'Big Bang Theory' booms into existence
The Big Bang Theory is the preeminent scientific explanation for how the universe came into existence. Basically, the Friedmann models reveal that the expansion of the universe from an incredibly dense primordial condition is consistent with the general theory of relativity as shown by the curvature of space and time. It's also a new sitcom from the creator of Two and Half Men, which is probably a lot easier to understand. However, sitcoms have had a rocky go of it lately, what with the burgeoning popularity of reality television. That doesn't mean they are dead, though. At least, I certainly hope they aren't.
We start this new situationally comedic journey with a conversation between two nerds (you can tell them by the comic book t-shirts and laptop bags. Wait, that describes my attire today. And most days. CRAP!) and their conjecture that the double-slit experiment in photon dynamics would make a HI-LARIOUS t-shirt. Because, really, what is funnier than quantum mechanics? Well, besides the EPR paradox, of course. I think I hate myself a little right now. Anyway, apropos of nothing, this conversation takes place on their way to the "high IQ sperm bank". Which a part of me really hopes exists, just because it amuses me greatly.
Once inside, having been given their donor information sheets to complete (and with the expected masturbatory humor), the taller nerd - Sheldon - begins to have second thoughts on committing what he terms "genetic fraud", given that there is no guarantee that their sperm will generate offspring with significantly high IQ. Which, while perhaps true in the strictest sense of there being no guarantees at all in the procreation crap shoot, I would be remiss if I were not to mention that intelligence does have strong hereditary patterns, so don't date dumb people. The shorter nerd - Leonard (whom you may remember as David, Darlene's long-time love interest on the now-syndicated Roseanne) - asks if the act of fraud is worth the reward, which would be enough income to allow them to upgrade their internet connection and get faster downloads. They both decide it is not and sneak out. Well, as much as two socially awkward people can sneak anywhere. Which is to say, not at all, really.
But this allows them to retreat to their apartment, up several flights of stairs, which causes Sheldon to note that a difference of 2mm in the tread height of individual steps will cause the majority of people to trip. Which makes me want to alter the tread heights of stairs and watch people fall. Apparently it made Sheldon want to do the same, and Leonard asks if that is the experiment that got him sent to boarding school. Thank god my parents were more lenient. I had to endure 9 years of nuns, but it was not in another state away from the rest of my family. Before we learn more about Sheldon's years away, the boys are stopped by the sight of their new neighbor. A perky blonde named Penny. Cue tongue tied stammering and halting conversation! It sounds like home.
Safely in the confines of their own apartment, Leonard wonders if they should invite the new girl over to share their Indian take-out lunch. Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like curry! Sheldon is immediately against it, arguing that they have season 2 of Battlestar Galactica to watch (with commentary on. Love!) and that the 212 friends he has on MySpace are enough for him. I wonder how dated that joke will seem in a decade. I mean, why destroy the classics you've created lampooning the Copenhagen interpretation with pithy pop culture references? That aside, Leonard overrides Sheldon by pointing out that he has never met a single one of his MySpace friends, so they don't count.
I am stopped dead in my note taking. Oh my dear and fluffy lord, the theme song is performed by the Barenaked Ladies. Bliss!
Penny strides into the boys apartment, and notices white boards with complex equations on them, and asks them if they are "like, 'A Beautiful Mind' geniuses" and Sheldon confirms that they are, of the CalTech science department variety. I think if I were him, I would point out that was genius sans schizophrenia, which is another strong hereditary pattern. Don't date crazy people! She asks what they do for fun and Sheldon answers that they play Klingon Boggle. Which is exactly what it sounds like. I don't know if you have ever met anyone who speaks fluent Klingon, but I have. I only want to know - if you are going to put effort into learning a second language ... why pick one so utterly useless on a job application? Then again, I had a decal written in elvish runes on my car, so I suppose I have little room to argue.
Leonard asks Penny to tell them about herself and when she starts by revealing her astrological sign I inwardly groan. Sheldon shares my sentiment. She continues that she is a vegetarian, except she eats fish ... and steak. My brain starts to hurt. She then reveals that she is a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. Leonard enthuses that he loves cheesecake until Sheldon points out that he is lactose intolerant, prompting Leonard to add "I don't eat it, I just think it's a good idea!" and causing me to laugh out loud. To cover my sudden craving for cheesecake. Lastly, Penny proclaims that she is writing a screenplay, about a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory. But it's not autobiographical, because the waitress she is writing about is from Omaha. My head hits the desk a few times, and so I miss the segue, but the punch line is Penny is crying. About a break up, the boyfriend who lied, cheated and whom she still loves, how hard moving is and how not even her shower works.
You know where this is headed.
Leonard offers the use of their shower and she bounces down their hall to take him up on the offer. Which is totally unrealistic, because what girl would take a shower without her own bath products? Oh, and in the home of near total strangers? While she is in the bathroom, two more CalTech nerds - Howard and Rajesh - show up, with a video of a Stephen Hawking lecture circa 1974 in their hands. Talk about a hot time! Leonard tells them there is a girl in their apartment, a claim met with disbelief until Penny appears in naught but a bath towel, asking for help working the plumbing. Leonard rushes off to lend a helping hand, and it is here that Penny gets the better of him. Stepping behind the shower curtain and casually tossing the towel back over, she asks him for a favor.
Now that's just mean. Smarter than I gave her credit for, but mean. heh.
The next time we see our intrepid heroes, they are in a car headed for Penny's ex-boyfriend's house to reclaim her television set. This will all end in tears, I just know it. Their buzz on the intercom is met with a firm "get lost", but undeterred they sneak in behind some girl scouts. They knock on the ex's door, and it opens up to reveal a man the size of a professional wrestler. Of course. Meanwhile, Penny is hanging out with Howard - who thinks he is far more smooth than he is - and Rajesh - who is unable to speak or make eye contact with her at all. It's hard to decide who is in more pain at the end.
Back downstairs, without their pants, the boys reassess their situation. Sheldon points out the entire ordeal is Leonard's fault because he thinks with his penis. And, like one comic foil to another, Leonard responds that that is biologically impossible - a line that bears little humor in the written form, but when delivered by a talented actor carries more comedy then you realize. And that is the strength of this entire episode so far. The writing swings from dry to vulgar, from over eager nerd to pop culture Illuminati, from expected to bizarre - but the actors carry it off, somehow. The stumbling nature of graceless intelligence in each performance somehow allows the material to flow.
As the boys trudge back up the stairs to their abode, Leonard bemoans his overly positive outlook on the chances for a real relationship between him and Penny, swearing that he is done with her. But, of course, one thankful hug from the pretty girl, and he is smitten all over again as she promises to make it up to them by taking them all out to dinner. She mentions a Thai restaurant and Sheldon says they can't eat Thai since they had Indian for lunch. When she asks what one has to do with the other, he points out that both are food styles based largely on curry, making them gastronomically redundant, before wondering if he will have to continually point out such obvious concepts to her. I'm willing to bet that much is certain.
In the end, the show provided me with several good laughs, I found Leonard endearing and Sheldon's delivery was near flawless. I do hope they don't overdo Penny as a typical ditsy blonde and that they further flesh out Howard and Rajesh. All in all, Theory may not be total genius, but it holds promise. And for a sitcom, that makes it pretty damn smart.