On TV: Review of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Season 8 premier

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The Big Bang Theory” | Season 8, Episodes 1 and 2: “The Locomotion Interruption” and “The Junior Professor Solution” | Date: Sept. 21, 2014


The comedy website Cracked spewed some vitriol on “The Big Bang Theory,” with the critic call the popular situation comedy “a goddamned terrible show.”

That seems a harsh and ill-considered. Certainly the troubled nerds and their beautiful women meme is well-worn into its eighth season. But Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper is one of the great television characters of the 21st century.

When last we saw Sheldon, he was overwhelmed by all the change in his life. He decided to take a train trip to clear his head. We see him in a train station, no pants and one shoe, the victim of a robbery. He babbles incoherently about various scientific theories until he finally calls Leonard (Johnny Galecki) from a police station.

Watching Parsons vamp is a pleasure, even if the other plotlines in the season’s first two episode are rather placid. Long-mocked Howard (Simon Helberg) decided to take a physics course from Sheldon to work toward his TV. They fight about who is smarter.

Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) helps Penny (Kaley Cuoco) get a job as a pharmaceutical representative. Bernadette is put off by Penny’s apparent laziness. Penny is annoyed by Bernadette’s bossyness. Both women confide in Amy (Mayim Bialik), who is delighted to play  her friends anxieties off one another simply for the attention.

“The Big Bang Theory” is the highest-rated show on television. Is it the best? No. But it is enjoyable, largely on the strength of Parsons’ work. It’s also not the worst show on TV. It’s entertaining, which is all that we can ask from a sitcom and much more than most deliver.

On TV: Remembering Joan Rivers on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Mister Rogers

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We seem to be saying goodbye to a lot of beloved stars these days. Joan Rivers died today. She was 81. When I was a boy, I sometimes stayed up late to watch Johnny Carson and David Letterman in the summers. I remember this very special, warm interview between Joan and Mister Rogers fondly. The clip is a wonderful juxtaposition. Rivers was a very funny comedian, if sometimes raunchy, wild and mean. But across from the gentle earnestness of Mister Rogers, her stage persona melts away to a friendly woman who fondly remembers her daughter growing up watching Mister Rogers. I fondly remember both of these fine entertainers who brought a lot of joy and smiles into my life in very different ways.

On TV: David Letterman pays tribute to Robin Williams

David Letterman downplays his contribution to late night television. He was not as cool as Johnny Carson, people say. And that’s probably true. Still, Dave, now in his final year, remains funny and relevant. He speaks from the heart with a decency that is all too absent in these times. Here is his kind tribute to his longtime friend Robin Williams.