I find I have been watching less and less television as time goes by. Not entirely sure why that is, but it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I perceive the majority of television these days to be time-wasting garbage. Note that I mentioned that it is what I perceive to be the case. I make a decision that my time is better spent doing almost anything else than watching the pseudo-reality product-placement craptaculars that pass for popular television these days. But what do I know? While I think that something like MasterChef is nothing more than a glorified advertorial spiced up with faux-drama about who will go and who will stay (a staple of the glorified cruelty-based talent show), it is undoubtedly popular and is making somebody some serious wedge.
Not that the so-called reality television genre is the sole dune in the Tatooine of 2010 television. Drama and comedy seem to elude my interest. How many times can the Law & Order franchise go back to the well. And what the hell is the appeal of something like Scrubs (I can't even bring myself to link to that)? I don't get it. And as much as I like Hugh Laurie, I don't get House. And as a grumpy misanthrope, you might think I could perhaps relate?
But one of the problems with not watching television much is that you do miss some of the programs you might be interested in. I didn't know about Firefly until it had been shown, cancelled and brought out on DVD. A similar thing is true of The Big Bang Theory, which is the subject of this post. I bet you're glad I finally got to the point. But the show is in its fourth season, and I've only just discovered it, so to speak.
I know - big surprise. I like SciFi (the genre, not necessarily the Pay TV channel - seriously how in the name of all that is holy can Medium be a SciFi show), work with computer networks and have my own neurotic problems. In addition, it could be depressingly argued that I identify with specific aspects of at least three of the four male characters (I totally disavow any similarities to Howard) and that is why I like the show. I don't like breaking my routine (Sheldon), I am uncomfortable around women (Raj), and am endlessly insecure about most aspects of my life (Leonard)*. I am going to move on now before I get too maudlin and start batting on about loneliness and misery...
All of that could be taken as read, but when you break it down, the show is a pretty typical sitcom, with the type of character dynamics which are easily recognizable if you take the specific situation out of the equation. So why do I like it, and having found it downloaded the whole three completed season and watched them as my evening viewing straight through for a couple of weeks? Two reasons.
Firstly, the characters are great. I don't know much about acting, direction or writing, but I really enjoy the character portrayals. It could be argued that the characters are simply extrapolations of the stereotypical nerd portrayals that have been around for years. I don't necessarily agree. However, I do believe that the casting was spot-on and I really do like the specific portrayals by all of the actors in the cast.
Second, the science. I like watching the show, listening to a back-and-forth about a scientific discussion and either thinking, "yes, I know about that" and then further thinking how cool it is that I know that (for a given value of cool). Alternatively, something comes up that I don't know about and that then leads me to spend inordinate amounts of time looking up stuff on the Internet and following where the trail leads.
To that end, the Bad Astronomy Blog** had a link today to a blog where one of the science advisors to the show describes the science used in each show. Check it out. It is awesome.
Oh, and there is a third reason I like the show. It makes me laugh. Not much does that for me any more. I didn't need to do any of the analysis leading up to this revelation. It is enough that it makes me laugh.
Thank you Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre.
* I am putting in a short moratorium on links right now - just previewed the post and it is probably getting tedious.
** Moratorium Off.