Category: The Big Bang Theory

'Big Bang Theory' recap: 2 geeks passing in the night


What makes a great comedy? A former show runner, now a feature screenwriter, insisted to me the other night that neither “Glee” nor “The Big Bang Theory” were  great shows, in the same way “Cheers” and “MASH” were great shows. Of the current crop of comedies, only “Modern Family” is capable of rising to that level, he said.

OK, so maybe Bang doesn’t change the television landscape, like those others. But Thursday’s third episode of the year proved that it is a solid, smart and funny show. After two weeks of pouring concrete, Big Bang let loose with the best episode of the season.

Amy Farrah Fowler returned as Sheldon’s girlfriend, a solid though unspectacular turn by Mayim Bialik, as a neuro-biologist who is Sheldon’s equal when it comes to arcane references and misfit angst. In fact, she is so insufferable, Sheldon’s buddies take to hanging out in Penny’s apartment to avoid them.

            Leonard: “Amy is judgmental, sanctimonious and, frankly, just plain obnoxious.”

            Sheldon: “So?”

            Leonard: “That’s what we have you for.”

Nice to see Johnny Galecki get more carries this week. His Leonard character was in danger of being swept under the curtains. Galecki is the anchor in a show that threatens to go over-the-top nerdy at any moment. As Jim Parsons’ Sheldon is best in ensemble scenes, Galecki does best in one-on-one moments, as with Sheldon’s mom at the end.

This was a witty, well-crafted episode, with hardly a dead spot. Oddly, this fourth season has involved more off-color humor than ever before. In one episode, there was the masturbating mechanical hand. Last week, there were fart jokes. This can be the most sly  show on TV. Thursday, there was a running gag about toilets. Such stuff doesn’t quite undermine the show’s tone. It just seems sophomoric and unnecessary on a sitcom that is smarter and better than most.

Take, for example, the great tag, when Sheldon unloads the 25 cats he’s accumulated while recovering from a short breakup with Amy. “Cats $20.” the sign says. And with each cat Sheldon hands to a customer, he also hands the customer 20 bucks.

            Score. Bang is back.

--Chris Erskine

Photo: Penny and Sheldon air their dirty laundry in the Oct. 7 episode; Credit Warners Bros. Television.

'Big Bang Theory' recap: As Sheldon replicates himself, where's Johnny?


Jim Parsons' Sheldon may be the world's first techno-sexual. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, he's probably not alone. Though, for the purposes of the fourth season of "The Big Bang Theory," he needs to be.

Sheldon is Bang's bumbling Gilligan, one of the finest and distinct TV characters to come along in the last decade. He doesn't just represent dysfunctional geeks; he represents a generation that is sometimes more obsessed with gadgets than with each other.

On Thursday's second episode of the season, Sheldon is obsessed with living long enough to see many of his scientific predictions and milestones come true. To cut the chances of an accidental death, he replicates himself as a robot -- a Shelbot -- that he operates from the safety of his bed.

There's not much story here. Most of the humor hinges on the prop robot, a funny set-up involving a flat-screen TV and a T-shirt. There is also a too-short bit on Sheldon working out with Penny in his quest to stay healthy.

Once again, Johnny Galecki's character Leonard gets short shrift. Where's Johnny? Nowhere, for the second straight episode. If this keeps up, he's going to wind up with fewer lines than the painfully girl-shy Raj.

Speaking of plot twists, even though there weren't any, how about Kaley Cuoco's recent confession that she and Galecki had a secret off-screen relationship for two years? That's not exactly a revelation on a par with the Pentagon Papers, or anything Bill Clinton ever pulled, but it's sure to flavor any scenes between the two this season. Cuoco says the two split last winter, partly from the strain of trying to keep their relationship from the public. To that, all you can ask is "why?" Wouldn't the extra pub have only helped the show?

In any case, Parsons' often over-the-top character needs Leonard there for balance. Till then, Cuoco's deadpan deliveries are carrying the show. Once the weakest link in the cast, she gets better with every season.

Network note: Hey, CBS, can you lay off the promos long enough for the show to get rolling? Three minutes of promos after the cold opening has got to be an audience killer.

Network note II: Parsons can bend a punchline as well as anyone in TV, but some of his lines were so much of a mouthful you thought he might pass out. Give the guy a break. Or at least a chance to breathe.

