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The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season (2010-2011)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/13/2011

All Ratings out of
Show: 1/2
Video: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/15/2011

For years, television shows were looked down upon, and film was seen as the superior and more respectable medium. TV got harsh nicknames like "the idiot box" or "the boob tube", as many felt that watching TV made one less intelligent. Even today, there are those who rarely watch or even don't a TV, as they feel that it is beneath them. This quite sad as television today is turning out some of its best product ever. One only need look at the number of movie actors (and movie stars in some cases) who have made the transition to TV to get an idea of where the medium is today. This mark of quality goes for both dramas and comedies and one of best current comedies is The Big Bang Theory, which has just released its fourth season on Blu-ray Disc.

Season Four of The Big Bang Theory picks up a short time after the ending of Season Three, which saw some changes for the characters. After years of flirting, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) became a couple in Season Three, but their relationship hit a snag when they realized that they weren't very compatible and they broke up. Meanwhile, as a joke, Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) placed Sheldon's (Jim Parsons) personal information on a dating website, and it actually found a match -- Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik).

As Season Four opens, the dynamic between the group members is mostly the same, but there are some subtle differences. Despite the breakup with Leonard, Penny has remained a part of the group, although there is some tension there. Sheldon has begun to converse via computer with Amy, and she eventually starts to hang out with him, but they never seem themselves as a couple. The terminally horny and lonely Howard begins to date one of Penny's co-workers, Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). Raj's sister, Priya (Aarti Mann), comes to visit and sparks fly between she and Leonard. As the season draws to a close, some of these relationships become serious.

As noted above, many televisions shows (save for reality TV) are headed in the right direction and offering something worth watching. One of the main reasons for this is that the shows have learned how to evolve. In the past, a show would find a winning formula and stick to it until it ran it into the ground. Shows like The Big Bang Theory have learned how to change and grow in order to survive. This is evident in Season Four with the emphasis being placed on relationships. When the show debuted, one of the driving forces was that Leonard, Howard, and Raj were nerdy scientists who couldn't get dates. (Sheldon doesn't care about dating or mating, so he doesn't count.) The fact that the guys struck out with the ladies was a constant source of humor, especially for Howard, the guy who saw himself as suave. And, let's not forget Raj's social anxiety disorder. The notion changed when Leonard and Penny finally became a couple. What a breakthrough! One of the guys could get a girl. This opened the floodgates for the stories introduced in Season Four. Even Sheldon gets a girl, although he sees her as an intellectual companion. Yes, this could all be seen as a "giving in" tactic, but it still shows that The Big Bang Theory is willing to shake things up to keep them fresh.

The other area in which the show continues to evolve is through Sheldon. I'm not exactly sure how the process works, but the powers that be at The Big Bang Theory learned that Sheldon was the most popular character and they feature him prominently. Due to his arrogance and what is clearly aspergers syndrome, Sheldon can be very abrasive towards others, as he doesn't always comprehend social norms. There have been times when Sheldon's behavior has come across as cruel. However, Sheldon has also been learning about how people act towards one another, and his attempts to "fit in" provide good material. Also, the writers have turned what was once mean-spirited stuff into silliness, as Sheldon's shenanigans have gotten more and more absurd, but in a good way. (For a perfect example, look no further than "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification".)

As a show which focuses on a group of "nerds", The Big Bang Theory could have easily run out of material very quickly, once it drained all of the stereotypical material. And while the show certainly ran with the nerd stuff, it also looked past it by exploring the characters and their relationships. By daring to take the obvious (Leonard and Penny) and twist it, The Big Bang Theory remains fresh, providing consistent laughs and never feeling stale.

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season makes us constantly wonder if that is Melissa Rauch's real voice on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The two-disc set contains all 24 episodes of the show's fourth season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 19 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of sharpness is good, but the picture is a tad soft at times. Overall, this more than rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.1 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are fairly good, most notably when sounds are coming from the left or right of the screen. For the most part, the audio stays in the front and center channels, but when the atom graphic appears which symbolizes a shift in story, we get some nice surround effects which are accompanied with a bass rumble.

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. Disc 1 offers three entries entitled "The Big Bang's Theory of Relativity: Actor on Actor" in which the cast members chat. The first has Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, and Kunal Nayyar (8 minutes). The second has Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik (8 minutes). The third has Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki (6 minutes). The actors interview one another, discussing the storylines and character arcs of Season 4. The questions are actually interesting and this offers more insight than a standard "making of". We also get a 10-minute GAG REEL. Disc 2 kicks off with "The Big Bang Theory Live" (16 minutes) takes us to the studio to see what it's like to see the show being filmed in front of a live audience. This is a fairly detailed piece, as we see the crowd lined-up to get into the studio, the audience receiving instructions, and the performance of the episode. "Barenaked Ladies on The Big Bang Theory" (3 minutes) has the band who performs the theme song discussing the song and allowing us to see the making of the music video. This is followed by the MUSIC VIDEO for the song (2 minutes).

Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long