There are many great mysteries that have troubled mankind… how did it all begin? … is world peace possible without removing freedom? … why do all Hooters waitresses say “Welcome to Hooters” the exact same way?
One of my greatest mysteries involves the The Big Bang Theory. Not the explanation for the beginning of everything, but the television show nearing the conclusion of its fourth season.
Roughly, I’d say 65-70 percent of the show is crap. There’s an abundance of reheated sitcom fare recycling the established cliched conventions that have dominated sitcoms since the mid 80s. Very little involving the show is actually new. You have a will-they-or-won’t-they relationship with Leonard and Penny. You have a wacky roommate. You have a few strange characters to bounce jokes off.
Yet, there I am every Thursday watching it.
The anchor is, of course, Sheldon. His first two seasons were his strongest. The charm of Sheldon is that he envisions himself as an emotionless trailblazer revolutionizing the world of physics and existence in general. His inability to understand basic human interaction is a nice juxtaposition with his mastery of physics. Yet, even as he spouts ridiculous rules or borders on obsessive/compulsive behavior, part of me has to agree with his logic.
What really colors his character is his friendship with Penny. Oddly enough, the two have actually fallen into a strangely amusing relationship. I honestly don’t care if Leonard and Penny ever get back together, but I look forward to any episode that features Sheldon and Penny interacting.
Penny brings out the humanity in Sheldon. It’s easy to forget his Texas upbringing sometimes.
The other element that keeps me returning every week is the geek culture. Though the writers do tend to get lazy and take shots at geek culture, they get a lot right as well. In particular, I like the non sequitur geek debates that usually involve Sheldon. I’ve had many of those same arguments in the past.
At the moment, the biggest weaknesses involve Penny, Howard and Raj.
Penny’s been in the background for most of season 4. Watching her slowly be sucked into geek culture was a big part of the first three seasons. This year she’s popped up for an occasional joke, but she’s hardly been a vital part of the program.
Howard and Raj work best when women are involved. Howard’s relationship with Bernadette has sucked a bit of the life out of the show. It’s not Melissa Rauch’s fault. Don’t get me wrong. But Howard is at his best when he’s pathetically trying to attract the attention of the opposite gender… especially when a drunken Raj is along for the ride.
Amy Farrah Fowler has been the wildcard this season. She works well as an intermediary between Sheldon and common sense, but I think she could accomplish more.
So what would I do?
Well, if it were up to me. I’d probably do something like have Amy sleep with Raj. Angered at the loss of his colleague (though not out of romantic jealousy) Sheldon would attempt to woo Penny.
Bernadette would dump Howard, after he did something appropriately pathetic.
Zack would become a permanent addition to the cast. Stuart would also be in the mix a bit more. (I’m a sucker for larger casts).