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The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season(TV) (2011-2012)
Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj continue their trek for love and happiness.
For more about The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season and the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray release, see the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 8, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch
Directors: Mark Cendrowski, Peter Chakos, Anthony Joseph Rich, James Burrows, Howard Murray, Ted Wass
» See full cast & crew
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray Review
Sheldon and Leonard's fall from grace continues in the hit series' laziest season to date...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 8, 2012
On its surface, The Big Bang Theory is a picturesque sitcom. Eccentric, niche-culture nerd-herds roam its fertile plains, gathering near comic shop watering holes for socialization and sustenance, indulging in the freedom of high ratings and widespread popularity, and exiling any outsider who isn't willing to adopt its geek-chic customs and rom-com mating rituals. But the seemingly idyllic comedy is experiencing tremendous creative upheaval. The once witty banter and saber-sharp pop culture references of its first two fan-favorite seasons are now little more than a distant memory, and chasing hope that the show will recover has become something of a fool's errand. Had Season One arrived with the Phantom Menace scripting of Season Five, the series would have been yanked off the air in early 2008, if not sooner. But "getting back to the problem at hand..."
Cue riotous laughter from the series' studio audience, most of whom are oblivious to the irony. Simply put, after 111 episodes, The Big Bang Theory is all washed up. A sad state of affairs, yes. But it's the sad state of affairs showrunners Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady find themselves in just the same.
Our whole universe was in a hot, dense state, then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started... wait. The Earth began to cool, the autotrophs began to drool, Neanderthals developed tools, we built a wall, we built the pyramids! Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries that all started with the Big Bang. Bang!
Season Five doesn't deliver much bang, unfortunately, or offer much bang for your buck. Oh, there are laughs to be had, I'll admit. A few gut-busters even. (Wil Wheaton returns yet again as... Wil Wheaton!) Sadly, though, each episode drones by with only the briefest bursts of cleverly penned and carefully performed brilliance. Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and girl-next-door Penny (Kaley Cuoco) give love another go with ever-diminishing returns. Sheldon (Jim Parsons) finally enters a legitimate dating relationship with neurobiologist Amy (Mayim Bialik) to less-than-thrilling ends. Raj (Kunal Nayyar) continues to search for that someone special despite a debilitating shyness around women. (At one point the gang sets him up with a deaf girl, because decades-old deaf jokes are apparently the sort of thing the writers reach for when they're out of fresh ideas.) Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) get engaged and struggle with the practicalities of living together (Howard's mom poses a problem or two) and planning a wedding. And on and on and on. Detect a pattern? You should. It's Sitcom Chemistry 101. Character A has a physical attraction to Character B. Character A encounters numerous hurdles while pursuing Character B and laments how difficult it is to be a man, or man-child as it were. Character B, in turn, laments how difficult it is to be a female. Argue, patch up, make lame sex jokes, repeat.
Even in its finest hour, The Big Bang Theory was never the fanboy bastion its impassioned fans declared it to be. It was a bastion for the casual geek and the hipster nerd, and it's remained as such since its infancy. The comicbook references, Star Wars nods (which mainly amount to merchandise placement), and Trek diatribes (the series' bread-n-butter) are out in full force, just as they should be, but so too are the tedious explanations that come attached to nearly every gag, pop culture retort, movie quote or T-shirt. You know, just to keep the Pennys in the room up to speed. Not to mount a fanboy soapbox, but I don't need or want every reference dissected for me. Scratch that. Not to mount a sitcom soapbox, but I don't need or want every reference dissected for me. That's not a good sitcom. That's a dollar-store instructional video, one with a title like "Where and When to Laugh," "Acquainting Yourself with Pop Culture" or "Desperate to Understand, Too Busy to Try Harder." Season Five does the same... it just doesn't have to do it as often. Sheldon and his compatriots trot out lightsabers, Death Star Lego sets and Spock action figures galore, but the show doesn't seem all that interested in such trivial matters anymore. It's all window dressing. Big Bang's in-universe geekdom isn't an outcast culture as it once was, it's now a hobby. Its characters aren't all that passionate about the shows and films they adore, they're more concerned with the ins and outs of dating, relationships, work drama, living at the whim of a Dungeons & Dragons die and, for the women, the fear of becoming The Three Menstra-teers. (Amy's term, not mine.)
