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The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season(TV) (2010-2011)
Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj continue their trek for love and happiness.
For more about The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season and the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray release, see the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 12, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, 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 Fourth Season Blu-ray Review
"You may have gone to Cambridge, but I'm an honorary graduate of Starfleet Academy."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 12, 2011
The Big Bang Theory continues to elude me. It shouldn't -- if a focus group of my closest friends were tasked with producing a sitcom perfectly suited to my geek-chic tastes and Comic-Con sensibilities, the sitcom they would no doubt devise would bear a striking resemblance to The Big Bang Theory -- and yet it does. This time around, though, I've settled on my biggest issue with the series: the explosive belly laughs of the studio audience and, to a greater extent, the crutch such adulation slips beneath the arm of every writer and actor on the show. When every joke and punchline is primed and prepped for uproarious laughter, how witty does each one need to be? Not very. When every comic-shop culture reference is greeted by the thunderous roar of an adoring crowd, how clever does each one need to be? Not very. When every pratfall, cracking voice, social faux pas and heelarious misadventure in love is greeted by unwavering approval, how endearing can the beloved Big Bang nerds really be? The answer? Not very. For all the Star Trek references, Flash T-shirts and talk of advanced physics, ancient Romulan rituals and science symposium etiquette, The Big Bang Theory is just another formulaic quirky-cast sitcom wrapped in a homemade Enterprise Ensign's red shirt. Search your feelings, dear readers. You knooow it to be true...
More often than not, issues notwithstanding, The Big Bang Theory's third season scraped across my funny bone often enough to earn a mild recommendation and a reluctant "if it floats your boat, more power to you." But Season Four didn't quite connect. I laughed more than I groaned -- even though it was usually more of an approving exhale accompanied by a slight grin -- but I could feel the series' charm wearing thin as I plowed through all twenty-four episodes. Perhaps oversaturation did me in. Perhaps Theory is best served week to week in small, twenty-minute increments. Perhaps the showrunners' need to explain or promptly identify nearly every reference they drop finally did me in. Or perhaps I'm simply baffled by the series' mass appeal and desperate to hone in on why I remain on the outside looking in. Whatever the case, I was uncomfortably quiet while slogging through the more barren wastelands of Season Four and found myself growing more and more disenchanted with the love lives of Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar).
Word to the wise: if your blood is boiling, if your angry forum fingers are twitching, it's probably best to skip down to my video and audio reviews which, I assure you, aren't tainted by my indifference to the series.
Every sitcom has a cadence. A beat. A rythym. Sometimes it exists between the cast (Parks and Recreation), sometimes between the showrunners and the audience (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), sometimes between the characters and their stories (Modern Family), sometimes between a pop culture wink and a movie parody nudge (Community), and sometimes -- just sometimes -- between a series' writers and the gods of meta-comedy themselves (Arrested Development). But The Big Bang Theory's rythym is an outdated, altogether tiresome tik tik TAK, tik tik TAK. Reference, joke, LAUGH. Reference, joke, LAUGH. The references, though, are pre-cooked and oh so user-friendly. Even when the writers venture beyond the Neutral Zone, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) feigns confusion and is immediately schooled on exactly why the omnipresent live audience just had its most recent seizure. I'll admit I may be over analyzing a show that's meant to be quick-hit casual-geek escapism, but once you hear the Big Bang rythym, you can't unhear it. Once you realize it's merely a Friends clone by way of the United Federation of Planets, it loses its sheen. Once you notice how stilted each actor's delivery sometimes is (as if every perfectly framed setup and punchline is an exercise in precision staccato), Leonard and Sheldon suddenly seem like the contrived and, oddly enough, ordinary Children of the Sitcom Atom they are. He's Ross, he's a Ross-ier Ross. Oh, and here's a Jewish Ross and an Indian Ross for good measure. The only difference is the Rosses outnumber the Rachels, Chandlers, Joeys, Monicas and Phoebes four to one. Five to one if you factor in Mayim Bialik, who essentially exists as fem-Sheldon rather than a new, more formula-rippling love interest.
But before I wear out my welcome, let me offer this consolation prize: those who do enjoy The Big Bang Theory are in for another round of anti-hipster hijinks, Justice League costume parties and unbearably awkward hookups. Sheldon and Amy try to maintain a relationship and their emotional distance, Leonard continues to pine for Penny while playing the proverbial field (which, at one point, involves Raj's sister), TNG's Wil Wheaton (!) returns to spoil the boys' attempt to see an extended edition of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Sheldon develops an affinity for cats (two dozen cats, to be specific), Raj and Sheldon battle it out (for ownership of a desk), Penny helps her sometimes-nemesis retrieve his stolen World of Warcraft account, Howard struggles with insecurity when he meets one of Bernadette's exes, Raj delves into the world of experimental drugs... and the wheel turns, ever on. As much as I've shrugged off the series' rythym, I will say Galecki and Parsons have a blazing, tit-for-tat handle on their barbs and one-liners, Helberg and Nayyar brandish their sidekick schtick with introverted bravado, and Bialik and Melissa Rauch hold their own, despite their somewhat thankless roles. Cuoco is still one of many obstacles in the series' path to greatness, but I have a hard time faulting her performance when, as Sheldon and Leonard's intermediary to the audience, she has so very little to work with. But it's Wheaton, of all people, who stands as a beacon in the sitcom darkness. If only his villainy took root in more episodes...
