Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Second Season

Written by Pirata Hermosa

The second season of the critically acclaimed comedy created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady about four nerdy geniuses and the beautiful girl next door has been released to DVD just days before season three premieres.

From the very first episode you can see that this season contains a lot more character development and interaction as Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) go out on their very first and last date. During the first season, a lot of emphasis was put on the possible romance between them, so it was a little strange that they threw the two together so quickly just to rip them apart in the very next episode. Even stranger is that the show is much better off with them separated but continues to have awkward moments when they make references about the time they were dating yet it was only one date.

While Johnny and Penny were the main two characters during season one, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) completely steals the show. The more you get to know about his idiosyncrasies and phobias the more the show begins to revolve around him. In order for the rest of his friends to function, Sheldon must first be appeased. In many shows this could make for an annoying character, but while he may be annoying to his friends, the audience finds him incredibly likeable and entertaining. He approaches everything with such sincere innocence and with complete honesty that you can’t help but like him.

More time is also spent on the characters of Howard (Simon Helberg) and Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar). We meet their parents and see that they actually have homes and don’t just sit around Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment all day. Rajesh finally gets some recognition by People magazine and we get to see how much he can talk and hit on women when he’s drunk. Even Howard becomes a little less sleazy (for a moment) and can actually have his feelings hurt, which was an unknown possibility up until now.

Every episode is filled with some of the best comedy writing currently on television, so choosing the best ones out of the season is pretty tough. Three episodes that particularly standout are:

“The Barbarian Sublimation”: Penny is feeling depressed after a bad breakup. Her life isn’t what she thought it would be, so she channels all her energy into The Age of Conan, an MMORPG that takes over her life. A kind of role reversal, as the four guys have to talk her out of doing something that they usually do.

“The Lizard-Spock Expansion”: Sheldon comes up with a new way to play "Rock, Paper, Scissors" by adding two more possibilities, lizard and Spock. But the fun and games are halted when Howard calls for help. It seems that he has managed to get the Mars rover stuck in a ditch.

“The Terminator Coupling”: While on the way to a symposium by train, the four men find that actress Summer Glau is aboard. Three of them compete for her affections, while Sheldon tries to get Penny to find a flash drive with a research paper that he forgot back at the apartment so he can present it to Dr. George Smoot who is a Nobel Laureate for his work on the actual Big Bang Theory.

The DVD contains three special features.

The Big Bang Theory: Physicist to the Stars – UCLA Professor David Saltzberg, who is the creative consultant on the show, explains how he got involved and what he does to add real physics into the storyline. The cast and creators also weigh in on his contributions.

Testing the Infinite Hilarity Hypothesis in Relation to the Big Bang Theory – This is really well done and gives you not only an overview of the characters and how they have grown, but also gives a nice recap of the season.

Gag Reel - The gag reel is a little longer than on most DVDs. It starts off fairly bland and is pretty much the same thing that’s been done before, but about halfway through it starts to pick up the pace and by the end will have you laughing out loud.


Written by Hombre Divertido

In 1987 Patrick Dempsey plays a curly brown-haired, nerdy outcast, high school student by the name of Ronald who pays the head cheerleader to date him, in hopes of becoming popular, in the classic ‘80s teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love.

Thirteen years earlier, an eerily similar looking Scott Jacoby plays Bad Ronald, a curly brown-haired, nerdy outcast, high school student, who accidentally kills a young girl who is mocking him. At the insistence of his mother, Ronald takes refuge in a secret room in the house to avoid authorities, in this made-for-television classic. After his mother leaves home for an operation and dies, Ronald continues to live in his secret room as the house is sold and a new family, with three young daughters, moves in.

Generally considered intense for a television movie in 1974, Bad Ronald is still fun, but quite tame by today’s standards. The main problems with the movie are that it is hard to tell this story in only 71 minutes, thus there is little character development, and the story comes to a conclusion too quickly and conveniently.

More importantly, Bad Ronald is really not that bad. He accidentally kills a young girl, at the beginning of the film, and then follows that up with bad decisions by both he and his mother. The seclusion eventually impacts him negatively, but he is primarily just a Peeping Tom until the nosy neighbor slips and falls after seeing Ronald, so he drags her under the house. As things get more desperate, he attacks a boyfriend of the one of the girls, but does not kill him. The film contains little or no blood or graphic violence.

The performances and overall tone are campy, and Jacoby fails to create any intensity with his portrayal of Ronald. Kim Hunter is creepy as the mother who is somewhat off and it’s fun to see a young Dabney Coleman as the father of the family that moves into Ronald’s house, but his performance is one-dimensional. The movie still looks good after all these years, though certain scenes are reminiscent of an ABC After School Special.

Bad Ronald is part of Warner Brothers Archive Collection and is available at their website. The release contains no bonus material.

Recommendation: If you enjoyed this film in the seventies, it is fun to revisit, but may not be as scary as you remember. If you are not familiar with Bad Ronald, and are looking for some fun family fare for a rainy Saturday night, grab some popcorn, and enjoy some made-for-television camp.