The group of Pasadena-based scientist geeks led by roommates Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) had relied on their neighbor Penny (Kaley Cuoco) for pretty much the only female input in their lives for over three years until last season saw Howard (Simon Helberg) become engaged to Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Sheldon spending more time than ever with his own friend-who-is-a-girl, Amy (Mayim Bialik). Now, exes Leonard and Penny struggle through what exactly is going on between them while Raj (Kunal Nayyar) continually fights against being the lonely one.
Making fun of “nerds”--those people who focus their time and energy on intelligence and not on what most consider normal social pursuits—is a rather popular avenue in comedy. When geeks become the protagonists, they tend to face the ridicule of others and even turn self-deprecating wit toward their fellow geek and themselves. Back in 2007, such a sitcom premiered on CBS which did exactly that, and its latest season is now on Blu-Ray and DVD. The fifth season of The Big Bang Theory hums along on a winning formula of sharp, funny writing and an expertly tuned acting ensemble.
The famous saying that comedy is hard could have easily been coined about the television sitcom. It is so easy for them to turn out formulaic and stale, or to begin quite well but slip into mediocrity as the years go by. Five years in, and The Big Bang Theory cannot be charged with falling prey to either of those problems. Though the characters here were always well-delineated and cleverly mined for their comedic possibilities from the beginning, this fifth season truly shines a spotlight on how the writers have progressed the characters forward while still providing laughs. The piece of comedic genius that is Sheldon Cooper, for example, becomes both more narcissistic and more endearing as the season goes on because of his relationship with Amy.
That brings me to the other delightful treat of this season--the acting. Jim Parsons has won an Emmy for a reason, Johnny Galecki could technically be termed the lead character and he handles that well, and casting Mayim Bialik as Amy was perfect. Though Bernadette and Amy were introduced as love interests for Howard and Sheldon in past seasons, this fifth season saw them as full partners in the ensemble. This means all of these characters were seen at some point in every episode. Frequent laughs are gained from these interactions that manage to feel completely organic as well. Now, the only thing left for the writers to do is ingeniously gift Raj with a love interest! If the fantastic humor and acting of the fifth season is any indication, The Big Bang Theory stands to provide entertainment for many more years.
This is both a Blu-ray and DVD set, comprised of 2 Blu-ray discs and 3 DVDs. The video transfer on the Blu-ray is expectedly excellent. The even lighting and colorful costumes of this show are perfectly suited to the crispness of the 1080p transfer. The only slight disappointment is some shots lacking brightness. (The DVD transfer has the same characteristic, though, so at least it’s not a technical glitch.) Given that and home theater setups, this Blu-ray set may provide better quality than original broadcast for some viewers.
Blu-ray comes equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio track while the DVD sports the usual Dolby Digital 5.1, both in English. It goes without saying the DTS-HD reproduces the sound of the broadcast perfectly. All the dialogue comes through clearly, which is significant for a show with a lot of verbal comedy. You will even catch every word of that tongue-twisting theme song! There is also a Spanish language Dolby 2.0 track available, and optional subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.
The Big Bang Theory @ 100: Ten minutes is a good length for this behind-the-scenes doc focusing on the filming of the 100th episode and the celebration following its completion. Cast and producer interviews add a nice touch, and its great to see the Barenaked Ladies sing their catchy theme song for the show at the party. Fun to watch.
The Big Bang Theory’s Laws of Reflection: The cast sit down for short interviews in this extra, which might be the best one. They clearly all have a love for each other and their characters, and they end with funny comments about what they would be like in space. These seem to be gracious actors, and you get the added bonus of hearing Melissa Rauch without her high voice as Bernadette.
“Professors of Production: The crew behind the show--producers, set and costume designers--talk about what it takes to put together an episode in this extra. It’s interesting to see how the lighting and backdrops are made to approximate reality in the studio and particular attention is paid to the set for Howard’s space shuttle and his rooftop wedding to Bernadette in the season finale. It’s a great bonus feature.
Gag Reel: This is a very funny extra. It is about 8 and a half minutes long and full of the usual line flubs, prop malfunctions, and actor giggling. Great moments are when Galecki reacts to a cell phone going off during filming and when a science prop operates wrong and the cast gives great reaction to it. Definitely worth one viewing at least.
The Big Bang Theory manages to retain the hilarious characters and situations of its writing even in its fifth season while expanding the acting ensemble with style, all with excellent results. By releasing a combination Blu-bay and DVD set with a nice array of special features, Warner Bros. satisfies fans even more. The success of a sitcom so far into its run is no mean feat, and fans can look forward to the upcoming sixth season.