Big Bang Theory Premiere Falls Flat
The new fall sitcom season (at least as far as I and a whole lot of people are concerned) kicked off last night with the self-proclaimed #1 TV comedy, ‘Big Bang Theory’ premiering on CBS. The nerd kings of laughter have been losing some of their luster as of late (which I’ve spoken about many times before), with the addition of their queens (both nerdy and norm-core). The season premiere promised the Leonard and Penny wedding we’ve known was coming for four long years, and delivered every bit the stale, one off comedic bits the series has become. I can’t say I was excited to see the festivities, with a skyped eloping standing as an anti-climactic comparison to the big gay wedding that ended Modern Family’s fifth season a year and a half ago.
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting remains one of the foremost talents on the show, but as long as she’s paired with Johnny Galecki there’s only so much she can do. Not to take away from Galecki as a performer, it’s the Leonard character that has no more room to grow. He can’t go full nerd, but just can’t help himself but ignore the piss out of Penny (and consequently all of us) because, bless his little nerd heart, he just doesn’t understand women. Sound familiar? Because that’s been Leonard’s arc since season freaking one.
Jim Parsons delivered what was probably the best one liner of the episode during a phone call with returning guest star Laurie Metcalf (Sheldon’s mother): “I’m done with women, like when I swore off pop rocks, they both hurt you on purpose.” Sheldon’s arc this season should be interesting, although I was honestly hoping he’d embrace a bit more heavily the dark golem side of the character we saw at the tail end of last season.
Sheldon and Penny are still the emotional cornerstones of the series, and when they finally share the screen together it reminds us why we’re still in on ‘The Big Bang Theory’, it was short and sweet and, at least, left us moderately curious as to what comes next. Still, it’ll be pretty hard to think back on this episode and be able to separate it from the dozens before or after it.
Can Life In Pieces Stay Alive?
A pilot I think the whole world was looking forward to, ‘Life in Pieces’ debuted immediately following ‘Big Bang Theory’, and was easily CBS’s attempt at the new ‘Modern Family’ (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it). The episode is told in four stories, with, predictably, the fourth story a dovetail composite of the first three. While the cast is no “Dunphey Pritchet clan”, there are enough big names to insure at least one of the arcs delivers each and every week.
One Story: Thomas Sadoski starts things off as Matt, although Jordan Peele completely stole his scene as the live-in ex-fiance of Matt’s date from hell. Sadoski plays the “everyman” well, he always has, and if the showrunners are smart they’ll have him stretch his wings once or twice over the course of the season. If there’s an actor who’ll be able to tug the heartstrings of a brand new audience, it’s him.
Two Story: From the First story we jump right into Zoe Lister Jones and Colin Hanks in the delivery room. This was very exciting, since the pair hold the heaviest comedic chops of the series, and the fact that they’ll be paired together more often than not bids well for the show life of ‘Life in Pieces’. They got a little wacky, sure, with a fairly edgy “insertion bit”, but the banter between the couple will be ‘New Girl’-esque in its quick nuanced nature.
Three Story: Three stories in, no idea how they’re connected. Was Modern Family this confusing? Dan Bakkedahl is the funniest part of the episode when he comes onto the seen, and continues to deliver throughout his arc. The sandwich payoff, however, at the end of the story, is predictable and lame. Maybe I’m just not feeling sitcoms this season? Or maybe pilots are never a great way to judge a sitcom?
Fourth story: We finally get the full picture of how these people are actually related, as the adults from the first three stories turn out to be the three children of the grandparents (surprise!). Grandparents played by James Brolin and Dianne Wiest, get to shine a little bit more from the bit roles they played in the first story. Grandpa decides to host his own funeral for his 70th birthday, it backfires, then he climbs into the coffin for the tag ending. Nothing particularly witty or memorable, the adult generation each gets one or two one off lines, this episode really was just a role call to introduce the cast, and it’ll take 7 or 8 episodes for the series to really find it’s voice.
Here’s hoping the network doesn’t cancel it before it gets a chance.