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

September 23, 2010 |  8:31 pm

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