The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season
Warner Home Video
Starring: Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg
Best for: Parents and mature teens
PopFam Rating: B+
Show Summary: Socially awkward scientists and a pretty neighbor girl become friends, creating a funny peer group of misfits and less-than-brilliant beauties.
If you ask me, the wildly popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory is the funniest show on television,
Of course, "funny" and "wildly popular" don't always mean "appropriate for family viewing." So parents should be warned that, like it's creative sibling Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory spends most of it's time on the topic of sex, with characters frequently appearing (pre- and post-coital) in bed together, talking about sex, making sex jokes, and basically being sex-sex-sex-obsessed.
HOWEVER, if your teens are able to separate real-life from sex-joke fantasy, and are mature enough to avoid making sitcom characters their romantic role models, well, then The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season (on Blu-ray and DVD) is going to be a lot of fun for you all.
This show works off the following premise: Young, dorky scientific geniuses from Cal Tech University become friends with a young, pretty "dumb blonde" who lives across the hall and makes vague attempts at a career in acting. These three become the core players in a group of dysfunctional friends who manage to embrace many funny personality quirks and outlandish adventures in romance and life.
Johnny Galecki plays Leonard, the emotional straight man of the group, and Emmy Award-winning Jim Parsons is his neurotic and brilliant roommate, physicist Sheldon Cooper. Kaley Cuoco fills the shoes of the not-so-dumb-after-all blonde in her role as neighbor Penny, and outlandishly funny supporting players round out the rest of the multi-cultural cast.
In Season 4, romance is in the air as Leonard starts up a relationship with Priya, the beautiful-n-smart sister of his nerd-buddy from India, Raj (Kunal Nayyar). Sheldon finds a girl almost as neurotic as he is in Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik), and Howard (the superb Simon Helberg) stumbles hilariously through his first experience with a real girlfriend.
The season begins by introducing new character, Amy, into the group. Found through a dating service, she's a neurobiologist and an emotionally stunted "perfect girl" for Sheldon - although they both disdain the idea that either would actually date the other. The fun just gets rolling from there.
Episodes in Season 4 I particularly enjoyed included "The 21-Second Excitation," which reprised Sheldon's ongoing rivalry with real-life Star Trek actor, Wil Wheaton, as well as "The Herb Garden Germination," in which Sheldon and Amy conduct a human behavior experiment by spreading gossip among their friends. Also fun are "The Justice League Recombination" (superhero costume contest included!), and "The Prestidigitation Approximation" (Howard stumps Sheldon with a simple card trick...or is it simple?).
Season 4 of The Big Bang Theory is just full of laughs, as well as many tender moments between friends. And, as in previous seasons, Simon Helberg's portrayal of Howard Wallowitz is worth the price of this Blu-ray set all by itself! Yes, Sheldon is the star, but Howard--purple pants and all--is easily the favorite.
Still, as I mentioned before, sex is a frequent topic for jokes in this show. Additionally, as you might guess from the evolution-centric title, religion in general is often a target for mild ridicule, with Christianity typically being characterized as the realm of slightly crazy bigots.
This shows up most when Sheldon's Texas-bred mother (Laurie Metcalf) makes a rare appearance, such as in Season 4's "The Zazzy Substitution." At the same time, Mary Cooper is also often, paradoxically, one of the few characters who is able to step and and save the day in a no-nonsense, albeit slightly offensive, way. Whenever the gang gets overwhelmed by Sheldon, Mary Cooper is her son's "kryptonite," who sets the world a-right once more.
In all, The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season isn't perfect - and some families will even find it offensive. But for my money, there's not a funnier sitcom on television today. I enjoyed immensely all 24 episodes (and some bonus features too)...and even managed not to jump in bed with a hot neighbor next door afterward. So this one is heartily recommended - but only for mature family members who don't take themselves (or their TV role models) too seriously.
Bonus features on the Blu-ray edition of The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season include: cast member interviews, music video, and gag reel.
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