Pros:Still major laughs with endearing characters
Cons:For some, the cast additions; too many sexually oriented jokes
The Bottom Line: The new cast memebers
Just expand the laughs. Can't stop
Laughing at this show
At some point in the life of a sitcom, the writers usually try to expand the world of the show in some meaningful way. After all, there are only so many stories you can tell with the initial group of characters and initial set up. The writers of The Big Bang Theory expanded things in a big way for season four. Some people haven't felt the results worked, but I think they are great.
Recommend this product?
Yes, the original main cast are still in place, and their basic relationships haven't changed too much. Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) are roommates as well as co-workers at Cal Tech. The circle of friends includes Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) who also happen to be co-workers. Across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon's apartment is Penny (Kaley Cuoco), a wannabe actress who works at The Cheesecake Factory. She also happens to be Leonard's ex.
The writers introduced two female characters to the regular cast this year, although both did show up in season three. Melissa Rauch returns as Howard's girlfriend Bernadette. And Mayim Bialik, who appeared in the final few moments of season three, is back as Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon's not girlfriend but friend who is a girl. Since both either have doctorates or are going for doctorates, that still leaves Penny as the only non-super smart person of the cast. However, everyone has trouble relating to us mere mortals, and that's where Penny really shines. Her heart comes through in every moment she is on screen. That's why I really noticed her absence for the couple episodes she was out after an accident on her horse.
Over the course of the season, Sheldon breaks up with Amy Farrah Fowler over scientific differences and buys a bunch of cats to ease his loneliness. Howard's past mistake comes out when the FBI investigate him for a security clearance. The guys enter a New Year's Eve costume complex with some surprising additions to their group. Leonard's idea for a smartphone app gets out of hand when Sheldon gets involved. Raj begins to have feelings for Bernadette while Leonard starts seeing Raj's sister Priya (Aartia Mann). Everyone winds up at an out of town science convention where friendships get tested. And in one of my favorites, Amy Farrah Fowler and Sheldon decide to experiment with gossip by starting rumors and seeing how long it takes the entire group to find out.
Of course, with this show, some of the sub-plots can be just as great as the main plot. I'm especially fond of one involving Howard performing a magic trick that Sheldon can't figure out. Another memorable one involves Sheldon and his new three person chess game.
The biggest reaction I've heard to the additions to the cast this year is to the character of Amy Farrah Fowler. In many ways, she is a female Sheldon. While I'm sure we're supposed to be rooting for them to get together, I could care less about that aspect of their relationship. I can see the criticism since at times she really does seem to be nothing but a Sheldon clone with no personality of her own. But watching the two of them interact is pretty funny, and their scenes provide some of the best laughs of the season. Meanwhile, Melissa Rauch's Bernadette mixes Penny's heart with everyone else's book knowledge and really adds to the cast. This change also seems to mean that Penny is often involved in scenes with Amy and Bernadette and spends less time with the guys. I hope they mix things up a bit more in coming seasons because I do miss that dynamic.
The new additions haven't dampened the acting at all. The original cast knows their characters and invests everything they have in bringing them to life every week. Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik slip into the cast seamlessly and feel like they've been playing these characters just as long. Jim Parsons went into this season having just won a well-deserved Emmy for Lead Actor in a Comedy, and his work is just as impressive here.
Of course, the fact that the cast can get through this stuff without cracking each other up is an impressive acting feat all by itself. I usually find myself laughing uncontrollably at these episodes the first time around. This is the only show I have my DVR set to record reruns as well as original episodes, and I laugh almost as hard the second time around.
Unfortunately, this sitcom falls into the trap every other sitcom on the air falls into, it goes for the sexual reference or double meaning as often as it can. It's a shame because this show can be just as funny and clean when it wants to be.
Season four consisted of 24 episodes, and all of them are in this set in widescreen picture and full surround sound. The extras include the actors interviewing each other about working on the show, and The Barenaked Ladies' music video of the theme song plus a behind the scenes look at the filming of that video. And you get the standard gag reel as well.
That complaint aside, this is still a show well worth watching if you want to laugh. Whether you jump in here or start at the beginning, you'll be laughing at season four of The Big Bang Theory before you know it.
Season 4 Episodes:
1. The Robotic Manipulation
2. The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification
3. The Zazzy Substitution
4. The Hot Troll Deviation
5. The Desperation Emanation
6. The Irish Pub Formulation
7. The Apology Insufficiency
8. The 21-Second Excitation
9. The Boyfriend Complexity
10. The Alien Parasite Hypothesis
11. The Justice League Recombination
12. The Bus Pants Utilization
13. The Love Car Displacement
14. The Thespian Catalyst
15. The Benefactor Factor
16. The Cohabitation Formulation
17. The Toast Derivation
18. The Prestidigitation Approximation
19. The Zarnecki Incursion
20. The Herb Garden Germination
21. The Agreement Dissection
22. The Wildebeest Implementation
23. The Engagement Reaction
24. The Roommate Transmogrification
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