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The Big Bang Theory: The Complete
Second Season (2008-2009)
Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 9/15/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/10/2009; Updated 7/12/2012
I'm typically not a fan of modern sitcoms. Unlike some of the classic shows such as Cheers and Night Court, today's shows rarely show any intelligence or creativity. We get the same situation over-and-over (hence the sitcom part), and there is usually an inordinate amount of sex jokes. We would like to think that these shows aim at the middle, but most of them simply go for the lowest common denominator. Thus, it's either a stroke of genius or an insane plan to make a sitcom which is about geniuses which is aimed at a slightly more enlightened audience. But, not only did the show make it on the air, it became a hit. And there we have The Big Bang Theory.
The Big Bang Theory focuses on a group of scientists. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) are physicists who are also roommates. Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is an astronomer and Howard (Simon Helberg) is an engineer. All four are into comic books, science-fiction movies, and video games. They often argue about science and none of them has much experience with women. For lack of a better word, they're nerds. An attractive young woman named Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in next to Sheldon and Leonard, and slowly becomes a part of their group. Leonard is attracted to Penny, and as Season 1 comes to a close, Leonard and Penny go on a date. The opening of Season 2 shows the conclusion of that date, where we learn that Penny is intimidated by Leonard's intellect and isn't sure if they should be together. This is just one of the plotlines of Season 2. Leonard does eventually get a new girlfriend, Sheldon attempts to learn to drive, Raj becomes a celebrity, and Howard continues to strike out with women, be they everyday girls or celebrities. Throughout all of this, Leonard never quite gets over Penny.
I've always wondered how TV shows know what the audience likes. Is it though focus groups? Is it reader mail? Do they simply guess? Whatever the case, the makers of The Big Bang Theory are clearly in-tune with their viewers and they know who the star of this show is: Sheldon. While there was certainly plenty of Dr. Sheldon Cooper in Season 1, he is even more prominent the second season. Most of the plotlines don't revolve around him, but it's clear that the writers know that the audience wants as much Sheldon as possibly, so he's always weaving in and out of scenes, dropping his great dialogue. While there have certainly been nerdy and fastidious characters on TV in the past, Sheldon is a unique character. Or rather, he's an amalgam of a lot of other great characters. He's like Mr. Spock, Felix Unger, and any number of famous robots put together in one package. He worships science, operates solely on logic, and doesn't understand emotions or human interactions. It's these latter shortcomings which make Sheldon so funny, as he's a master of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and never understanding exactly what he did wrong.
While The Big Bang Theory was upping the Sheldon quotient (and why wouldn't it?), it could have easily toned-down the others aspects of the show which make it unique. I feel certain that there are those who can't get into the show because of the ways in which the main characters talk and interact. By excising some of the comic book or sci-fi movie references, and cutting down on the scientific jargon, I feel certain that the show could have a broader appeal. However, Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady have not shied away from those topics, and the show is as geeky as ever. On what other program will you see characters discussing the lascivious side of Comic-con or discussing how Babylon 5 is a decent compromise when choosing between Saturn 3 and Deep Space Nine? The series plays like a concoction created by Kevin Smith and Stephen Hawking.
Concerns for the show's mainstream appeal aside, it has done well in the ratings and I would certainly like to see it continue. While it does unjustly stereotype comic book and sci-fi movie fans (they aren't all nerds), the show's comedy is what is most important. The Big Bang Theory is consistently funny and save for Howard's attempts at being a lothario, it rarely hits the cheap sex joke for a laugh. Intelligent characters on an intelligent sitcom is a true rarity and it should be applauded.
The Big Bang Theory tells you that you're in its seat on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. This four-disc DVD set contains all 23 episodes from the show's second season. The episodes have been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, most notably reds and blues. The image is never overly dark or bright. Yes, this looks like a sitcom, but the image is crystal clear and certainly rivals HD broadcast quality. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a dialogue-driven sitcom, we don't get an abundance of dazzling effects here, the stereo effects are good, and the live audience emanates form the surround channels.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season DVD set contains only three extras, all of which can be found on Disc 4. "The Big Bang Theory: Physicist to the Stars" (10 minutes) introduces us to Dr. David Saltzberg, the science consultant for the show. We get comments from Saltzberg, who explains how he got involved with the show. We also hear from the show's cast and producers, who talk about their interaction with the expert. "Testing the Infinite Hilarity Hypothesis in Relation to the Big Bang Theory" (15 minutes) is a featurette which examines the show's second season. The cast talks about how their characters have continued to evolve, and how the show has remained grounded. We also get a look at some of the bigger plot points from Season 2. Finally, we have a 9-minute GAG REEL.
On July 10, 2012, Warner Home Video brought The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season to Blu-ray Disc. The 23 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 extras on the Blu-ray Disc are the same as those found on the DVD set.
Review Copyright 2009/2012 by Mike Long