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THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)
(Mondays at 8:00/7:00c beginning tonight)
The network's description: "After her first date with Leonard goes awry, Penny finds an unwilling confidant in Leonard's anti-social roommate, Sheldon, on the second season premiere of THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Sept. 22 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network."
What did they leave out? Sara Gilbert (Leslie Winkle) has been upped to series regular however she doesn't turn up until episode two of this season.
The plot in a nutshell: Picking up shortly after their first date, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) mistakenly thinks things went well with next door neighbor Penny (Kaley Cuoco) - "Everything went fine [digs in his pocket for some cards], I didn't even have to refer to my impromptu conversation starters," he boasts. Leonard's friends Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) - aided by their surveillance camera - however paint him a different story, namely the fact Penny noted she wanted to slow things down and was rather ambiguous about when they'd get together again. It's not until Penny approaches Sheldon (Jim Parsons, much to his chagrin) that we get the real verdict - she's actually the one who's concerned about how things went as she ended up lying about the fact she finished college out of fear of being judged by Leonard. It's a secret that Sheldon, despite being bound by oath, finds himself physically incapable of protecting ("When I try to deceive, I myself have more nervous ticks than a Lyme disease research facility," he notes). And so rather than face said prospect, Sheldon opts to move out and relocate his craziness to Koothrappali, who passes him off to Wolowitz, who well... you can see where the tracks are leading.
What works: You'd be hard pressed to find a show that better understands the mechanics of multi-camera comedy (situation, series of beats, then blow) than this show. Even with its somewhat one-joke premise (two nerds are befuddled by a hot girl), "Big Bang" never seems at a loss of a way to find laughs. Whether its self-deprecation by Wolowitz ("The littlest things can set women off, like, 'Hey, the waitress is hot - I bet we could get her to come home with us' or 'How much does your mom weight? I want to know what I'm getting myself into.") and Koothrappali ("They also don't care for it when you stare at them and hyperventilate. Sadly, that's my home run swing."); the judgmental sarcasm of Sheldon ("You thought the opposite of [feeling like a] stupid loser was community college graduate?"); or the gang's overall fastidiousness (watch the look on Sheldon's face after Penny tries to help fold his socks), you'd be hard pressed to find much dead air. And even if those fail there's always the old standbys like having Sheldon debate whether he's more likely to become Batman or Green Lantern; or rank his favorite X-Men or favorite actresses who played Catwoman in order.
What doesn't: Considering you can count the number of multi-camera shows on the air with one hand...
The bottom line: ...it's nice that one of those fingers is devoted to "The Big Bang Theory."