa Rauch’s sweet Bernadette becomes more likable with every appearance, but when she and Raj are each getting more lines than Leonard, it’s a sign that the world of Big Bang has begun to wobble off its axis.

--Chris Erskine

Photo: Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) have a jump-the-shark moment in the Feb. 3 episode. Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS

'Big Bang Theory' recap: Bernadette's Foxy ex-boyfriend

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Sometimes, "Bang" seems like a top-10 sitcom almost by default. Hardly the glory days of the genre, though shows like “Modern Family” have raised the bar. The most recent episode, featuring a too-short cameo by former Laker heartthrob Rick Fox, is an example of the close-but-no-cigar quality the show often suffers from. And, no, that is not some sort of veiled penis joke.

There were plenty of those this week as the show slid back to the sort of crude humor it often leans on. There were good moments too, as the geek squad heads off to a conference in Big Sur. I don’t much like when multi-camera shows leave the set, but this road trip worked well enough. The quick scenes between cars worked and kept things popping along, and Fox did a decent job in his walk-on as Bernadette’s former boyfriend, Glenn. This development sends Howard spinning out and results in a lot of musical beds at the Big Sur hotel where they’re staying. The best, as often is the case, are the scenes between  Penny and Leonard. His lightning response to her offer of intimacy – jumping into her bed instantly – was a true laugh-out-loud moment.

Where does this leave the shows's golden couple? When we last saw Leonard, he was speeding back to L.A. after Penny had hitched a ride with Fox. The ex-Laker could have a nice run as a recurring character on the show, similar to Tom Selleck’s stint on “Friends.” There’s always something a little intriguing about the gang’s assumptions about good-looking people.

Meanwhile, funny enough episode. No depth. No pathos. None of the things that turn good shows into great ones. But "Bang" seems content with that. And as long as the ratings remain good, nothing much is going to change.

--Chris Erskine

Photo: Rick Fox, left, appears on "The Big Bang Theory," with Melissa Rauch as Bernadette and Simon Helberg's Howard. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS

Ex-Laker Rick Fox goes geek on 'The Big Bang Theory'

Rick fox 
"The Big Bang Theory" gets off its rerun treadmill with a new episiode Thursday featuring former Laker Rick Fox. In it, he plays an ex-boyfriend of the rather mousy Bernadette, Howard's girlfriend. Don't know if that's going against type for him or for her, but it's bound to mess with Howard's rather fragile psyche. He still lives with his mother, after all. Until now, his biggest rival for Bernadette's affections has been himself.

Fox has kept a steady acting career going since his screen debut in 1994 in William Friedkin’s "Blue Chips." His breakout role came on the hit HBO series “Oz,” where he played Jackson Vahue.

Since then, Rick has appeared in over a dozen network shows. He recently played club owner Mason Davies in CW’s “Melrose Place.”

Look for more on his "Big Bang Theory" appearance Thursday.

-- Chris Erskine

Photo: Former Laker Rick Fox with Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Howard (Simon Helberg) on "The Big Bang Theory. Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

CBS gives the Vulcan salute to three more years of 'The Big Bang Theory'

Bigbangtheory CBS has given its nerd sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" an unusual three-year renewal, which will carry the show through the 2013-14 TV season.

"Big Bang Theory," now in its fourth season, is the key of CBS' aggressive push into Thursday comedies, an arena traditionally dominated by NBC. The show has taken some ratings heat in moving from Mondays to Thursdays this year but it has helped CBS raise its Thursday numbers. This season, the comedy is averaging 13.9 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Co., which is up 7% in the time slot.

Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, "Big Bang Theory" stars Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons as two science geniuses; Kaley Cuoco is their attractive neighbor.

"It doesn't take a theoretical physicist to see why this show is a big part of our comedy future," CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler said in a statement.

What do you think? Are you up for three more years of "Big Bang"?

-- Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Jim Parsons in "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS

'Big Bang Theory' recap: The can't-miss idea misses the mark

Parsons6 
This episode sort of gags on its own geekiness. It also points out that too much Sheldon is not necessarily a good thing. As talented as Jim Parsons is, the show seems more successful when he’s not the center of attention for 22 minutes.

This week, the boys are out to develop a new phone app to help scientists quickly solve routine equations. At least, they’re routine for geniuses.

This is treacherous territory already. The guys spend long nights penciling out the new application, and while these guys can be pretty entertaining in almost any activity, watching them do homework feels like homework. The fireworks begin when Sheldon tries to take control of the project, which was Leonard’s idea. Leonard ends up firing him. Penny tries to console Sheldon, and pretty soon he is driving her nuts as well.

By the time it’s over, I think even the audience is pretty annoyed with Sheldon. Few laughs here, though there is a nice kicker of Sheldon and Penny trying to develop a shoe app. There was more to mine in a show like this: lessons in teamwork, the elusiveness of the Big Idea, how money subverts friendships. This storyline managed to miss any of that.

