The Big Bang Theory, back on the air

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Nov. 17 2008 9:57 AM

The Big Bang Theory, back on the air

I'm a big fan of the CBS TV show The Big Bang Theory. It's a comedy about two über-nerdy physics researchers who live together in an apartment. One of them, Leonard, has a crush on Penny, the attractive "normal" woman who lives across the hall (more on her in a sec). They have two more über-nerd friends, and the stories tend to revolve around the love interest of Leonard and Penny as well as the goofy messes the men get into because they are so socially maladjusted.

Yes, that's my mousepad.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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At first, I didn't want to like the show. For example, the character of Penny was, for lack of a better term, portrayed as a ditz. However, over time, they let her grow, and now she's intelligent and warm, which was a good choice for the show. She's a lot more normal now, and grounds the characters far better.

As for the scientists on the show... most people would say the characters are over-the-top stereotypes. But I know a whole bunch of scientists just like them. I mean, eerily completely like them (in fact, I know one or two who make Sheldon look like George Clooney). Cripes, I'm not as bad as the guys on the show, but I see a lot of myself in them. I've argued over whether Superman flies or jumps (he flies, duh), and I laughed and laughed at the spherical cow reference they made last season. Man, that was beautiful. I must have explained it to a dozen people -- and in the episode, when someone told Leonard he should open a scientific talk with a joke, I laughed in my head thinking he should go with the spherical cow. And then they started talking about it.

Nerdgasm.

Then, at Comic Con, I found out Bill Prady, one of the writers of the show (and official BABloggee), is One Of Us. His geek cred is solid.

After watching a few episodes, I realized that the writers weren't mocking the characters because they were geeks. Sure, there are plenty of jokes at the expense of them being geeks, but that's true for any comedy featuring some kind of comedic stereotype. But in fact, I think the writers are praising these guys. They're smart, they're successful in their field, but they have quite a bit of trouble fitting in with the "real world", and can be pretty irritating... but we wind up caring about them. They're likable. It would have been easy to make them the butt of every joke in the show, but the writers don't go there.

So I love the show. Which is why I was ticked initially when I missed the premier of the second season this fall. Busy busy. I may have to get of these TiVo things I keep hearing about.

Or maybe I'll build one.

OK, I'm not that much of a geek. But I'll add that my e-friend Clifford Johnson is just such a geek, enough of one that he actually got to be on a clip promoting the show on Extra TV!

Yes, I'm jealous. CURSE YOU, CLIFFORD!

I watch very little TV, but TBBT is on the preferred list. Due to the miracle of the intertoobs I have caught up with this season, and so now I'm eagerly awaiting tonight's episode.

Oh, one last thing: Episode 6 of this season (where Sheldon has a woman "helping" him) has just about the best conflict resolution I have ever seen on a sitcom, nearly equal to how Stewie resolved the time paradox on Family Guy. Wonderful.

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