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January 11, 2013

In Praise of Big Bang Theory

I avoided this show for years because of Murphy Brown. Murphy Brown was "about politics," but the extent of the "politics" was insipid references to people who were in politics.

Like, "Gee, I haven't been this drunk since I did tequila shooters with Gary Hart!"

Wocka wocka. You mentioned a name I've read in a newspaper. How political.

I assumed the Big Bang Theory would be exactly like that, but swapping out political references for geek ones -- "Gee, I haven't been this drunk since I did tequila shooters with Gary Gygax!"

But it's not. It's actually smartly written, with some genuine care put into it. Apparently they have an on-staff scientist vetting all the science -- all the formulas, all the references, all the scientific analogies -- that appear on the show.

And the geek stuff is almost all stuff geeks actually talk about (or at least have thought about). Plot holes in movies, time-travel paradoxes, superhero continuity issues. Even when they talk about something that hasn't actually been a topic of geek conversation -- like Raj's contention that mummies are no different than zombies, except with respect to one minor fashion choice -- it's at least in the ballpark of a Real Geek Topic.

I wanted to mention it because last night's show, which should be on demand if you have that service, was a pretty good entry point for people who don't watch the show. It's a solidly above-average episode, if not really in the top ten,* and requires almost no prior knowledge to enjoy -- except, basic idea: Four geeks, three Ph.D. scientists in physics and one engineer, are friends and work at the same university (CalTech, I think); three of them have girlfriends.

The episode is called "The Bakersfield Expedition." Should be the most recently aired one. Or: Thanks to MamaAJ, it's available online right here.

It has a killer punchline at the end I keep repeating to myself. I was going to try to explain the line, but realized how ridiculous it is to try to explain a line that depends 90% of the actress' delivery.

The line's near the end, by the way. The helium-voiced blonde Bernadette says it from behind a closed door. You'll probably know it when you hear it.

Bizarrely, this episode has garnered minor geek controversy by claiming that girls don't read comic books. Online geek-girls dispute that. Whatever -- the girls on the show are not geeks (except for one, and she's not so much a geek as she is socially inept) and they don't read comic books generally.

Damned geeks. Let's kick them out of their frat house and take it for our own.

* All the tip-top episodes star Sheldon, who is both the show's standout actor as far as comic talent and the character written with the most abundant comic potential -- he's sort of Stewie from Family Guy, but with intense OCD and Asperger's.

I think in later seasons they try not to feature him too much and make it a more balanced show where everyone's featured fairly equally; and the rest of them are pretty good and all, but seriously, Sheldon's the star. He's the Kramer, the Stewie, the Fonz.

This one has only moderate Sheldon content but is a good example of the show giving good lines to the other characters.



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posted by Ace at 06:18 PM

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