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The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season(TV) (2013-2014)
The further adventures of Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Raj, Penny, Bernadette and Amy.
For more about The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season and the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray release, see the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray Review published by Michael Reuben on September 21, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 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 Seventh Season Blu-ray Review
May the Farce Be With You
Reviewed by Michael Reuben, September 21, 2014
By popular request (one could almost say "demand") of the Blu-ray.com forum, I am taking over responsibility for reviewing releases of the hit CBS series The Big Bang Theory (hereafter "BBT"), for which I previously wrote up Seasons 1 and 2. My friend and colleague Kenneth Brown typically handles Blu-ray product issued by Warner's TV division, and I have enjoyed all his reviews of BBT on Blu-ray, but he is admittedly not a devoted fan of the show. Forum members who are fans of BBT seem to believe that I will write something more favorable to their taste, based on my prior reviews, but I'm afraid they will be disappointed. Five years after the last season I enjoyed, the series co-created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady has clearly run out of steam. The once-intriguing characters have settled into predictable and familiar rhythms; the jokes are dull and repetitious; and the original relationships, now weighed down with the introduction of poorly drawn new characters, have been twisted and strained to the point where they're no longer fun. The entire enterprise has the brittle quality of a once-great notion that has overstayed its welcome, while its creators phone in the least possible work necessary to continue collecting residuals. Just kidding. Would this be a good moment to say "bazinga!"? In its seventh season, BBT continued to demonstrate both the imagination of its writers' room and the malleability of Lorre's and Prady's original concept, which melded up-to-the-minute content with classic sitcom structure. Lorre's mordantly funny "vanity cards" after the credits of each of his shows have become obsessively preoccupied with aging in recent years, but that serves as a reminder that his roots in TV comedy draw from deep springs. One of Lorre's first bosses was legendary TV producer Sheldon Leonard (for whom Drs. Cooper and Hofstadter are named), the genius who told Carl Reiner, "Your scripts are funny, but we'll get someone else to play you"—and thereby midwifed The Dick Van Dyke Show, one of BBT's comic ancestors. Now, for quite a few viewers, the venerable sitcom tropes just don't work. If one's preferred style of comedy is the deadpan, self-aware, laugh-track-free approach epitomized by The Office or Parks and Recreation, then I can understand how BBT might tend to grate. (Ken and I have had interesting discussions about what does and doesn't make us laugh; it's amazing what can be learned when contrary points of view are explored with an open mind.) Look closely at almost any forum discussion about BBT, and you will find posts from members who despise the show (or have grown tired of it) and don't hesitate to say so in terms far less diplomatic than anything written in a Blu-ray.com review. Humor is every bit as subjective as beauty, good taste or a preference between chocolate and vanilla ice cream. However, if you're one of the legions of fans who, like me, continue to find BBT hilarious, then the Blu-ray release of Season 7 is a must-own.
Spoiler alert: Familiarity with prior seasons is assumed. If you aren't up to the end of Season 6, don't read any further. Season 7 opens with Leonard (Johnny Galecki) still away on his North Sea expedition for Stephen Hawking, while both Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, as her name becomes mid-season) miss him desperately. But only Penny is willing to admit it. The on-again/off-again relationship between the short theoretical physicist and the tall blonde waitress who met only because they're neighbors has been one of BBT's most reliable sources of both comedy and pathos. In Season 7, the romance takes some interesting turns, especially after Penny decides to buckle down and focus on her dream of making it as an actress, a decision that raises serious questions, including whether to accept the part of a mutant ape-girl in the sequel to a trashy creature feature of which Penny is so ashamed that, to date, she's never even mentioned that she appeared in it. Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) is still so heartbroken over the loss of his neurotic almost-girlfriend, Lucy (Kate Micucci), that he has yet to absorb the full significance of his new-found ability to speak to women without first consuming alcohol. Eventually, though, he begins trying to make progress with the opposite sex, replacing his former awkward silence with inappropriate comments that prompt Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) to observe: "It was better when you didn't talk." By the end of the season, though, a glimmer of hope has presented itself in the person of someone who may be just as strange as Raj, in her own special way. Howard and wife Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) continue to explore the challenges of married life, with Bernadette becoming even more vocal about her husband's flaws. (At one point, she even describes