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Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season, The

Warner Bros. // Unrated // September 14, 2010
List Price: $54.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted September 22, 2010 | E-mail the Author
The whole universe was in a hot dense state
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started.

The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall
We built the pyramids!
Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries,
That all started with the big bang!
One of the few current sitcoms that I follow, and also the funniest, is The Big Bang Theory.  It's a typical comedy with a cast of characters with amusing idiosyncrasies and goofy friends, but the writing is very smart and the jokes work more often than they don't (not to mention an infectious opening song penned and performed by The Barenaked Ladies).  In this third season the show is still amazingly funny but there are a few shows that miss the mark, something that hadn't really happened in the first two years of the show.  Even so fans will be pleased with the Blu-ray presentation that really bring the show to life.
Dr. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) are roommates who work as physicists at Cal Tech (experimental and theoretical respectively).   They are both brilliant (Leonard has an IQ of 173 and Sheldon was a child prodigy who graduated from college (undergrad) at the age of 14) and so are their friends:  Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) an astrophysicist, and Mr. Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) who only has a masters in engineering from MIT, a fact that Sheldon loves to remind him of.  The show started two years ago when Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moved in across the hall.  She's a friendly would-be actress from Nebraska with a lot of down-home charm, and incredibly attractive.  Leonard's instantly attracted to her, while the Sheldon, who lacks all sexual urges, is irritated by the amount of time it will take to train a new friend.  Penny, on the other hand usually dates hunky guys that she meets at the gym, including her last boyfriend a very muscular ape who she had lived with for four years.  ("That's as long as high school" Penny cries in the first episode.  To which Sheldon incredulously exclaims "It took you four years to finish high school!?!")
At the end of season 2, Leonard, Sheldon, Raj and Howard were leaving for a three month expedition to the North Pole to test one of Sheldon's theories.  Leonard was sad to be leaving Penny behind, though they weren't dating and surprisingly, Penny was upset to be away from Leonard too.
As this season opens the group has just gotten back from the far north and when Leonard knocks on Penny's door to inform her of their return she leaps into his arms and kisses him passionately.  (Howard:  Oh, I knew I should have told her that we were back.  Raj:  Yeah, like it was first come, first serve.)  Turns out Penny really missed Leonard, and they go into her apartment and close the door.
Dating Penny is great for Leonard but there are some bumps in the road, some much bigger than others.  This season another character gets a girl friend too, and that leaves one man out (since Sheldon is asexual.)
While there were some great storylines this season, and some hilarious episodes, in a lot of ways this feels like the premier season of a show rather than the third.  By this time the writers are usually comfortable with the whole situation, having figured out what type of story works and how the characters should act.  That's not really the case with this set of shows.  They start plot lines and then suddenly drop them, and they have characters doing things that just don't feel right.  An example of the latter is when Sheldon hits a roadblock in his research; he starts acting like a child.  He breaks into a 'Chuck E. Cheese' type of pizza place after hours and plays in the ball pit (he uses the balls to model protons and neutrons) and when Leonard tries to get him out there's a painfully unfunny scene where Sheldon swims through the balls to avoid capture, yelling "Ba-zinga!" over and over. 
That said, I'm still enamored with the characters.  I really like the dichotomy that's been set up:  Sheldon and Leonard (and Raj and Howard) are brilliant scientists who spend their days pushing the boundaries of human knowledge, but also fanboys who spend their nights playing Halo and looking forward to Wednesdays:  new comic day.
This season also see the introduction of Sheldon's arch nemesis.  Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek:  The Next Generation, appears a couple of times as himself.  The background story as to why Sheldon hates Wheaton is great, but the fact that Wheaton's character in the show is so underhanded and sinister really makes the episodes he's in some of the best of the season.
Jim Parsons has received a lot of accolades for his portrayal of Sheldon, and all of it is deserved.  He and Johnny Galecki are both great in their roles.  The person who really brings the show together and gives the best performance however is Kaley Cuoco.  She has a tough role, playing the straight man most of the time but also having to step up to the mound and toss out some comic lines every so often.  She's excellent in both roles.  She has very good timing, waiting just the right amount of time for maximum effect but also is a genuinely good actress, as is displayed in the few dramatic scenes she has.
The Blu-ray Discs:

The entire 23-episode season comes on two Blu-ray discs which are housed in a single-width case enclosed in a slipcase.
The 1.78:1 1080p widescreen image looks great.  The show was recorded (and broadcast) in HD so it's no surprise that the picture looks good.  The colors are solid and the level of detail is fine.  There's a little bit of digital noise in a few spots, but nothing really major.  Overall the show looks wonderful in HD.
What, no lossless audio track?  The show comes with a DD 5.1 audio mix that sounds good, but I couldn't help wishing for a DTS HD option.  As it is the mix works well, with a full, open front sound stage and sparse but effective use of the rears.  The sub gets moving during the opening song, but that's about the only time it's really used. 
I was a little disappointed that there weren't more bonus items included with the set.  After all this is a highly rated Emmy winning show.  Couldn't they get the cast together for a commentary track?  Oh well, I guess I should be grateful for what was included.  First off is Takeout with the Cast of The Big Bang Theory where the main characters talk about their favorite moments from the season.  There's a set tour with Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg, and a fairly amusing gag reel.  That's it.
Final Thoughts:
While there were a couple of stumbles in this third season, the show is still incredibly funny and it's understandable why this is the top-rated comedy on TV now.  The Blu-ray presentation, while a bit light on the extras and lacking a lossless audio track, is solid making this a highly recommended set.
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Highly Recommended

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