THE BIG BANG THEORY:
Okay, one of us has to stop putting up Spock.
Into its second season, THE BIG BANG THEORY proves itself to be one of the most consistently funny and delightful ensemble comedies currently on the broadcast roster. Considering that CBS has picked up THE BIG BANG THEORY for a third and fourth season, it’s fairly obvious that I am not alone in singing this wonderful sitcom’s praises. The appeal of THE BIG BANG THEORY certainly lies with its clearly defined characters and the show’s smart (but not too smart for its own good) writing, which got even better in its second season. Additionally, one has to heap praises on the actors who have become even more comfortable in their roles and have improved their crackerjack delivery.
Set in Pasadena, California, THE BIG BANG THEORY tells the story of a pair of geeky genius roommates, who continue to have difficulty interacting with those of normal intelligence. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) are Caltech theoretical physicists by day, and über-nerds by night- who spend most of their time in the virtual world of shoot ‘em up games or with fellow Caltech über-nerds Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). However, our little group found themselves forever changed, when a pretty young woman named Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moved into the apartment next door to Leonard and Sheldon.
Despite her attractiveness and average intelligence, Penny is a down to earth person, who befriends the geeky smart guys living next door… even if she doesn’t always understand what they are talking about. During season one, Leonard’s obvious infatuation with Penny leads to a first date. Season two starts with Penny doubting if she can sustain a long term relationship with Leonard, due to the difference in their intelligence, so an official second date doesn’t materialize. This isn’t to say that the spark between them is gone; instead, THE BIG BANG THEORY becomes the latest television show to milk the "will they or won’t they" dance of sexual tension between leading characters. Of course, the romantic angle between Leonard and Penny is only a small part of the character-based comedy, with the social ineptitude of the small circle of friends continuing to generate big laughs every week. The cast of THE BIG BANG THEORY remains nothing short of perfect. Galecki is a great straight man and underdog; the kind of guy who you hope gets the girl. Parsons gets even better with every episode as floats innocently through his character’s deluded bubble of self-importance. Cuoco is the right combination of pretty, sweet and approachability. Helberg nails the goofy "mama’s boy" wannabe ladies’ man nerd, and his verbal exchanges with his never seen (but always heard) mother are utterly hilarious. Nayyar is a scene-stealer, getting big laughs either during his moments of female proximity panic induced silence, or when he is coming on to women in an intoxicated state. Finally, Sara Gilbert’s reoccurring character Leslie Winkle acerbically stirs the pot, and is at her best, when she is bursting Sheldon’s bubble.
THE BIG BANG THEORY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($45) comes to DVD in a three-disc set that features the following twenty-three episodes that were aired during its sophomore year: The Bad Fish Paradigm, The Codpiece Topology, The Barbarian Sublimation, The Griffin Equivalency, The Euclid Alternative, The Cooper-Nowitzki Theorem, The Panty Piñata Polarization, The Lizard-Spock Expansion, The White Asparagus Triangulation, The Vartabedian Conundrum, The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis, The Killer Robot Instability, The Friendship Algorithm, The Financial Permeability, The Maternal Capacitance, The Cushion Saturation, The Terminator Decoupling, The Work Song Nanocluster, The Dead Hooker Juxtaposition, The Hofstadter Isotope, The Vegas Renormalization, The Classified Materials Turbulence and The Monopolar Expedition.
Warner Home Video has made all twenty-three episodes from THE BIG BANG THEORY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on DVD in a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. Quality is similar to what was seen in season one, with the episodes looking quite good on DVD. Image sharpness and detail are just fine for standard definition, but I am really getting the yen to see what THE BIG BANG THEORY would look like on Blu-ray. Colors are nicely saturated and stable while the flesh tones are attractive. Blacks are deep and the whites are crisp. Contrast is good, and fortunately, sitcom lighting doesn’t flatten out the picture. The visual elements are free from defects. Digital compression artifacts are not a problem.
THE BIG BANG THEORY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON arrives on DVD with Dolby Digital 2.0 channel surround stereo soundtracks. This is more of the same, as we had with season one. The soundtracks get the job done- that’s it. As this is unimaginative sitcom sound, almost everything is mixed front and center. There are occasional channel separations, but they don’t really enliven things. Fidelity is fine for a television production; the music sounds nice and sound effects get by without problems. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. Portuguese language tracks have also been included on the DVD, as have English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese and Thai subtitles are provided.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Featurettes include: Physicist To The Stars (10 minutes) and Testing The Infinite Hilarity Hypothesis In Relation To The Big Bang Theory (15 minutes). A Gag Reel closes out the extras.
THE BIG BANG THEORY is one of the funniest shows currently airing on television. The DVD release looks good and sounds just fine. Highly recommended.
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