Quick TV Review…
If you don’t watch “The Big Bang Theory,” give it a chance. CBS Mondays at 8:00 and online. Sure, the premise is ridiculous (two super-nerds move next door to the proverbial sitcom “hot babe” and hilarious antics ensue — See, they don’t know how to relate! She likes shopping, they like Star Trek! Haha.) Well then, the show gets decent ratings (in the 8 million viewers range, compared to the Office’s ~6 million), but it gets no respect. TV Squad doesn’t provide weekly recaps (though they do write-up each episode of Big Brother). The stereotypical fan of The Office is too cool for “three camera sitcoms,” and this one thrives on the “mismatched neighbors” and “nerd” constructs.
All that said, it’s actually really funny, and one of the “support” geeks (meaning there are two physicist roommates and two equally geeky friends providing plot “support”) is made fun of for being an engineer. I can’t remember the joke exactly, but it involved something about calling engineers “the oompa-loompas of science.” I haven’t felt that way in a while, but in academic circles, I’ll give them points for accuracy.
I have noticed that the show has actually moved away from the relationship the “babe” has with her neighbors. She has had little development – she basically sits there and makes simple jokes about her neighbors’ lack of social skills or just how far over head their discussion is. I guess at some point the sort-of “head” geek needs to act on his crush he first showed in the pilot (but the show has left it sort of unaddressed since then), but I think that’s the lazy way out for the writers. Family Matters did it years ago. I would guess that the writers felt like they needed a girl to be their “normal” foil for the four scientists, but as the show has gone on, they’ve realized the “geeks” personalities and competitiveness have been able to carry the show.
Now, the show takes an odd line between “same as every other sitcom” and “something new.” If they ever fall back on “dorky nice guy chases after girl completely out of his league,” we’ll know that the writers have given up. The writers have stumbled onto four entertaining, dynamic characters who are unlike their TV geek forebears; they’re the center of the show, not just one-note jokes on the periphery of a normal sitcom cast.
CBS has a good thing going. Unlike The Office, there’s more potential upside for this show. The Office won’t get significantly higher ratings – there’s simply a finite number of people into sarcastic, dry humor (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I’ve elaborated on The Office previously, and everything that was true then is still true now, the viewership numbers aren’t improved, but they are more vocal (oddly enough, crossing into standard “geek” territory like having a convention). The Big Bang Theory is more straight-forward and, yes, “easier,” but those aren’t bad things. Tune In.