All in all, one of the weaker episodes of the season, just when the show seemed to be finding its feet again.

Hey, is there an app for that?

--Chris Erskine

Photo: Jim Parsons’ character is often better in smaller doses; file shot by Sonja Flemming/CBS           

'Big Bang' recap: A Festivus of one-liners

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CBS is the “one-liner network” –- my motto, not theirs –- but the folks there would be hard-pressed to dispute that assessment. They’ve ridden it right to first place in the ratings. Thing is, it gets the network no respect. One critic said NBC shows tend to be smart but not funny. CBS, he says, features shows that are funny but not smart. Funny rules.

"The Big Bang Theory" is the network’s smartest sitcom, and when it’s “on,” as on Thursday, it has Seinfeldian overtones: great banter, character-based humor and the sense that you’re watching one long hilarious skit when in fact it’s a carefully crafted little story with a solid beginning/middle/end.

The boys’ goal this time is to win the New Year’s Eve costume contest at the comic book store. Their secret weapon is brainless male bimbo Zack, who is back dating Penny again. Complications ensue when Penny reveals that she’d rather be spending New Year’s Eve with Leonard. But at the stroke of midnight, she kisses Zack instead, leaving Leonard alone and baffled.

This may be my favorite episode of the season -– full of fine writing and acting, over far too soon. Only Jim Parsons could get such a big laugh at the long knock on the door to Penny’s apartment. Preston Sturges or Billy Wilder would’ve been proud of that moment and maybe several others in this rippingly funny episode. It’s a Festivus of world-class one-liners.

 Way to go, Ye Gang of Bang. When you guys are on like this, this little show is a real gift.

 --Chris Erskine

Photo: The cast wins the New Year's costume party -- well, everyone but Leonard. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS

'Big Bang' recap: New stud in town

Bang129 
The wrong person in the right pair of jeans can be the downfall of almost anyone. This time, hyper-smart researcher Amy Farrah Fowler falls groin first for one of Penny's hunky old boyfriends, Zack, as played by Brian Thomas Smith. It's instant obsession, and suddenly Amy's boyfriend Sheldon becomes invisible. Not that he cares all that much.

This show loves to noodle around with the rules of attraction and how even the brightest, most rational people can fall prey to their baser instincts. The beautiful Penny, a waitress and aspiring actress,  is the only one of the bunch brave enough to test the payoffs of an emotional relationship -- and that affair (with Leonard) collapsed after one season.

So here we are again, Amy throwing herself at the mentally challenged eye candy that wanders into a bar one night. Penny makes the introductions; Amy salivates and the pursuit is on.

The laughs don't really start rolling in till the laundry room scene between Penny and Sheldon. Most of the best moments in the first half of the show come from the secondary story of Howard and Raj facing off over their potential superhero roles.  Who would be the superhero and who would be the sidekick? Obviously, both are sidekicks. But Howard's rubber-limbed wrestler might be the funniest bit of the show. Of all the characters, Simon Helberg's Howard seems the most likely to wind up with his own show one day.

In the end, Amy ends up back with Sheldon, her sorta soulmate. As usual, this often very smart show dodges any clever or satisfying exploration of jealousy or attraction. Like someone you'd meet in a bar, the characters (and writers) are just in it for the laughs. But sometimes even Comic-Com aficionados can have a real moment. And Jim Parsons' Sheldon is far overdue.

-- Chris Erskine

Photo: Zack (Brian Thomas Smith) catches the fancy of Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik), far right, in this Dec. 9 scene from "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS

 

 

'The Big Bang Theory' recap: Penny and Leonard together again

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And now back to our regular programming.

In this season's first seven episodes, "The Big Bang Theory" has tip-toed around Penny's and Leonard's breakup, referencing it but not getting much mileage out of the situation. Well, the gloves are off.

"Oh frick frack, not this again," Sheldon says.

Yes, this again -– and just in time for sweeps. This princess-and-the-frog relationship is now the juice that runs the show, and what made this week's episode one of the best of the season. I guess you can't blame executive producer Bill Prady for not wanting to rely on the Penny-Leonard thing too much -– or for having to mark time after Kaley Cuoco suffered a broken leg and had to be written out of the show for a while.

I'll bet that made for some long nights in the writers' room.  But Penny-versus-Leonard is this season's main event, and it's about time they rolled it out.

In this week's story line, Penny's father is visiting, and she wants to pretend that she and Leonard are still together, because the young scientist is the only boyfriend her father has ever liked. Why? "I want grandkids before I die, and I'd like to see them grow up in a house without wheels," says her father, played by Keith Carradine.

Of course, in pretending to be together, they ignite the old sparks.

