Ba-Zinga! A Look At The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory opening

Okay so this is a little different from what I normally do however I’m thinking that offering opinions and observations on life comes pretty natural there is no reason why I can’t shift that focus to something in popular culture.  So I’m making a new category for my posts strictly for “Reviews.”

The original idea that came to mind would be the CBS comedy, “The Big Bang Theory” on CBS.  This is a complete change from posts in the past but here is my reasoning.

My sister came home for Christmas and was quoting the show, let alone I’ve heard from numerous people how ground breaking of a show it is.  The amount of people that would vouch for this show is startling considering the type of humor found the show.

Sheldon The Germophobe

Premise – Here is the Coles notes version of what BBT is about.  It follows the lives of two room mates, Leonard and Sheldon.  They are two very gifted Physicists both have obtained a PhD.  There are two friends that they work with Howard and Raj, Raj has a PhD in Astrophysics, and Howard has a masters in Engineering.  So to sum it up.  It is the exploits and lives for four uber-nerds.  Each of them have their own little quirks. Howard tries endlessly to get women, with usually no success.  Raj in contrast cannot speak if there is a cute woman in the scene unless he has some alcohol in him (which does lead to some funny moments).  Sheldon is the central reason as to why I feel the show has been a success by playing his anti-protagonist role, he is smarter than all the others but lacks all ability and desire to interact with human beings on any other level other than intellectually.  Then Leonard who I would say is the main character, still a nerd and a genius, but the most normal of the bunch.

I will admit that I am not a big fan of this show at all, but there are some positives that cry out to be mentioned.  First of which is the story telling is actually pretty well done.  Not so much for each episode because sometimes the concepts are pretty ridiculous, however I have noticed that they have a number of jokes that are re-occurring and they do become integrated into the story pretty naturally.

One of Raj’s Best Scenes
-Raj not being able to speak to women is done very well, with the odd occasion where he’ll be in the middle of a sentence and a girl will enter the scene prompting him to stop and panic.  There was even one scene where he needed to talk to the guys so the main female character “Penny”  agreed to leave the apartment.  While he was talking about his problem to the guys, Penny on the other side of the door yelled out her opinion… prompting Raj to quiet up.  He whispered into Howard’s ear and Howard responded with, “I don’t know if you can talk or not.”    I’ll admit it prompted a laugh.

-The continual mockery of Howard because he “only has a masters” and he is NOT a doctor.  Sheldon makes a lot of references to Howard being the intellectual runt of the conversation essentially pissing on the credentials of a masters in comparison to the PhD’s that the other three characters have.  He also mocks Leonard’s work, pretty much treating it as if it is basic and unimportant.  This is brought up throughout the series.

The opening to one of the better episodes
-Sheldon’s Spot.  There is a place on the couch that Sheldon has to sit on all the time.  No one is allowed to sit there… he analyzed it and realized that the spot is far enough away from the window to not be directly in front of a draft, yet far enough away from the heater to not be overheated, and it also allows him to see the tv without turning his head, yet still able to see everyone.  This is explained many times when someone else sits in it… and brings about a relatively funny episode where Penny accidentally shoots the cushion with a paint ball gun.

There’s a lot of underlying tones in this show that really are well done.  It isn’t a terrible show by any means, however does it deserve the accolades that it is receiving from my peers?  I would not agree to it.

There’s a key thing that I just can’t get past when it comes to this show.  The first is something that was pointed out to me by Gerard Noseworthy in his rant about how over rated that show is… they really go to hell with the laugh track.  After every line you can hear a fake audience laugh and if you pay attention to it.  It really gets annoying, and brings me to the main issue I have with this show.

