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The Big Bang Theory: The Complete
First Season (2007-2008)
Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 9/2/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/2/2008; Updated 7/12/2012
What happened to sitcoms? When they suddenly begin to die off? For decades, dating back to the dawn of television, situation comedies were the cornerstone of TV. Just name some of the great shows of each decade, and most will probably be sitcoms. So, what happened? Why is it that when we channel-surf today, we mostly see one-hour dramas or reality shows in prime-time? Had the medium simply died? Was there a lack of quality material? I'm not sure, but in this day and time, it's now more than simply a pleasure to discover a good sitcom and The Big Bang Theory more than fits the bill.
The Big Bang Theory focuses on the lives of Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons). The two young men are roommates, they are both physicist at Cal-Tech, and they are both geniuses. When they aren't working on experiments, they enjoy playing video games or debating over science-fiction movies or comic books with their friends Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Rajnesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). The guys exist inside their own social circle and they don't see anything wrong with it. Then, one day, an attractive young woman named Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in across the hall and things change. Leonard is immediately smitten by Penny and the obnoxious Howard constantly puts moves on her. Instead of looking down on Leonard and Sheldon and judging them as nerds, Penny is very nice to them and suddenly her world is invading theirs. How will two geniuses who lack in social skills handle this predicament?
At first glance, The Big Bang Theory looks very formulaic and doesn't appear to have much going for it. And, truth be told, it is formulaic because, on the surface, everyone here is a stereotype. Leonard and Sheldon are nerds who don't know how to act around girls, and Penny is a hot-blonde who has men fawning over her.
However, the show quickly reveals itself to be something different. There have been plenty of smart people on TV, but few like Leonard and Sheldon. They are both geniuses and they speak in a very scientific language. The show isn't afraid to let these characters throw out terms and names which are going to mean nothing to the average viewer. We soon learn that due to their advanced IQs and the ways in which they see the world, science is often the only way in which they can relate to everyday situations. Most any conversation is peppered with scientific jargon, or barring that, a reference to a movie or comic-book character.
Speaking of characters, they are what drives the show. Leonard is good-hearted and shy, and it's clear that he wants to do a good person and do the right thing. Of the group, he is the best around strangers. Howard, who wears a dickie with everything, lives with his mother and takes everything one step too far. Raj has a crippling social anxiety and he can't speak around attractive women. As noted above, Penny is more than meets the eye as well. She's new in Los Angeles and she doesn't judge. Thus, she's able to become fast friends with Leonard and Sheldon...well, Leonard at least. Even though she doesn't always understand what the guys are saying, she's not afraid to jump in. One of the best parts of The Big Bang Theory is that Penny isn't portrayed as a bubbleheaded blonde. She merely has an average intelligence, and, like the rest of us, easily gets lost when Sheldon starts talking.
As the show progresses, all of the characters become more and more appealing, but none take off like Sheldon, who simply steals the show. For a sitcom, Sheldon is a complex character. He was raised in Texas and graduated college while still a teenager. He has had very little socialization and, while he's a scientific genius, he knows little about how to interact with others. He views every conversation as a science problem and views the world with steely logic. He also very anal and obsessive-compulsive. This character could have easily come off as a jerk, but Jim Parsons has created a character who is so alien, that he's hilarious. Sheldon has the best lines of every episode and his bizarre, yet rational reactions to situation are so different from anything else that we've seen, that we can't help but laugh. He's like the love-child of Felix Unger and Frasier Crane (and any comparisons to Tony Randall or Kelsey Grammer would be very apt). Sheldon may view everyone around him as inferior, but his jokes are superior.
Again, The Big Bang Theory may seem trite at first, but give it a chance and you'll probably find something to love. (If you're like me, you probably met someone like Leonard or Sheldon in college.) It's interesting to note how the show changes over the course of its first season. In the beginning, it appears that the focus is going to be solely on Leonard's infatuation with Penny, but as the season progresses, that storyline is actually pushed to the back and the way in which Leonard attempts to guide Sheldon through the real world comes to the fore-front. And this is a good thing, as nerds rule on this show, and you'll find yourself quoting Sheldon. The only thing that I don't like about this show is the laugh track. Do we still need those today?
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First Season explodes onto DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. This three-disc DVD set contains all 17 episodes of the show's first season. The shows are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly bright. There is no artifacting here and the picture is never soft. The image rivals digital broadcast quality. The DVD offers a Dolby surround stereo audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The bulk of the audio emerges from the center channel, but we do get some nice stereo effects when a character is off-screen and, unfortunately, the laugh track fills the speakers.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First Season DVD set contains only one extra. "Quantum Mechanics of The Big Bang Theory" (17 minutes) features an interview with series creator Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre who discuss the ideas behind the show and the characters. We then get comments from the cast who discuss their characters and their approach to the show. Some of the comments here verify the theory that the show changed over the course of the season. I wish that they would have included the unaired pilot, which sounds as if it had a different tone.
On July 10, 2012, Warner Home Video brought The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First Season to Blu-ray Disc. The 17 episodes are spread out over two Discs. The shows have 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 or defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image has a distinct crispness to it and the level of detail is good for a sitcom. The video transfer certainly rivals HD broadcast quality. The Disc carries 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. This is one of those shows where you wonder why they bother with a 5.1 track. The all-important dialogue also sounds great. There are some occasional stereo effects which highlight noises coming from off-screen. The studio audience laughter also comes from the front channels. However, I didn't detect any surround effects. The familiar swirling atom graphic does provide some bass effects.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Disc offers only one extra which wasn't available on the DVD release. We get a 8-minute GAG REEL which features flubbed lines and on-set accidents.
Review Copyright 2008/2012 by Mike Long