Created by: Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady
Starring: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg
At the end of season one Leonard and Penny were finally going on their first real date, resolving a whole season of sexual tension and providing a cliffhanger ending. Now the second season is out on DVD so we can finally see how the date went. Did Leonard crash and burn or did he and Penny hit it off.
In case your not familiar with the show here’s a quick introduction to the cast. First there is Leonard, Johnny Galeki, a physicist working at Cal Tech living Hollywood’s idea of the near perfect geek lifestyle. That is until Penny moves in across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment. Penny’s arrival awakens in Leonard a longing for something he didn’t realize he was missing, namely a relationship with Penny. Then there is Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, a former child prodigy with two Ph d’s and a Masters who rooms and works with Leonard at Cal Tech. His intelligence and total lack of empathy fuel his arrogance and narcissism, but as cruel as he is sometimes it stems from his ignorance of social norms not any actual innate meanness. That brings us to Rajesh, played by Kunal Nayyar, an astronomer and coworker of Leonard and Sheldon who has a pathological inability to speak with beautiful women unless he’s drunk. Rounding out the geek posse is Howard, Simon Helberg. Howard is a little guy with a big confidence problem. He’s got way to much. It doesn’t seem to make a difference that he can hit on women in six different languages he’s always getting shot down. Finally there is Penny played masterfully by Kaley Cuoco. Penny is a sweet Midwestern girl who has moved out to California to become a movie star only to end up working at The Cheesecake Factory.
Season one starts out with Penny moving in across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon. Leonard basically falls in love at first sight. During the season Penny becomes an honorary member of the gang and a genuine friendship develops between Leonard and Penny. The last show of the first season ends with Penny and Leonard actually going out on their first real date. A previous dinner they had doesn’t count because Penny wasn’t aware that it was supposed to be a date. Season two picks up at the end of the date as Leonard is walking Penny back towards her apartment. Luckily for us the date ends with a peck on the cheek. It’s hard to imagine the show being half as good if they were an actual couple. Their game of cat and mouse is much more entertaining. Much of the first seasons humor arose from the sexual tension between the two, this season it’s more character based and comes from their growing mostly platonic relationship. Not to say there’s not any heat between the two, there is still that little spark that waxes and wanes through the season. Where the first season ends on a cliffhanger the second season ends more with a sweet confirmation that what Penny and Leonard have is truly special. Whether it will eventually blossom into a romantic relationship we will just have to wait and see.
While the spiritual center of the show is the relationship between Leonard and Penny that doesn’t mean the other characters get shortchanged, they all have their individual moments to shine. Rajesh gets a write up in People magazine and nearly picks up Summer Glau. Howard gets a girlfriend and his zero-g toilet is installed on the International Space Station. Sheldon gets his learners permit and is offered a chance to go on an Arctic expedition. Unlike Leonard and Penny though their characters stay rather static. Howard is just as annoying, Rajesh still needs to get drunk to talk to beautiful women and Sheldon is still driving everyone mad. Speaking of Sheldon one of the joys of the first season was the way Penny and Sheldon went round and round, even though they are technically now friends this often just means that they know which buttons to push to set each other off. One of the more entertaining episodes is when they basically declare war on each other. Everybody gets at least an episode or two to shine.
The acting is great the writing is good, the direction is typical sitcom. The show is good enough you don’t really notice that it’s a straight up traditional sitcom complete with laugh track. The first season is good but the second season is even better, there’s even more of it. It’s not good enough to get me to watch it as it airs but when the Season Three DVD’s come out they will be mine.
The wide screen video looks great. The show has a vivid color palette with rich bold colors, but I never noticed any blooming. The blacks are deep and rich, the skin tones look good, especially Kaley Cuoco’s. As a matter of fact I never noticed any compression artifacts or other problems with the video beyond some mild moire and a bit of aliasing on some of Sheldon’s shirts with bold geometric patterns. Shot all on a sound stage the focus is deep which is rewarding because the guy’s apartment and their offices are full of little interesting knick knacks. How many kitchens have an oscilloscope on counter?
The audio is presented in Dolby Stereo in English and Portuguese with subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese and Thai. The mix is good and even with the dialog easy to hear and understand. The laugh track gets noticeable after a while, having it buried in the mix would have been nice. The jokes are good enough that you don’t need prompting to know when your supposed to laugh.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The four DVDs come in single width Amaray case with a cardboard slipcase. I like the fact that they put all four discs in a single width case I’m running out of shelf space as it is. The artwork is a little posed but manages to sum up the show excellently in one image and is carried through to the simple and straightforward menus. There is not a lot of bonus material. Just a couple of featurettes, one consisting of interviews with the creators and the cast and one explaining how they handle all of the science jargon and a gag real. No commentaries, not one.
While I imagine this is about a realistic depiction of young physicists as a police procedural is of real police work, I don’t care. This is a fun show and as the characters grow on you it just becomes more and more entertaining.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 9/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 6/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features5/10
Overall (Not an Average)8/10