Monday, September 14, 2015

TV Show Review: The Big Bang Theory - Season 8

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: More laughs with characters we love
Cons: Actually, they don’t head to any cons this year
The Bottom Line:
As characters grow
We continue to laugh with
These great episodes

“Are They Making Fun of Us?”  “Yep.”  “I Miss the Old Days When I Couldn’t Tell.”

At some point, all shows go through a slump.  It’s almost impossible to keep the quality of the laughs up year and year no matter how great the team is behind the show.  Honestly, I’m still waiting for that to happen with The Big Bang Theory.  Here we are at season 8, and I’m still loving it.

For those who have missed the show, it centers on a bunch of physicist.  Leading the pack are roommates Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parons) who are friends with Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard (Simon Helberg), Howard being the only engineer of the core group.  The series started when Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) moved in across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon.  Things have changed, and now Leonard and Penny are engaged, although they still have the same living arrangements.  Over the years, Howard has married Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Sheldon has started dating Amy (Mayim Bailik).  Even Raj has a steady girlfriend this year in the form of recurring character Emily (Laura Spencer).

At the end of season seven, Sheldon’s reaction to changes in his life lead him to leave town on a cross country train trip.  As the season opens, he calls requesting to be picked up.  Why?  He’s been robbed.  That brings him back to the character’s home base of Pasadena, California, but he has to start processing the changes in his life.  One of those changes finds him teaching a class at CalTech for the first time.  The catch?  His only student is Howard.  Howard, meanwhile, has to find a way to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game.  Penny leaves behind her dream of acting for a job working pharmaceutical sales at the same company where Bernadette works, although the door might not quite be closed on acting.  Raj has to deal with the fall out of his parent’s divorce.  The ladies spend an evening uncovering each other’s shameful secrets.  And the entire gang puts on a prom on their roof with hilarious results.  And we got more of Stuart (Kevin Sussman), the owner of the local comic book store, who was living with Howard’s mother while his store was rebuilt, much to Howard’s dismay.

The season took a bit of a somber note when actress Carol Ann Susi died in November.  While never seen, she had provided the off screen voice of Howard’s mother since the start of the show.  As a result, the writers killed off her character mid-season, providing some well done more somber moments.  It also provided some great storylines late in the season as Howard and Bernadette started working on moving into her home.  I especially loved a ping pong battle episode.

The show’s detractors complain that, while it started out as a love letter to geeks, it has now evolved into a show about the characters and their relationships with their significant others.  They do have a valid point.  If you go back and watch the early episodes, the subject matter is often different.

But here’s the thing – I don’t care.  And why not?  Because I’m still laughing.  The jokes are just as funny.  Even if I see them coming, I still can’t help but laugh as the characters deliver the lines.

And here’s another reason it is a good thing.  Humans grow and change.  The best characters, the ones I love the most, grow and change as well.  If the show tried to stay to the same with the same characters and relationships they had in the first few years, I would be bored with it by now.  Instead, it’s a show I look forward to watching every Thursday night and the only show I have my DVR record the reruns for.  That’s right, I laugh just as hard at the reruns as I do the first airings of the show, and I never miss a chance to watch the reruns.

Despite the changes, there are still plenty of jokes at geek culture and geeky things.  After all, they built an entire episode around Leonard and Sheldon trying to visit Skywalker Ranch.  The ladies know more than they are willing to admit about the things their men love.  It’s a fun show with a fun dynamic.

And the acting continues to be great.  All the main actors know their characters by this point, and their portrayals are perfect.  The recurring characters are fantastic as well and Laura Spencer’s Emily fits right in as well.  Honestly, I wish we’d see more of her.

This season consisted of 24 episodes, which are all included here in their wide screen and full surround.  Extras include a salute to the fans, highlights from the 2014 ComicCon panel, a tribute to Carol Ann Susi, and a gag reel.

So if you need to laugh, I highly recommend The Big Bang Theory's eighth season.  These episodes will fly by all too quickly, and you’ll be left wanting to know what happens to everyone’s favorite geeks next.

Season 8 Episodes:
1. The Locomotion Interruption
2. The Junior Professor Solution
3. The First Pitch Insufficiency
4. The Hook-up Reverberation
5. The Focus Attenuation
6. The Expedition Approximation
7. The Misinterpretation Agitation
8. The Prom Equivalency
9. The Septum Deviation
10. The Champagne Reflection
11. The Clean Room Infiltration
12. The Space Prove Disintegration
13. The Anxiety Optimization
14. The Troll Manifestation
15. The Comic Book Store Regeneration
16. The Intimacy Acceleration
17. The Colonization Application
18. The Leftover Thermalization
19. The Skywalker Incursion
20. The Fortification Implementation
21. The Communication Deterioration
22. The Graduation Transmission
23. The Maternal Combustion
24. The Commitment Determination

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