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The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season(TV) (2009-2010)
Worlds collide in Season 3! A love affair with Penny has opened a big, wide, wonderful world of romance for Leonard. But Sheldon likes the world just the way it was, thank you. All of which makes for a zany comic triangle with brainy, clueless Sheldon and practical, grounded Penny hilariously vying for the role of hypotenuse.
For more about The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season and the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray release, see the The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 21, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 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 Third Season Blu-ray Review
An otherwise average sitcom cloaked in geek-chic flair and comic-shop cool...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 21, 2010
How can I possibly discuss with Stan Lee the scientific foundations for inter-stellar flight on a silver surfboard when part of my brain will be scanning his face for signs of contagious skin disease?
I should adore The Big Bang Theory. Scratch that. I should bleed, breathe and weep The Big Bang Theory. I should thank the oft-vindictive television gods on high for a comedy series that celebrates the comicbooks, TV shows and movies I hold dear. I should skip through everything else in my TiVo queue just to watch the latest episode of a sitcom specifically aimed at my narrow demographic. And yet, as each season comes and goes, I find myself falling farther and farther out of love with creator Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady's surprise CBS hit. I know comedy is a fickle mistress, and I know I'm probably in the minority here -- in just three short years, the series has nearly doubled its viewership, earned prime Thursday Night real estate and forged new ground with unabashed geeks and fanboys of all stripes -- but I rarely feel that surge of anticipation... that infectious flutter of excitement that comes as you sit down to watch a new episode of one of your favorite shows. Don't get me wrong, Big Bangers. I laugh. Oh, how I laugh. I nod. Oh, how I nod. Sometimes, just sometimes, I even clap at the obscure bravado of it all. But there's something inherently contrived about Sheldon and Leonard's misadventures in life and love; something that begins with the series' canned laugh track, seeps into its overtly sitcom-y subplots and illuminates the fact that, beneath all the clever comicbook shoutouts and unexpected subculture references, much of what happens in The Big Bang Theory is strangely familiar.
It might also interest you to know that Wil Wheaton currently ranks sixth on my all-time enemies list, right between director Joel Schumacher, who nearly destroyed the Batman movie franchise, and Billy Sparks, who lived down the street from me and put dog poop on the handles of my bicycle.
While story occasionally takes a backseat to whatever retro t-shirts, videogame memorabilia and '80s sci-fi classics claw their way out of nostalgia's primordial ooze, Theory's cast eagerly latches onto every light-up green lantern and Cylon-domed BSG... erm, toaster that enters the fray. Not that I mind. When the series focuses on the gang's mundane hijinks -- engaging in science lab rivalries, shooting the breeze over boxes of back issues, entering Magic-the-Gathering-esque tournaments, hunting for ordinary jobs, debating ownership of the One Ring, installing state-of-the-art home security systems, fantasizing about Katee Sackhoff or getting competitive at a comicbook signing -- the setups and payoffs are nothing short of inspired. A few jokes and gags fall flat, sure. That's the nature of any twenty-three episode beast. But Lorre and Prady's writers know their target audience and pander accordingly. It's when dating and romantic relationships take center stage that the series starts to flail.
Allegiance to male comrades before women who sell their bodies for money.
And therein lies the problem with Season Three. Experimental physicist Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Nebraskan girl-next-door Penny (Kaley Cuoco) become an item, newly disgraced theoretical physicist Sheldon (Jim Parsons) becomes jealous, Howard (Simon Helberg) begins seeing a microbiology undergrad named Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) continues his inexplicably successful conquest of the female of the species. The Big Bang Theory isn't Friends, nor should it be. Yet it wades into Ross-and-Rachel waters time and time again, sinking each time it tries to swim. Leonard and Sheldon are at their best struggling to find companionship, not when they actually find it. Strip away the comicbooks, Halo helmets, Wii-motes, vocabulary gymnastics, calculus equations and quirky insecurities. What remains is the same, tired ground sitcoms have been treading and retreading since Lucy and Ricky moved into their 68th Street brownstone.
I asked myself... what is the most mind-numbing, pedestrian job conceivable and three answers came to mind. A toll booth employee, an Apple Store Genius and what Penny does. Because I don't like to touch other peoples' coins and I refuse to contribute to the devaluation of the word "genius," here I am.
My relationship with The Big Bang Theory is easier to define: strictly casual. While I'm a sucker for reference-laced humor, television comedies like Arrested Development, Community, Malcolm in the Middle, Scrubs, 30 Rock, Modern Family, Parks and Recreation and The Office are more my speed. No obnoxious laugh tracks, smart single-camera coverage, and not a single pre-packaged, three-wall set in sight. I've made a number of notable exceptions over my thirty-odd years -- The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Cheers, Friends and, most recently, How I Met Your Mother -- but a show has to bring something special... something refreshing to the sitcom table to make me sit up and take notice. And that something has to be more than pop culture references, regardless of how much each one might appeal to my particular breed of geek. (I'm genetically predisposed to Marvel Comics, '80s cartoons, NES classics, Batman and Green Lantern, and Battlestar Galactica, among other things.)
