Monday, September 27, 2010

What I'm Watching: The Big Bang Theory

Here's the thing: Theory is not tough to watch.

I need to throw that out there, because the more I watch the show, the more I'm starting to see the flaws. But even as the flaws became more and more obvious, I never once wavered from zipping through all three seasons of the show in roughly a month.

So there's that.

But now the fourth season is up and running, and in a lot of ways it's like seeing a flaw in a really great painting... once you see the problem, you can't UN-see it.

So, yeah, Theory? Good show. But still...

1. Man, is it EVER a sitcom.

The sad fact of the show is, it's a really, really, really, REALLY light show. It's probably 40% catchphrases now, along with 40% obvious character jokes, 10% kind-of-lame silliness, and 10% cleverness.

The thing of it is, I really like the 10% cleverness. And Jim Parsons, as Sheldon? He earned that Emmy. And as long as he continues to channel a younger Rowan Atkinson, there will probably be more awards to come.

But still: It's a sitcom, with all that implies.

2. For a geek show? Not all that geeky.

And that's the thing - the show goes for the easy joke, while pretending it's the hard joke.

Most of the references on the show play into really, really, really, REALLY well-known areas of "geekery." Star Trek, which everyone knows. Avatar, which everyone knows.

And in superheroes, they cover Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman. The closest they come to a hard-to-get reference is probably The Flash.

Even in the realm of comic books, they go easy - talking about things that EVERYONE is aware of. Never mind the fact that Neil Gaiman is a New York Times bestseller, it's possible someone hasn't heard of him, so he gets no jokes.

And while they'll reference Star Trek, which made a huge splash in theaters in 2009, they totally skip over Watchmen, which also did very, very well.

When it came time to reference a comic book writer, they went to the Stan Lee well. Never mind that even a dude with a passing knowledge of comics should know Brian Michael Bendis. Or even Brian K. Vaughn - who also worked on Lost.

Is it whiny to want more from a show? Probably. But while I like to just sit and be entertained sometimes, more often than not it's nice to have one or two niche jokes, just for myself and my geeky pals.

And finally:

3. I question just how long they can keep the show going with it's current crop of actors.

This is not to downplay the folks on the show at all. Not one little bit. They're all talented, funny, and good at what they do.

But... there are only five of them, four of which are dudes. So making things stretch out using relationships is going to be not much of an option. And the whole on-again, off-again thing is gonna get old fast.

Right now, the show is one of the highest-ratest things on TV. But the backlash has already begun, with people deriding the show for often being too obvious (true) and for not being funny at all (not true).

It ain't a bad show. It goes down like candy. But I just wish it would try a little harder.

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