Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Big Bang Theory Takes a Break

     CBS's The Big Bang Theory has undergone some significant changes in its fourth season. Though you hate to see anyone mess with a good thing, these changes seem to be keeping the show fresh, and it may not have stayed that way if it hadn't made them. The most important is the signing of two new female characters, Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik), who are listed as full-time, but do not appear in every episode. Bernadette is the one woman who can deal with Howard's (Simon Helberg) creepy ways, while Amy Farrah Fowler is the female version of Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Now all we need is a female counterpart for Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and this Chipmunks-Chipettes parallel will be complete.

     In the fall finale this past week, Amy and Bernadette were not in sight, but strangely the male version of Penny (Kaley Cuoco) showed up Zack (Brian Thomas Smith). Early in the show, Penny frequently had dumb guys hanging around her, but as this was Zack's third appearance (he was in the week prior and last year's season finale), he seems geared to bring something else to the table. Unlike Amy and Bernadette, I find it unlikely that Zack will be a serious love interest for his counterpart. Penny has already expressed disinterest in him, having previously accused Leonard (Johnny Galecki) of ruining her for stupid men. No, Penny and Leonard will undoubtedly be the lone opposites-attract example of the series. But I like Zack, and as he is already calling the four main guys 'friends'. I hope that's a sign he will be sticking around, unlike the female version of Leonard, Leslie (Sara Gilbert), who was said to be added to the main cast, and then soon after disappeared.

     This week's episode was pretty sad. The main depressing parts came from Penny, clearly pining over Leonard, although not ready to do anything about it. The show can't let the two get too chummy too easily, or the series may lose steam. They already dated for awhile, and now they're taking time off. But Penny admitted to only keeping Zack around because of loneliness.

     There was also a new side shown to Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj when they picked on Zack. Bullied all their lives, when they clearly outnumbered a dumb guy, who was just trying to be friendly to them, they turned mean. It was a little hard to watch, as Zack exhibited real hurt feelings, though they were able to make it up to him pretty quickly. Mean is not an adjective I would have thought to apply to those characters before now, but clearly, they can be under the right circumstances. I hope it's not something we see too much of. They certainly made an effort to make him feel welcome after that.

     This sitcom is one of the funniest shows on television, and I don't see that changing. The dynamic between the main group is solidly hilarious, and not at all stale. The new characters circling around them have only bonded in ways that makes those connections stronger, rather than breaking them apart. As long as the show keeps doing what it's doing, they can have many more great years on television. The Big Bang Theory will return in early January.

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