Created by: Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady
Cast: Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Raunch, Aarti Mann, Wil Wheaton
Synopsis: Leonard and Penny are no longer together, but that does not mean the show is by any means coming to a halt in terms of hilarity. New addition to the main cast Amy Farrah Fowler (Bialik) injects a new level of humour, essentially being the female equivalent of Sheldon. This leads to not only more fun with the four main guys, but also introduces a very unique female friendship clique. Things get more interesting yet again with the introduction of Priya (Mann). who is not only Raj’s sister, but also interestingly enough Leonard’s new squeeze.
It has certainly been the case in other sitcoms, at least in my opinion, that if the overall story line has a couple finally get together only to have them subsequently split up (or, as they may phrase it, go on a “break”), that the overall enjoyment of the series diminishes. The exact reason for this I cannot necessarily fathom. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the audience does not have the “will they/won’t they” element to the story to be engaged in any longer.
Yet, somehow The Big Bang Theory successfully avoided this rule of diminishing returns now that Leonard and Penny are no longer an item. Their interaction post break up is played quite naturally, and the writers even manage to mine some moments of great comedy that result as a consequence of their once again changed relationship status. A perfect example of this is Penny trying to reunite with Zach, only to realise that he his way too dumb. Then we even get the shoe on the other foot, with Penny actually becoming jealous of Leonard’s new flame, Priya.
However, tweaks to the overall development of the character relationships do not end there. In many ways, it seems at this stage that the show is subtley adjusting the show so there that are new sources of comedy, without actually going so far as to change the original premise. Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, Howard and Penny remain the core of the show, but with the introduction of first Bernadette last season and now Amy Farrah Fowler and Priya this season introduces new dynamics which expand on what was so good to start with.
Amy is perhaps the best thing to happen to the show in a long time. Originally it could have been just a one note character… a female Sheldon, a concept that if done incorrectly could only have worked for a few episodes and then be forgotten. In Bialik’s hands however, she has become more than a female Sheldon, but in many ways a more socially alert version which acts as an interesting counterpoint to Sheldon’s idiosyncracies. She may be socially awkward among people her own age, but she has a greater awareness than Sheldon of social politics, especially within the workforce.
Even better however, is that the character has been able to evolve external to her interactions with Sheldon. The episode in which she blatantly declares that Penny is her BFF, much to Penny’s surprise is brilliant. Then to observe Penny, Amy, and Bernadette interact in a cohesive friendship group, despite their wildly different personality traits, provides some fantastic belly laughs, and some of the season’s best moments.
Speaking of Bernadette, her relationship with Howard continues to take a number of great twists and turns, especially when Howard’s mother is thrown into the mix. Raj still plays the lone single guy in the group as a result, which is sad, it is true, but given his social hang-ups, far from surprising. Just when his character threatens to become boring however, a twist is thrown in to spice his story up again. First of course, there is the introduction of his sister, and his obvious discomfort toward her relationship with Leonard, which gives great Raj moments for quite a few episodes. Then, to end the season, he gets the best twist of all, making hs loner status all season all the more worth it.
Four seasons in, and no sharks have yet been jumped. Long may this continue!!
4 stars out of 5
Big Bang Theory Season 4 DVD promotion