Monday, September 12, 2016

TV on DVD Review: The Big Bang Theory - Season 9

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Lots of laughs with lovable characters
Cons: Season opener, Emily late in the season
The Bottom Line:
Characters still grow
With laughs still coming full force
Big Bang comedy

“I’m Sorry, I Was Waiting for the Bazinga.”

At some point when a show has been on the air a long time, you expect it to start losing some of its charm.  Yet I find that I’m still absolutely loving The Big Bang Theory, which has now been on the air for nine seasons.  The show may have changed focus a bit, but the laughs are still very strong.

Season 9 picks up right after the season 8 cliffhanger, which isn’t a big surprise with how it ended.  Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) are on their way to Vegas to get married.  However, in the car, Leonard has confessed to drunk kissing someone else a couple of years ago.  Meanwhile, the rest of the gang is gathering back at Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette’s (Melissa Tauch) house to watch the wedding on line.  Only things are a bit awkward thanks to Sheldon (Jim Parsons), who is making a big deal out of the fact that Amy (Mayim Bialik) has just broken up with him.

Yes, Leonard and Penny do get married, and they settle into a life of domestic bliss living part time in Penny’s apartment and part time across the hall in the apartment that Leonard has shared with Sheldon.  Meanwhile, Amy starts dating another guy while Sheldon tries to deal with the fact that Amy broke up with him.  Raj continues to date Emily (recurring guest star Laura Spencer) until he gets caught between two women.  And before the season is over, Bernadette has a major announcement and we get to meet Sheldon’s Meemaw (guest star June Squibb) and Leonard’s father (guest star Judd Hirsch).

Now, before we move on to the season as a whole, let’s discuss the season premier.  Yes, I often find the season premieres of this show to be the weakest of the season, but this one was the worst.  We’ve waited how long for Leonard and Penny to get married?  And they elope with the rest of the gang not rushing to join them?  And they are semi-fighting when they do it?  I’m sorry, but that isn’t the wedding I was waiting for.  I’m hoping the writers are setting things up to get it right near the beginning of season 10.  I didn’t like the Leonard kissed someone else story when they introduced it at the end of season 8, and I didn’t like it any better in season 9.  However, they got rid of it in just a couple of episodes and then we could move on to the rest of the season’s laughs.

And there are still plenty of great laughs to be had here.  As I said in the first paragraph, the focus has shifted a bit from the nerd culture to the various characters and their relationships, but I still find the show funny, laughing multiple times each episode.  And the show still slips in those geek moments when you least expect them, producing absolutely fabulous laughs in the process.

The writers have done a good job of keeping the jokes fresh.  Yes, we are still laughing at some of the same material, like Leonard’s allergies or Sheldon being Sheldon, but they aren’t the same jokes recycled.  Instead, the jokes have evolved with the characters.

And in case you missed the news, the show did a monumental episode for the release of the new Star Wars movie.  It is easily a highlight of the season.

The cast knows their characters at this point, and they settle into them with ease.  I’ve always found the acting here great, and it continues this season.  From everything I’ve read and seen, the cast loves working together, and it shows.  No matter the group of characters in a scene, the chemistry between them is fantastic.

Early in the season, they made Emily a featured recurring character, much like they did to Stuart (Kevin Sussman) several seasons ago.  Frankly, I’m wondering why since the writers didn’t seem to know what to do with her after that.  Most of the time when she was in an episode, she only had a few very brief scenes.  I love her character, so that disappointed me, although I still found her episodes pretty funny.

The season consisted of 24 episodes, and they are all here in wide screen and full surround.  We get several featurettes in the way of extras, including one on the 200th episode of the show.  There’s also a gag reel and the comic con panel from 2015.

Comedies I enjoy are rare on TV these days, so for one to still be this strong after nine years is a testament to a great team working hard for our enjoyment.  Season 9 of The Big Bang Theory was still laugh out loud funny, and I’m looking forward to what is next for this gang.

Season 9 Episodes:
1. The Matrimonial Momentum
2. The Separation Oscilation
3. The Bachelor Party Corrosion
4. The 2003 Approximation
5. The Perspiration Implementation
6. The Helium Insufficiency
7. The Spock Resonance
8. The Mystery Date Observation
9. The Platonic Permutation
10. The Earworm Reverberation
11. The Opening Night Excitation
12. The Sales Call Sublimation
13. The Empathy Optimization
14. The Meemaw Materialization
15. The Valentino Submergence
16. The Positive Negative Reaction
17. The Celebration Experimentation
18. The Application Deterioration
19. The Solder Excursion Diversion
20. The Big Bear Precipitation
21. The Viewing Party Combustion
22. The Fermentation Bifurcation
23. The Line Substitution Solution
24. The Convergence Convergence

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