The Big Bang Theory: Season 8
The majority of sitcoms fail within the first year or two watched it because they are what are referred to as a high concept show. That designation indicates that the premise can be fully elucidated in only a sentence or two. Simplistic foundation for sitcom is usually sufficient to get a green light for production and even get the series on the air. The downside of this is the usually become a one trick pony and is only so much even the most talented writers squeeze out of one situation. Of course, there’s always an exception to prove the role in this case it can be found in ‘The Big Bang Theory’. The premise is indeed very simple; a beautiful young woman moves in a across the hall from a pair of geeky scientists to go on for hours about the search for the Higgs boson but can’t get a sentence out in front of a beautiful woman. The series has just finished its eight season with a guarantee for at least two more. It is one of the most popular shows on CBS and at science fictional comic book conventions their panels and autographed tables are packed beyond capacity. Not only that but the series can boast more actual Nobel Prize laureates as guest stars as well as icons of science fiction. For a half-hour sitcom it is not at all uncommon for guest appearance to include anyone from Stan Lee to Stephen Hawkins. The reason for these unprecedented elements of the show is simple; it is exceptional in every facet of its production. It all boils down to the show run is not being afraid to expand upon the premise enlarging it from three main characters to a finely tuned ensemble cast each constituent member is talented in their own right and go burst and working as part of the team. Over the last eight years this series has done something that many hour-long dramas could not achieve; the created characters which such depth and realism that the audience cannot help but to care for them and finds himself bonding on the deeply emotional level.
The original characters are still around and constantly growing. Dr. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), his brilliant but socially challenged roommate, Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and the beautiful girl across the hall, Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). The main relationship is between Leonard and Penny going through the usual on-again off-again status founded any romance story. By this season the relationship has blossomed to the point of them becoming engaged. Sheldon was always the obsessive-compulsive genius never realizes condescending remarks anything more than a simple statement of truth. The greatest personal growth of any character can be found in Shelton. He has become close friends with Penny and even has a girlfriend of his own, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik), a neuroscientist. Ms. Bialik may be best known for her own sitcom years ago, ‘Blossom’ but in the interim she has received her own PhD and is actually a neuroscientist, similar to her character. At first she was shy and retiring but in this season more socially confident and sees Penny as her best friend. This helped her to do was considered by their friends and possible, become Sheldon’s girlfriend. You still fairly oblivious to how to define that relationship and in a fashion similar to the formal roommate agreement with Leonard, Sheldon provided Amy with the detailed girlfriend/boyfriend agreement with seemingly endless provisions and causes. Emotional growth is a key factor to the success of the series and was allowed to organically grow over the years. Unlike most sitcoms there is nothing contrived about the often unusual relationships this cadre of geniuses faces. You grow to like the character so much you accept the often bizarre circumstances that seem to follow them. Dr. Rajesh Ramayan (Kunal Nayyar), better known as Raj, with an expertise in particle astrophysics. This character began as someone so painfully shy that he had to be drunk in order to talk to women. After watching all his friends managed to have stable relationships he eventually came around and in this season is dating an exceptionally beautiful redheaded young woman, Dr. Emily Sweeney Laura Spencer), and MD specializing in dermatology. She fits right in as she has a rather bizarre and somewhat dark side to her personality.
The only non-PhD among the men in the group is Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) who has a Masters in engineering. True to reality, going on to her doctorate is rather rare. Howard was always a mama’s boy, literally, still living with his mother who was never been seen but only her loud, grating voice booming orders at Howard from another room. Howard has a certain achievement that gives him unprecedented credit among his friends; he had been a mission specialist as a member of the space shuttle crew. He is currently married to Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch), a microbiologist. She was introduced as a coworker with Penny as a waitress in the Cheesecake Factory. This season Bernadette helped Penny get a job as a sales representative for large pharmaceutical firm. Realizing that her dreams of being an actress not going anywhere fast, Penny decided that she needs a more stability in her life especially as she becomes romantically serious with Leonard. Inherently bright outgoing personality makes Penny a natural for this job to quickly become very successful in it.
One minor character moved up to being a regular this season is Stuart Bloom (Kevin Sussman), the owner of the comic book store the guys frequent on a regular basis. But his card bookstore burns down, Stuart winds up staying with Howard’s mother and develops a close bond with her. Mrs. Wolowitz had some difficulty when Howard moved out after getting married and Stuart became ersatz on to her. Even in this rather odd turn of events the change of relationship dynamics was gradual. When Howard started to become serious with his relationship with Bernadette, Raj and Stuart as a sort of replacement is best friend. One of the many things I enjoy about this series is that it does create a rather consistent universe for itself. Real life actor, Wil Wheaton place himself in the series as a recurring character. Sheldon first hated him for an unintentional slight many years ago but by this season Wheaton appears rather frequently in a friendly capacity to the group.
A major component to the success of the series and his continued longevity is a balanced out the heavily male cast by creating what the fans have embraced as ‘Penny’s Posse’, Consisting of Penny, Bernadette and Amy. Not only does this provide a feminine point of view and potential for storylines but it agency balance to the all-important character development by showing how the women cope with their highly eccentric significant others. Amy tends to be overly attached to Penny having never had a close girlfriend before. Penny has been so accustom to hanging out with multiple degreed people that the fact that she’s the only non-PhD, actually the only non-college graduate, in the group never becomes a significant issue. Both Amy and Bernadette are quite at ease with the alpha female position Penny holds in their little group. She is the only one accustomed to having fun and knowing how to cut loose after work. This can be seen by an episode with you decide to have a prom, reenacting the social milestone they never participated in. Amy, who is not been able to get Sheldon past the platonic stage of their relationship, worried about the traditional post-prom expectations of intimacy. This episode also marks the last appearance of the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz. After the actress who portrayed her, Carol Ann Susi, passed away, the role the death of Howard’s mother into the story. Despite this being a comedy this turn of events provided some of the most poignant scenes in the series. It became a showcase for the characters to depict how deep their friendship was as they gather around to help their friend morn. Two series have been able to infuse such dramatic moments into what is usually a lighthearted comedy but thanks to the talented writers and gifted cast this series continues to entertain far more than any half-hour sitcom I can remember.