Big Bang Theory is the Emperor’s New Clothes of the sitcom world.  People want to make it seem like they get the humor because they use such complex physics terminology that if you laugh it must mean you’re smart.  Essentially my biggest issue with this show is that it is a broadcast that needs to tell its viewers when to laugh because otherwise they would have no idea.  Listen to some of Sheldon’s lines and remove the laugh track, a lot will just sound awkward and strange.  I’ll admit that they do their best to make it understandable but even I do get lost occasionally on what he is talking about.  There is universal humor, for example Sheldon’s hatred of actor Will Wheaton, and the conflict that you see in the three episodes that he was in.  Also when you see someone sit in Sheldon’s spot, you know he’s going to flip out.  There is also all the jokes that are made about how the guys can’t get women, or their disbelief (and mockery) of any one of the four that actually DOES hook up with one.

So it isn’t a show that is lost on the non-intellectuals of the world, however like I said I find it hard to get behind a show that needs to inform us when we should laugh because sometimes we just wouldn’t know otherwise.

All in all after watching the show I think I will probably keep watching it whenever I think about it, but it isn’t going to be something that I’m going to follow in the religious fashion that a lot of my peer group does.  It’s an okay show at best, but all in all it is pretty forgettable.  Some of the stories seem rushed, the relationships and character development seems sloppy, and the humor sometimes is strange, but it is an enjoyable half hour if you catch it on TV.

I’d say 6 / 10.

An episode where Leonard and Sheldon are competing over who is smarter, this is the end of the episode where Penny tries to settle it once and for all using pop culture questions.  Funny, if you know the answers to her questions and know who William Shatner and Patrick Stewart are.


Alright so essentially I’m adding this Review section to the blog just to give some diversity to the posts.  It may take some time between Review posts because when it comes to TV shows, I am going to actually watch the entire series before drawing my conclusions.  This one was pretty dry, but I’m pretty sure I’ll have better material to work with when I finish the next one…. Glee.

5 thoughts on “Ba-Zinga! A Look At The Big Bang Theory

  1. They don’t have a laugh track; they tape it in front of a live audience, and if the audience doesn’t laugh they write a new joke – hence, laughter after most lines, because most lines have been tested for audience effectiveness.

    1. While I was watching the series a lot of the actual laughter sounds identical, same pitch, same duration, usually there are differences that can be picked up on if you listen closely if it is filmed in from of a live audience. Generally I’m pretty good at spotting canned laughter vs audience laughter so I apologize if this is a case in which I was mistaken and got it wrong. I still stand by the original critique of the show however, it remains being an okay way to fill in a half hour gap you might have in your night, but I still do not believe the hype to be warranted.

      Thanks for the feedback though. I do appreciate it.

      1. What happens is that shows edit and remix the real audience laughter to cover edits or save time – this is particularly true with today’s shows because they have so little running time, and can’t allow the audience to laugh for very long. So the cutting and sound mixing makes the laughter sound the same, even though it’s real.

        Also, this show, like most, shoots some scenes before the taping and shows them to the audience, and the laughter in those scenes sounds more “distant” because it’s in a different acoustic from the scene. It’s the same on talk shows – listen to the audience laughter in the outdoor remote sequences and you’ll hear that same “canned” sound even though it’s real.

      2. I will be the first to admit that I do not have a great deal of insight into the behind the scenes of television production, although even after listening to a couple of episodes after you comment it is still a bit questionable to my ears that the laughter is not canned. However, your explanation is sound and chances are this doubtfulness is simply due to my own ignorance. I do know that I am mistaken about laugh track, and as before I want to apologize for that error.

        I also want to thank you again for your comment and more important the informative way in which you explained what is actually happening in the show. The process sounds pretty interesting. This blog started out as something just for fun but as people started to actually read it I realized that it is something I can use to refine my writing before I finish this course and actually enter the journalism world. So any constructive criticism is an asset. Whether it is correcting spelling or grammar issues, or point out when I make obvious mistakes I appreciate any feedback I do receive. So Mr. Weinman, once again I would like to thank you.

        When I finish watching Glee and write the review that I am planning, I will definitely be a lot more considerate of what I am writing and make sure opinion is portrayed as opinion and the facts are accurate.

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