--Chris Erskine

Photo: Jim Parsons' Sheldon prepares to work out with Kaley Cuoco's Penny in one of the best scenes of the night. Her: "Can you do this?" Him: "We'll never know." Credit: Warner Bros. Television


'Big Bang Theory' recap: The show starts off with a ... well ... guess

Oct. 7 episode 

Season premieres are like pilots. They rarely show a sit-com at its best. They’re often overthought and unspontaneous. The show hasn’t really found its rhythm. If I were a show runner, and you can thank the TV lords that I’m not, I’d keep the staff for an extra two weeks at the end of a season and make them write the first episode of the following one.

This makes Thursday’s premiere of “The Big Bang Theory” all the more impressive. Now in its fourth season, the show is hitting its stride. I’ve liked this sit-com since its first season. It’s great to see it find its following.

CBS is betting the ranch that "Bang" can carry Thursday’s comedy lineup, and early indications are that it can. This show has always been about character first and we get more of that as Penny drives Sheldon on his first date ever, with Amy Farrah Fowler. This A story is strong, but I would’ve had Sheldon and Amy double-dating with Penny and Leonard, who broke up at the end of last season. It’s probably too soon for any sort of reconciliation, but the Penny-Leonard relationship is now the running theme, so let’s get at it.

Simon Helberg’s Howard Wolowitz has a funny, but sort of predictable, secondary story regarding a robotic arm he’s created. Guess what he ends up doing with it? Still, funny stuff and character-based comedy continue to be this show’s strong suits. Writing and casting are everything in TV comedy, and this show has that in spades.

By the way, does it seem to you that Sheldon is much funnier in bigger ensemble scenes, when all the other characters can take shots at him? When he’s one-on-one with a friend, he gets cartoonish. In any case, be prepared for more on his search for a mate early this season.

Leonard was almost invisible in the premiere. Almost more than Penny, he grounds the show and you’d hope he plays a bigger role soon.

All in all, a strong start.

Best line?  Sheldon to Penny: “You have broad hips and a certain corn-fed vigor. Is your womb available for rent?”

Best gag: Howard and the robotic hand (of course).

Best moment: Penny’s spit-take when Sheldon announces he wants to have children with his new girlfriend.

-- Chris Erskine

Photo: Sheldon's love life looks to be a constant source of material this season. Played by Jim Parsons, center, the character looks for alternative companionship in the Oct. 7 episode. Credit: CBS

TCA Press Tour: Love is in the air on 'The Big Bang Theory'

 It's CBS's turn at the summer Television Critics Assn. press tour at the Beverly Hilton and first up was the critical darling comedy, "The Big Bang Theory."

The subdued session focused mostly on love. Will Sheldon find love? Will Leonard and Penny ever get back together? What do Wolowitz and Koothrappali see in each other?

There weren't many answers. The twice Emmy-nominated Jim Parsons said he was surprised that Sheldon was able to communicate with a woman last season, and so were we.

"He'll have a very unique relationship," offered executive producer Chuck Lorre.

Leonard and Penny are done. For now, anyway.

But Wolowitz and Koothrappali? Their love is just blossoming.

"We love each other," said Simon Helberg, who plays Wolowitz.

"Non-sexually, mostly," added Kunal Nayyar, who plays Koothrappali.

"Every relationship, you realize you're on a park bench talking about life, and you think, 'I'm kind of on a date with my friend right now,' " Helberg continued.

"We're much more comfortable with each other than the real world, and when that element is taken, there's separation anxiety," Nayyar said.

There are some anxious moments ahead. Lorre said Wolowitz's girlfriend will definitely be back.

Poor Koothrappali. Love is never easy.

-- Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: From left, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco, Brian Thomas Smith, Johnny Galecki on "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: Sonja Flemming / CBS


Follow our coverage of the TCA Press Tour

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Comic-Con 2010: Simon Helberg is 'like Elvis'

"The Big Bang Theory's" Simon Helberg pulled himself away from his adoring fans and the ravenous media to have a quick chat during Comic-Con. He may be "arrogant" now because his success, but the show is still overwhelming.

-- Jevon Phillips

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COMIC-CON 2010: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will guest star on 'Big Bang Theory'

"The Big Bang Theory" -- the unofficial Comic-Con sitcom due to its relentless spoofing of all things geeky -- is about to get prime exposure as CBS' 8 p.m. lead-off show on Thursday nights this fall. But it apparently won't drop its connection to the nerd universe: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has been tapped for a Season 4 guest spot, it was announced at a Comic-Con panel Friday. 