Meanwhile, in one of the funniest moments of the year, Howard intercepts a kiss that Raj was trying to plant on Howard's girlfriend, Bernadette – a laugh-out-loud moment. Another funny and unexpected treat: Bernadette's dead-on impersonation of Howard's mother.

 All in all, a terrific episode that seems to point to better things to come.

 -- Chris Erskine

Photo: Howard (Simon Helberg, left), Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Raj (Kenal Nayyar) in "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: Sonja Fleming / CBS

'Big Bang Theory' recap: Ranking this season's shows

Bang1111done 
Once again, “The Big Bang Theory” plods along, finding its mojo at certain times but not putting together a satisfying episode overall. A lot of fans are wondering why the show is so uneven this season. Indeed, the show has been OK most weeks and inspired in only a few.

Thursday’s episode, “The 21-Second Excitation,” falls right in the middle. It’s not bad TV, and neither is it particularly good TV. It’s just average TV, and we already have plenty of that. If you need a strong whiff, just watch NBC for a couple of nights. Talk about a network that has lost touch with America.

But back to Bang. The most recent escapade finds the boys waiting in line to see a midnight showing of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”  It’s a decent premise, but the bigger laughs come out of the B story, which finds the girls — Penny, Amy and Bernadette — having a girls' night out. Give it up for Kaley Cuoco, whose straight-faced deliveries seem to get better every week. Best line of the week comes when Bernadette compliments her nails, to which Cuoco's character, Penny, says: “I found a place in a basement in Alhambra. I think it’s a front for human trafficking, but they do a really good job.”

The boys’ story is just OK, as noted above. There’s a good pop at the end, when they're shut out of the midnight showing when Sheldon's nemesis, Wil Wheaton, shows up and receives VIP seating. To get even, Sheldon steals the canisters of film. The sight of him running down the street with 100 nerds chasing him is a nice final scene. In between, just middling stuff, from a show that should be doing better.

Seems they are starting to build toward some sort of Penny-Leonard reprise, so maybe it’ll be a strong finish for what was once one of the top two or three sitcoms on the air.

 What’s your take? Here is my ranking of this season’s eps, from best to worst:

1. Friends undermine Howard's high-security project, Nov. 4

2. Sheldon dates Amy Farrah Fowler, Sept. 23

3. Leonard has a date; Sheldon meets Amy's mom, Oct. 21

4. Sheldon tries to extend his life, Sept. 30

5. Midnight movie goes awry, Nov. 11

6. Sheldon seeks alternative companionship. Oct. 7

7. Leonard sleeps with Raj’s sister, Oct. 28

8. Howard and his fantasy lovers, Oct. 14

Photo: The gang goes to the movies in the Nov. 11 episode. Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS.

'Big Bang Theory' recap: Funniest scene of the season

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This is the show I love, packed with hilarious, wry, character-based moments. It’s worth a half-hour of your life if only for the scene of Sheldon and the shot glass. This Nov. 4 episode proves why Jim Parsons earned that Emmy and that, when he dials it back just a bit, his is the funniest and most original character on television.

The simple but clever set-up for this week’s episode: Howard gets a chance to work on a new space laser project that requires security clearance. An FBI agent shows up to interview his friends individually to be sure Howard can be trusted. One by one, his buddies undermine poor Howard, but the worst of course is Sheldon, who slips and tells the beautiful agent (Eliza Dushku) that Howard is the person who crashed the Mars Rover. Oops. Friendship is such a delicate thing.

When Howard doesn't get the post, Sheldon is haunted by bad dreams. To clear his conscience, he schedules a meeting with the FBI agent to try to win reconsideration for Howard. Of course, he just makes it worse.

What follows, Parsons' drinking session with Penny as the bartender, is probably the winningest scene of the still-young season. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, including Parsons’ terrific line: “I can’t taste the cherries.” (it's a long set-up).

Kaley Cuoco’s Penny also sparkles in this scene, as the straight-faced, world-weary bartender. In trying to assure Sheldon that some things can’t be undone, she offers: “Lisa Peterson has not talked to me since the 11th grade, because no matter how hard you try, you can’t go back and un-dry hump someone’s boyfriend.”

It’s a raucous line, but not as crude as much of what we saw in earlier episodes this season. It also has the advantage of being a sensational line.

In the end, Sheldon makes it all up to Howard by offering him his prize possession in life: the seat at the end of the couch. It’s a sweet gesture and a reminder of how important the concept of friendship is to this show and any successful sitcom. Sitcoms tend to be either about friendship or family (sometimes work families, sometimes real families). "Bang" works best when it stays close to its endearing concept: That, in this fractured age, our friends become our brothers and sisters — and drive us just as bonkers.

— Chris Erskine

Photo: Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco in the best scene of the season. Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS.

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