him as "a fixer-upper".) Meanwhile, Howard, for all the grief he gives the people around him, remains the world's favorite candidate for a pie in the face. A call from NASA asking him to return to space (Episode 16, "The Table Polarization") generates the opposite of pride from those nearest and dearest to him, and his attempt at a double-date with Raj and one of his new lady friends (Episode 20, "The Relationship Diremption") leads to the most embarrassing night of his life—which, for Howard, is saying something. For Sheldon, there is too much change in the air. Girlfriend Amy (Mayim Bialik) takes a position at Sheldon's university, Caltech, which is closer to home than Sheldon would like (Episode 5, "The Workplace Proximity"). When Leonard and Penny buy a dining room table so that people will no longer have to eat while sitting on the floor, it's more than Sheldon can bear (Episode 16, "The Table Polarization"). A trip to Houston (Episodes 17-18) brings an unexpected confrontation with Sheldon's Bible-quoting mother (Laurie Metcalfe). And when Sheldon and all of the gang are shut out of the online queue for Comic-Con tickets, the world's most devoted fanboy openly revolts. He decides to organize his own convention and tracks down Darth Vader himself, James Earl Jones, to be his first panel guest (Episode 14, "The Convention Conundrum"). How does the celebrity react to the goggle-eyed Dr. Cooper? Let's just say that it's not what you'd expect. Comedy legend Bob Newhart makes several appearances in Season 7 as "Professor Proton" a/k/a Arthur Jeffries, the TV science professor who was Sheldon's boyhood idol. Newhart is inspired casting for BBT, because he was the nerd comedian of his era, basing many of his early standup routines on his experiences as an accountant. Professor Proton figures prominently in the late-season episode devoted to "Star Wars Day" (Episode 22, "The Proton Transmogrification"), and he plays a key role in prompting Sheldon, who hates change, to consider some potentially life-changing decisions. But more about that in the Season 8 review.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
As with previous seasons, Warner has released BBT's Season 7 on two 1080p, AVC-encoded BD-50s. The result is consistent with prior season releases, just as BBT's visual style has remained remarkably consistent over the past seven years. The digitally acquired image is sharp and detailed without any harshness, and no obvious artifacts intrude in the form of video noise, banding or other anomalies. Blacks are deep and solid, and the colors reflect the typical TV aesthetic of a world that's more cleaned-up and colorful than our own, but not so much that it strains credibility too far. The image doesn't "pop", but it isn't dull either, which, I suspect, is exactly the intended effect. The average bitrate for each episode is around 15.90 Mbps, which is low but acceptable for digitally acquired material where long stretches consist of conversational exchanges. Besides, this is Warner; tight compression is virtually company policy. In the case of BBT, it hasn't created any noticeable artifacts.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
BBT's audio mix reads as "5.1"—encoded on Blu-ray in lossless DTS-HD MA—but, as with most sitcoms, the bulk of the action remains in the front where the dialogue occurs. Audience reaction shades to the sides and a little to the rear, but the major use of the surrounds occurs during the whirling-atom scene changes and the Bare Naked Ladies theme song that opens and closes each episode. Then again, every so often an episode comes along that opens new sonic frontiers for BBT, and Season 7 provides such an opporunity in Episode 22, "The Proton Transmogrification". For those who haven't yet seen it, I don't want to spoil anything by describing specific sounds, but let's just say that there are some very obvious novelty effects, as well as a layering of background noises unlike anything previously heard in an episode of BBT. The episode will make you appreciate the soundtrack's clarity and dynamic range just as much as Howard's journey into space did at the end of Season 6. And let's not forget the opening scenes of Leonard on the deck of a storm-tossed ship in Episode 1, "The Hofstadter Insufficiency". The sound effects may not exactly scream out "Release the Kraken!", but they're louder than anything ever heard in Leonard's and Sheldon's apartment.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The collection of extras is unusually good for a BBT Blu-ray release. Also included is a DVD copy (on three discs), along with an Ultraviolet HD digital code that expires on Sept. 16, 2017.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There are those who simply don't like BBT. Season 7 will not win them over. For those who do enjoy the show, Season 7 demonstrates that the writers haven't come close to running out of ideas for these characters and that the cast remains game to try anything. At the same time, the characters retain their familiar identities even as relationships change and evolve. That is part of the classic sitcom model that Lorre and Prady applied in building BBT, and because the actors have so thoroughly brought these characters to life, fans now tune in weekly (or buy Blu-ray sets) to visit and catch up with old friends. BBT's initial novelty has inevitably worn off, but the Blu-rays for Season 7 are a pleasure to watch, whether or not you've already seen the episodes, and are highly recommended.
The Big Bang Theory: Other Seasons
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