Okay, please don't take this the wrong way, but I'd rather swim butt-naked across the Ganges with a paper cut on my nipple and die a slow agonizing death from a viral infection than work with you.
So no, I'm not ready to commit to The Big Bang Theory. But a casual relationship can still be fun, right? Galecki and Parsons are pitch-perfect as their respective socially inept megaminds, Helberg and Nayyar keep each episode light and leveled, a steady stream of recurring characters and hey-isn't-that guest stars are deployed wisely, and only Cuoco is a drag. (She gives Penny her all, but the writers' go-to country-girl schtick grows old, and I didn't buy her season-long relationship with Leonard for a second.) Solid laughs abound -- situational and interpersonal -- and only a handful of one-liners, slapstick interludes and derivative scenarios spoil the momentum. If the showrunners jettisoned the laugh track and ventured out beyond the boys' apartments and local comicbook shop, the series would immediately elicit more enthusiasm from people like myself. But the Rules to Sitcom Happiness both Lorre and Prady penned for Two and a Half Men prevail here as well, and The Big Bang Theory writers seem more concerned with delivering a viable sitcom than in giving geeks round the world the brazen call-to-phasers they truly deserve. Too harsh? Perhaps, particularly since my series score is still relatively high. But Theory always seems to leave me a wee bit unfulfilled, and I'm beginning to despise it... even if just a little.
Roommates agree that Friday nights shall be reserved for watching Joss Whedon's brilliant new series, 'Firefly.' Might as well settle it now. It's going to be on for years.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
While much of The Big Bang Theory's humble 1080p/VC-1 presentation is bound, for better or worse, to the series' source and production values, a few technical issues hold Warner's television transfer back from perfection. The third season's twenty-three episodes are spread across just two discs, and while each entry's short length and lack of lossless audio should alleviate any subsequent limitations, minor artifacting, banding and other digital anomalies pop up from time to time. It isn't a deal-breaker by any means, but it is unfortunate. Thankfully, other aspects of the presentation are more sound. Colors are bright and vivid, black levels are fairly well-resolved, skintones are nice and warm, contrast is earnest (albeit a tad inconsistent when the lights go down) and edge definition is, for the most part, sharp and satisfying. Fine detail and shadow delineation aren't always up to snuff, and softness and crush sometimes creep into starkly or dimly lit scenes, but in each case, the series' showrunners, not Warner's encode, appears to be to blame. All in all, The Big Bang Theory's Blu-ray debut isn't going to elicit any tears of joy or inspire any hyperbolic praise, but it will please the sitcom's fanbase.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I can't think of a word that better describes Warner's 640bps Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track than "passable." Dialogue is healthy, intelligible and neatly centered, lines are never lost in the mix, and sound effects remain crisp, clear and smartly prioritized throughout. However, little else impresses. LFE output is dull and diluted, the rear speakers are limited to supporting the series' hollow laugh track and delivering its already negligible ambience, dynamics are weak and rather thin, directionality is a joke, pans are merely adequate, and the whole of the experience is as front-heavy as they come. Temper any rage you might feel though. The Big Bang Theory couldn't offer much more, even if it arrived with a lossless audio mix in tow. As is the case with many multiple-camera sitcoms, the series' sound design is flat, two-dimensional and rather uninvolving. Hardly the stuff of high definition legend. Will fans mind? Not really. Comedy is king here, and Warner doesn't make any technical missteps. But does it sound any better than its DVD counterpart? I don't have a standard definition copy on hand, but I can't imagine the two are very different. Consider yourself warned and duly informed.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of The Complete Third Season doesn't offer much in the way of special features. Two quickie EPKs -- "Takeout with the Cast" (HD, 10 minutes) and a "Set Tour with Simon and Kunal" (HD, 8 minutes) -- prove to be little more than amusing diversions, a rapidfire "Gag Reel" (SD, 8 minutes) is funny enough to warrant a mention, and a BD-Live Portal houses the usual assortment of Warner trailers. Nothing more, nothing less.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
To those who thoroughly adore The Big Bang Theory: I'm thrilled you aren't distracted by its sitcom-iness. I really am. I would love nothing more than to sit down, take in an episode of a comedy designed to appeal to my personal geek sensibilities, and walk away grinning. But try as I might, I just can't shed my hangups, and my enjoyment suffers as a result. Unfortunately, the series' first Blu-ray release will disappoint diehards and casual fans alike. Its noteworthy video transfer is hobbled a bit by a few glaring issues, its Dolby Digital audio track is passable at best and its supplemental package consists of a whopping twenty-six minutes of material. Proceed with caution.
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