September 13, 2008

DVD Review: The Big Bang Theory - The Complete First Season

Mmmm hmmmm mm hm mnmnmnm uuuhmm nnmmm hhmmm. Blech. That's better. Let me begin by saying that I will happily put my foot in my mouth with regards to The Big Bang Theory. If you'll recall, I did not think very much of the show when it was first announced (evidenced in this post). It struck me as dumb, simple comedy that would not go anywhere, much less be anything of quality. After watching the premiere when it was originally aired, my opinion was pretty much the same as it was when I saw the pre-release clips. However, for some reason I kept going back from time to time. Over the course of the first season I found myself inexplicably drawn to the tale of the nerds.

All right, let's back up a bit. As we all know, the Big Bang is the theory that the dawn of the universe was at a finite time in the past when a dense mass of matter exploded, thus creating said universe. Since that time all matter in the universe is expanding, always moving away from everything else, just like an explosion. Sure, much of this can be ordered within galaxies and solar systems, but little by little we are getting farther away from everything else around us.

Now, what does that have to do with The Big Bang Theory? I guess you could look at the arrival of the pretty neighbor as the fuel sparking the nerd explosion, during which the primary duo and extended quartet of geeks begin to see new aspects of the world brought into their lives. I don't know, but that sort of makes sense with what is going on in the show.

The further into the season we got, the better the writing became and the better the characters became. I began to see more clearly what they were doing, and I came to enjoy it more. Rewatching the episodes now, I have a greater appreciation for the series. Sometimes I think shows benefit from watching a cluster of episodes back to back, 30 Rock is another show that falls under this concept. I will doubt I will ever go so far as to say this is a great show, or ever will be a great show, but it is quite enjoyable and a cut above what I was initially expecting. That said, I will say I enjoy this show much more than Two and a Half Men.

At the center of the series are Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons), roommates and physicists who gravitate towards all things geek. They are not representative of all geeks, but I think they do a decent job of capturing the essence. Their lives are flipped upside down when Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in across the hall. She is the "dumb" side of the equation, which is not completely accurate and played up too much early on. Fortunately, they learned more about writing her character, making her much better in the long run.

Leonard is immediately taken with her, and proceeds to explore ways of asking her out. As that plays out as the undercurrent thrusting the show we get to see all manner of geeky situations with Leonard as the geek with an understanding of how to function in the real world, while Sheldon is completely socially inept. This doesn't even mention the other two geeks, Howard and Rajnesh.

How can I tie all of this together? Let me just say that the show won me over. This show has an addictive quality that is hard to ignore, and if you like the geeky things in life, this could be the sitcom you've been looking for.

Audio/Video. The tech side of the disks is good. It looks better than it did during the initial broadcast. The video is presented in 1,78:1 widescreen and is nice and sharp, while the Dolby Surround audio sounds fine.

Extras. The lone extra is a featurette called Quantum Mechanics of The Big Bang Theory (a behind-the-scenes look into geek chic). That is definitely a mouthful and it is a watch once sort of fluffy featurette. It includes interviews with creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, as well as star Johnny Galecki. On another note, I like the packaging, it is a standard Amaray case with a hinged insert containing the three disks.

Bottomline. This is a better show than I ever wanted to give it credit for. It may never reach the heights of Seinfeld or Scrubs, but it is a darn good B-level sitcom that is well worth spending time with. I suspect that I will revisit this on a semi-regular basis. It is funny and in the end that is what matters most.

Recommended.

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