And I'm not alone. While apologists and duty-bound diehards will certainly continue to make their online rounds, the series' fifth season has been a disappointment for the vast majority of viewers, critics and fans alike. Even its finale, "The Countdown Reflection" -- easily among the show's worst episodes -- goes nowhere, even as one of the Big Bang mainstays launches into space. It doesn't bode well when the most exciting thing about a new episode is seeing what shirt Sheldon will don for the day, or what little-known comicbook will earn a mention, or who might pop up on set. (Stephen Hawking! Brent Spiner! Leonard Nimoy...'s voice!) But even guest stars are in short supply this season; a season that, in almost every regard, feels like a stripped-down, scaled-down version of the show to which millions pledged their undying devotion five years ago. Was it all for naught? Is this all there is? Is this the best Lorre and Prady can do? Can Season Six possibly right the series' course and boldly go, not necessarily to places the show has never been before, but to those places it once frequented? Is there any hope? The cynic in me says no. He says it'll only get worse from here. My inner fanboy, though, is holding onto every last thread of hope he can grab. I want to enjoy The Big Bang Theory again. I want to right a rave review for a show that should be my network lifeblood. Alas, with an audience eager to burst out laughing at everything the cast says or does, and Emmy and Golden Globe nominations inexplicably still trickling in, I doubt the showrunners and writers will be in any hurry to fix what they fail to see is broken.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
If you've caught any of The Big Bang Theory's previous seasons on Blu-ray, you know what to expect from The Complete Fifth Season's decent 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation. Color saturation comes on a bit strong, as is par for the series' course, and less-than-exacting edges, inconsistent clarity, and some arguably negligible encoding issues -- artifacting, banding and the like, minor as each one may be -- round out an at-times problematic image. That said, most of the eyesores are inherent to the series' semi-low-rent production and photography. Primaries pack Kryptonian punch, skintones are healthier than a bouncing baby Skywalker, black levels are comic-panel inky, and detail is more than up to the task at hand, pummeling its fifth season DVD counterpart into the pavement. Textures aren't all that refined, mind you (or discernible in some cases), but they aren't hyper-sharpened or smeary either. If nothing else, it's easy to scope the titles of books sitting on the racks in the comic shop, so none of it is inadequate. With a higher bitrate or perhaps an extra disc for its 24-episodes, would it look any better? It's hard to tell. Ultimately, videophiles won't cheer, but fans who've already picked up and pored through the series' first four seasons on Blu-ray will be equally pleased (or displeased) with the presentation.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
You know the old adage: front-heavy dialogue and eruptions of pinched audience laughter do not a memorable DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track make. With stagy conversations dominating the soundscape, interrupted only by brief cues signaling the end of a scene, there isn't much to go around. Sound effects are fine, voices are fine, pans are fine. There just isn't anything worth mentioning with the LFE channel or rear speakers. Flat and uninvolving at its worst, merely sufficient at its best, I can't really recommend this one. Of course, it's a fair representation of the series' flat, uninvolving, merely sufficient sound design, so I can't really fault it all that much either. I'll just leave you with one big "meh."
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Big Bang Theory's march into oblivion isn't finished yet, but the past-its-prime series spends its latest 24-episodes pushing deeper and deeper into mediocre sitcom territory. How long it can survive is really up to you. How long will you keep coming back, expecting the best and chowing down on the worst? As long as you continue coming back to the trough, they'll keep filling it with the same slop. Nuff said. Warner's Blu-ray release of The Complete Fifth Season is a lot like the previous seasons' Blu-ray releases: unremarkable. Season Five's video presentation is solid but its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track underwhelms and its emaciated supplemental package only has 45-minutes of meat on its bones. If you're a big fan of The Big Bang Theory and already have every other season sitting on your shelf, have at. If you're a casual fan, you might want to wait for a drop in price. If you've already been drifting away from the Theory fold, though, you may want to seriously reconsider subjecting yourself to the series' worst season yet.
The Big Bang Theory: Other Seasons
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• The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray - June 6, 2012
This fall, Warner Home Entertainment will bring The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fifth Season to Blu-ray. Starring Katey Cuoco (Hop), Johnny Galecki (In Time), and Emmy & Golden Globe-winner Jim Parsons (The Muppets), The Big Bang Theory follows the humorous ...
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