Unlike Steve Jobs, Wozniak, Apple's "Other Steve," has become a regular on the entertainment circuit. He was a contestant on Season 8 of "Dancing With the Stars" and frequently showed up on "My Life on the D-List" (at the time, he was dating star Kathy Griffin).

For stunt casting, "The Big Bang Theory" often turns to celebrities beloved by the geek community, with people such as Wil Wheaton (the fanboy actor and blogger) and Nobel laureate George Smoot appearing in walk-ons or semi-regular parts. 

The Comic-Con panel also revealed that former "Blossom" star Mayim Bialik will return in Season 4 as the love interest of Sheldon (Jim Parsons).

One questioner from the crowd at Comic-Con -- warmed up with a live performance of the theme song from Barenaked Ladies -- suggested that the show is such a natural for the convention, the producers should film an episode there. Cheers erupted throughout Ballroom 20 at the San Diego Convention Center.

But co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady shot down the idea. "We're an indoor cat," Lorre said.

-- Scott Collins (follow me on Twitter @scottcollinsLAT)

Jim Parsons says his dogs approve of his Emmy nomination for 'The Big Bang Theory'

99115_D0340b When Jim Parsons learned he had been nominated for a second time for his brilliant comedic work on "The Big Bang Theory," he was standing in the kitchen with his dogs, Otis and Rufus.

They "wanted to pee and poop. It was just an ordinary day," he said. "They were thrilled with the news, by the way. They said I could still bring home the kibble." 

Parsons said his celebration plans were just as plain.

"Well, I just got off the treadmill," he said. "I was running. That is my version of pinching myself. I did no incline today. I'm a little off kilter for that right now."

If his character, Sheldon, were to win the Emmy, Parsons said, he probably "would at least put on that there was no other logical way to go about it," Parsons said. "I'm afraid he would drone on for a very long time about things people wouldn't understand or care about. That would not happen with me because 1) I wouldn't win and 2) I'd be too nervous to talk."

-- Yvonne Villarreal and Maria Elena Fernandez

Photo: Jim Parsons with Mayim Bialik on "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: Sonja Flemming/CBS.


Emmy voters did right by dramas and comedies but need a reality check

List of Emmy nominations

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'Big Bang's' success: It's not rocket science

The cast and creative forces behind CBS' breakout comedy know the geek squad won't get the girl, but it gets the laughs.



It makes absolute sense that the folks at the Apple store Genius Bar would freak out at the sight of the cast of “The Big Bang Theory.” Or that thousands of fans would fill a room to spend time with them at Comic-Con last summer. But when the paparazzi of Mexico City went so berserk over the five actors during a promotional visit in December that they required an armed bodyguard, the young cast knew their little sitcom was turning into a sensation.

Statistically, "Big Bang" is defying all kinds of odds, most notably in that it's thriving at a time when the multi-camera format has been declared dead and network television as a whole is struggling. In its sophomore season, the buddy comedy has registered 20% more viewers, reaching the 10 million mark, and building enough confidence at CBS that it's been renewed for two more years.

At its core, "Big Bang" is a show about brainy best friends, genius nerds and social misfits who for the first time on TV are the source of the joke, not the butt of it. But on a deeper level, it's also about love, loyalty, friendship and the frailties of the human spirit mixed in with quantum physics and superhero fanboydom. Think "Weird Science" meets "Friends."

Read the entire article: 'Big Bang's' success: It's not rocket science

-- Marie Elena Fernandez

Photo: Greg Gayne / Warner Bros.


- David Strick's Hollywood Backlot: 'The Big Bang Theory'


'The Big Bang Theory': What's Sheldon's deal?

SummerIf you were a brilliant nerd, what would get you hottest under the collar?

A chance encounter on a fast-moving train with Summer Glau, that object of lust for fanboys across fandom? Or a stimulating conversation with Dr. George Smoot, the astrophysicist who is merely responsible for our understanding of the universe?

Our favorite CBS nerds are about to find out. In an upcoming episode of "The Big Bang Theory," Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayar) take a train trip to San Francisco to attend a symposium in which Dr. Smoot is the keynote speaker. Yes, the real Nobel Prize-winning Dr. Smoot, the one who also nabbed the Albert Einstein Medal and helped establish the big-bang theory of the universe. (How's that for stunt casting?)

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