Movie review: Time to pull the plug on TV’s ‘Big Bang Theory’

bbtTwice before I’ve written on this blog about TV’s sensational comedy “The Big Bang Theory.” My first effort was describing when it “jumped the shark” – that is, went past the point of being TV’s best to being TV crap. Well, the start of this past season – the show’s 10th – got off to a decent start with the first episode (my second writing in hopes things would improve), but has since fallen to disgraceful and irritating levels that a show of its quality should never offer to an audience. However, with this week’s online story that the top actors were offering to take a pay cut to help pay two supporting actors more money and keep “The Big Bang Theory” alive two more seasons, I have to write again. And it’s to say that the show should be allowed a quiet, dignified death – not two more years of subjecting its remaining fans to bad stories, worse acting and a series gone completely stale.

‘The Big Bang Theory’
(2007-present; created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady and starring Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg and Kunal Nyyar)

PLEASE, CHUCK LORRE, PUT ‘BIG BANG’ OUT OF OUR MISERY

A nasty row between creator Chuck Lorre and star Charlie Sheen brought an end to the greatness of TV’s “Two and a Half Men” and Lorre’s choice of the talentless Ashton Kutcher to ride that series into the ground, but now he’s faced with another sensationally popular show having tanked – this time because of fatigued plots, bad writing, one horrible actor and a show so long on a respirator that it should be left to die a dignified death.

(CLICK HERE FOR ALL MY MOVIE REVIEWS)
(Click here for my ‘BBT’ jumps the sharkClick here for my ‘BBT’ season 10 start)

The Big Bang Theory” is the certainly equal of Lorre’s “Two and a Half Men,” albeit as different kinds of comedy (puerile versus cerebral). Further, the two shows both jumped TV’s proverbial shark in their eighth seasons and now “The Big Bang Theory” is going to follow its cousin into being an ongoing trash pile of an unwatchable mess. It’s like seeing a great athlete two years past his or her prime – you remember their best, but that memory is becoming tainted by the second-rate effort you’re seeing today.

After this season’s opener, which featured interesting new characters (including a reprise by a couple of really strong supporting characters), the new episodes have been uninspired an poorly acted – it’s as if the entire cast is mailing it in simply to keep cashing their big paychecks. It’s like the first episode of this season was worth watching and the production company said, “We can’t let this happen again!”

I’m writing this today because I just read a story where the headliners – Johnny “Leonard” Galecki, Kaley “Penny” Cuoco, Jim “Sheldon” Parsons, Simon “Howard” Helberg and Kunal “Raj” Nyyar – said they would take a small pay cut to boost the pay of supporting stars Mayim “Amy” Bialik and Melissa “Bernadette” Rauch and extend the show another two seasons.

Bad idea. Bad. Really bad. Inordinately bad. In fact, simply terrible.

Bottom line? “The Big Bang Theory” has been moribund for a couple of seasons now; it just hasn’t been buried because it prints money.

The Big Bang Theory” no longer has any creativity; its actors are mailing it in nearly as much as the writers; and each episode is so annoying – highlighted by all the baby nonsense – that it is simply impossible to finish any one new episode in one sitting. Finish? I’d say there isn’t any single episode this season outside the first worth WATCHING.

Too bad. The gold standard has turned to fool’s gold.

I won’t criticize the triumvirate of Galecki-Cuoco-Parsons because their body of work is so impressive over the years of the show. Ditto for Helberg and Nyyar, as the same can be said for both, except that Nyyar’s “Raj” has been made the complete fool for a long time with the vapid baby story. However, there is a spilt observation of the other co-lead supporting actors Bialik and Rauch.

Mayim is simply worth twice what they’re paying her. Outside of Parsons, she delivers the most consistently excellent scenes and has simply defined a character from its first moment in front of the audience. I cannot write enough superlatives to define Mayim’s work here. Even as the rest began to mail in their efforts, including Parsons a little bit, Mayim has delivered week-in and week-out. She’s simply a delight and it will be impossible to ever think of her as anyone but “Amy Farrah Fowler.”

Now I come to the actor who has become the worst and most annoying in the cast: Melissa Rauch as “Bernadette Rostendowski Wolowitz.” It wasn’t always so. She did a great job introducing and then developing the character, but all too soon she turned into a shrill, shrewish, fingernails-on-a-blackboard member of the cast and the one you wished had been written out long ago. Even being the worst, she managed to plumb new depths with the character’s pregnancy. Rauch was just terrible as a pregnant “Bernadette” and hasn’t improved any since the baby was born.

The final analysis is that Rauch has gone from being a talented newcomer to doing such bad work that you wonder how she still qualifies for a Screen Actors Guild card.

In the end, the headliners are mailing it in; the mid-level characters are at the mercy of writers turning out dreck; and Mayim’s great work cannot completely make up for Rauch’s shrill, annoying carping.

Whew!

Still, viewers were lucky that three completely horrid characters had short runs earlier in the seasons and no longer disgrace “The Big Bang Theory” …

  • Sara Rue played “Leonard” love interest “Dr. Stephanie Barnett” and is simply the second-worst actor ever to appear in an episode (she has absolutely no acting ability and is still second-worst). In a previous blog post, I called her effort “ghastly.” And that’s the good I can say about Rue as an actor.
  • The worst actor ever to appear on “The Big Bang Theory” is Sara Gilbert (is there something with the name “Sara” that drags up such incompetence on Lorre shows?) and she brought a trailer-trash demeanor to a group of physicists. Gilbert played scientist “Leslie Winkle” and she slept with both “Leonard” and “Howard.” Still, she comes off about as cerebral as chewing tobacco and thankfully you saw very little of her – and I refuse to watch any episode in which she appears.
  • Finally, you had Aarti Mann as “Raj’s” sister “Priya” and love interest to “Leonard.” I don’t believe the character was properly developed or even a good idea, but Mann is head and shoulders above Rue and Gilbert in acting ability (and I’m of course damning with faint praise).

It’s too bad that Rauch couldn’t have been cast early on a reef like the undistinguished trio I just mentioned, but then I wouldn’t have had anything to criticize through the eighth season.

So, Chuck Lorre, bring “The Big Bang Theory” in for a majestic funeral. End this nonsense this season and to hell with all the money you’ll make (along with the actors). It’s simply wrong to continue with the dreck you’re shoveling out now instead of the instant-classic episodes that were a hallmark of “The Big Bang Theory” a few years ago.

Oh, and by the way, it’s not going to be about actors’ pay to keep the show going. Both Bialik and Rauch will accept whatever they’re being paid now. While “The Big Bang Theory” would be hurt with Mayim’s departure, it would only get better not trotting Rauch out any more. Besides, neither actor will ever get paid again in total for what they’re getting now every season.

Please, Chuck, pull the plug now. Another season of “The Big Bang Theory” would be a crime against humanity.

© Chuck Curry and A Gator in Naples, 2017.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without
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