Sheldon and Leonard are misunderstood losers, and it almost feels mean-spirited to be so harsh. But The Big Bang Theory has more than mass appeal, more than thriving ratings, more than impressive word of mouth. It has potential. Of course, I'm not a television executive. Were I to run The Big Bang Theory the way I see fit, I suspect it wouldn't be a network hit at all. In demanding more of its audience, it would unfortunately attract a smaller fanbase than it currently enjoys. At the moment, it isn't brain-dead comedy, don't misunderstand. But it isn't braniac comedy either. Ah well. Comicbook quips and sci-fi references are in short supply so, for now, I suppose I'll stick with The Big Bang Theory for a few more seasons. Maybe it will discover new life forms, uncover new civilizations and boldly go where few sitcoms have gone before.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
If they took all the money trying to make a decent Hulk movie, they could probably just make an actual Hulk.
Like The Complete Third Season before it, the Blu-ray edition of The Complete Fourth Season has a few issues. First and foremost, its 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation eeks by on flashy colors and decent detail, but never quite seals the deal. Bright Trekker reds, bold Green Lantern greens, dazzling electromagnetic blues and deep-space black levels splash across the screen and almost make the series' at-times oversaturated skintones easier to stomach. Vivid contrast, a variety of reasonably well-resolved closeups and fairly sharp (albeit hit-or-miss) edge definition go down smoothly as well, and only disappoint when the cameras follow Sheldon and Leonard out of their warmly lit, studio-set stomping grounds. Nighttime excursions take a particular hit -- the worst of which softens and smears the moonlit car rides in "The Benefactor Factor" -- while overall clarity is inconsistent and, in some episodes, unwieldy. More distressingly, brief bursts of minor artifacting, banding, noise and other less-intrusive oddities cast doubt on Warner's decision to pack all twenty-four episodes on two discs. All that being said, the presentation isn't a complete loss and warps past its DVD counterpart. The majority of episodes reside in the 3.5 range, with some drifting toward a 4.0 and some plummeting toward a 2.5. I'm sure fans will be quick to overlook all that ails The Complete Fourth Season, however negligible some of its issues may be, but I doubt newcomers and videophiles will be so forgiving.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Amy pointed out that, between the two of us, our genetic material has the potential of producing the first in a line of intellectually superior, benign overlords to guide humanity to a brighter tomorrow.
While the addition of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is certainly appreciated, it doesn't enhance the listening experience much at all. At least not in this particular case since The Big Bang Theory is about as front-heavy as they come. Dialogue is crystal clear, effects are engaging and the laugh track is heartier than ever... but it all resides around the center of the soundfield. The rear speakers are infuriatingly quiet and only seem to pipe up when scene transitions send a slight sonic shudder surging along the floor. LFE output is adequate, but little more; dynamics are passable, but lack that special something; and directionality is practically non-existent (with few exceptions). That said, any criticism should be leveled at the show's two-dimensional, stage-bound sound design rather than Warner's lossless efforts. For all intents and purposes, front-heavy or no, the DTS-HD track is on point.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
What choice did I have? The mighty Sheldor, level 85 blood elf, hero of the Eastern kingdoms has been picked clean, like a carcass in the desert sun. Plus, the FBI hung up on me.
The 2-disc release of The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season trots out more extras than The Complete Third Season (including an exclusive featurette), but audio commentaries and meatier features are still MIA.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If we lived in the world where slow moving xenon produced light youd be correct. Also, pigs would fly, my derriere would produce cotton candy, and The Phantom Menace would be a timeless classic.
Exile me to Ceti Alpha V if it makes you feel any better. I understand, I do. The Big Bang Theory and all its geeky glory just doesn't do it for me anymore, and I find myself resisting its gravitational pull more and more with each passing season. Unfortunately, even the most diehard Big Bangers will be disappointed with the Blu-ray edition of The Complete Fourth Season. Its video presentation is plagued by several issues, its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a front-heavy bore and its supplemental package can be exhausted in less than an hour. Series fans will still find it to be far superior to its DVD counterpart, but more discriminating Theory junkies will probably want to wait for its price to drop before buying in.
The Big Bang Theory: Other Seasons
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• The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season Blu-ray - June 8, 2011
From Warner Home Entertainment, all 24 episodes of "The Big Bang Theory: Season Four" will make their Blu-ray debut in September. Starring Katey Cuoco (Hop), Johnny Galecki ("Rosanne"), and Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Jim Parsons (Garden State), "The Big Bang ...
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