In the world of the Brilliant But Canceled TV, there’s always a common tale about how a show was building an audience when the network switched timeslots. The show tumbled in the ratings and found itself on the chopping block. Such could have been the fate of The Big Bang Theory. For two years the science geek series led off Monday night’s on CBS. But for its third season, they shifted it later into the night between Two and a Half Men and CSI: Miami. This could have been the end of Sheldon, Leonard and Penny if they proved to be a lead filler between the two golden series.
The gambit paid off. Instead of viewers begging to save the show, the shift allowed The Big Bang Theory to become a ratings monster. On many nights, the series dominated the key demographic numbers. People weren’t playing Wii between Charlie Sheen and David Caruso. They stuck around while others hit the clicker at 9:30 for the Bang. They wanted to share in the Sheldon lovefest.
The first 11 episodes this season kept the geek fun going at a high pace. Even with the prized time slot, the scripts hadn’t compromised its smart jokes to appeal to the folks that chuckle at Charlie Sheen’s bedroom burlesque. They didn’t load up on the funny from She’s the Sheriff. There’s enough science terms dropped to make you hit the internet to get true definitions. It hasn’t betrayed its geekiness in the discovery of ratings gold.
The season no longer teased Leonard (Johnny Galecki) with Penny (Kaley Cuoco) with just being friends. They’ve been dating since the geeks return from their North Pole experiment. What’s become quickly obvious is the real relationship chemistry exists between Penny and Sheldon (Jim Parsons). They are the true beauty and the geek. Leonard is almost human compared to the part Vulcan Sheldon. The struggle to find a common language and emotions between Penny and Sheldon are comic highlights of each episode. You forget that she’s supposed to be dating Leonard during these moments. Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard (Simon Helberg) act as like a closest couple although Howard finally has a girlfriend. He no longer has to imagine himself bathing with Katee Sackhoff.
The big highlight of the season is finally getting a real rival for Sheldon in the form of Wil Wheaton. He was even more evil than Kripke (John Ross Bowie). The co-worker is merely an irritant. Wheaton is a soul destroyer in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary.” In the future, Wheaton will be the guest of honor at Big Bang Theory conventions.
The biggest disappointment of the season is CBS not giving the show the coveted slot after this year’s Super Bowl. Instead they want us to suffer through a pathetic infomercial called Undercover Boss. CEOs pose as normal workers in their company and reward their employees. Wasn’t this an episode of Family Affair? After a bruising game of football, America really needed a little geek goofiness to remind us that you can also go to college to do more than learn the nickel defense. We don’t need a puff piece about millionaire CEOs toiling for a couple hours with the minimum wagers while being followed with a camera crew.
If there’s any predictions for the second half of the season, it will be the return of Wil Wheaton to torment Sheldon. He’s too good to be a one time guest star. Expect plenty of guest roles from other sci-fi and science icons. A member of The Wonder Years appears in an upcoming episode. I’d put my money on a Leonard Nimoy spotting. The nicest prediction is that Bang fans will be able to enjoy the remainder of the season without having to flood the network with pop rocks and Chinese food to save the show. They won’t have to be like fans of Chuck and Dollhouse with online petitions. Unlike Sheldon’s beloved Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory will be going into a fourth season with full thrusters. The move didn’t jeopardize their mission.
Tags: Leonard, Sheldon, Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory