Is The Big Bang Theory the funniest show on network TV? It is to me, and apparently to a whole lot of other people as well. The 2012-2013 season was the show’s sixth, and was the highest-rated sitcom in America. The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Sixth Season has just been released as a three-DVD set from Warner Home Video. It contains all 24 episodes of the season, plus some very cool bonus features.
Season Six picks up right where Season Five left off. In the final episode of the fifth season, Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and his fiancee Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) had gotten married just prior to him going on a mission to the International Space Station. For the first three episodes, Howard communicates via Skype to Bernadette and their friends from the space station.
As anyone who follows the show knows, the lives of the four main characters are quite a bit different than they were in the beginning. A great deal of The Big Bang Theory’s humor comes from the awkwardness of these brilliant twenty-something men in trying to deal with the outside world. This is especially true when it comes to meeting women.
As this season opens, three of the four are in serious relationships. The core of the show has always been the on-again off-again situation between Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco). Things are surprisingly stable between the two of them this season, so much so that Penny is worried. She actually admits to having fallen in love with the nerdy Doctor.
The most unlikely pairing on television right now has to be Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik). Watching these two in action is great fun, and it just keeps getting better. There are sight gags in this show that just kill me, like the one during “The Holographic Excitation.” Despite the title, this is actually the Halloween episode. Amy wants to go to a Halloween party with Sheldon, as Raggedy Ann and Andy. Sheldon wants to go as a couple also, but as C-3PO and R2-D2 from Star Wars. When they arrive, Sheldon is “Raggedy C-3PO.” The compromise has him dressed as the famous golden robot, with bright red Raggedy Andy hair. His line is priceless, “It was a compromise. I lost.” This episode also features a cameo from astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
As indicated, Howard and Bernadette are navigating life as newlyweds. Like all four of the program’s male stars, Howard works at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which is not a particularly high-paying gig. And unlike everyone but Penny, Howard does not have a Doctorate degree. When Bernadette gets her Doctorate she is hired by a pharmaceutical company, “for a buttload of money,” as she puts it. The earning gap creates some problems for the couple, especially when Howard decides to buy a three-dimensional printer to make his own action figures.
Howard’s partner on the 3-D printer is his best friend Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). Raj suffers from selective mutism, which means that he cannot speak to girls, except when he has been drinking. This makes it especially difficult for him to meet women, but he actually does meet one in “The Tangible Affection Proof,” the season’s Valentine’s Day episode. Her name is Lucy (Kate Miccuci), and she is so shy that she often sneaks out of the window of the ladies room when they go out on dates. It is an interesting situation, but things change dramatically between Raj and Lucy in the finale, “The Bon Voyage Reaction.”
The Big Bang Theory has had some notable guest stars over the years, but getting Bob Newhart was a real coup. In “The Proton Resurgence,” Newhart plays Professor Proton, who was sort of a Bill Nye the Science Guy that Sheldon and Leonard watched when they were kids. I have always loved Newhart, and it is just great to see him here. His timing remains as brilliant as ever, and this is one of the best shows of the season.
The guys live in Pasadena, and have had encounters with Wil Wheaton, Levar Burton, and Brent Spiner from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the past. This season, Burton and Wheaton appear in “The Habitation Configuration.” The highest-rated episode not only of the season, but of the entire series was “The Bakersfield Expedition.” In this one, rather than having TNG guest stars, the four guys themselves are dressed up as characters from the classic science-fiction show.
Highest ratings or not, “The Bakersfield Expedition” was an instant classic. They all decide to go to the Bakersfield Comic-Con, in costume of course. Leonard is Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Sheldon is Data, Howard is a Borg, and Raj is Worf. They stop to take some pictures of themselves in the desert, and their car is stolen. Watching them trying to hitchhike out of there dressed up the way they are is as ridiculous as it is hilarious. But they top that great moment when they enter a truckstop diner to call the police. Truly must-see TV.
The DVD extras are fairly substantial, and included on each disc. The first disc contains two segments that are both related to Howard’s excursion to the International Space Station. The Big Bang Theory: The Final Comedy Frontier contains scenes of Howard floating in the Space Station, and explains how this was done. What I didn't know until watching this featurette is that one of the other astronauts who appear in the show is the real-life astronaut Mike Massimino. Buzz Aldrin is interviewed, and there is also footage of him and astronaut Rich Searfoss at Comic Con.
Their appearance was in conjunction with a pretty amazing promotion. At Comic-Con, The Big Bang Theory actually held a raffle with the winner (a girl named Mercedes), being offered the chance to actually train and take a trip to the space station. (11 minutes).
Houston, We Have A Sitcom is kind of special in that the stars of the show surprise astronaut Joe Acaba who was on the ISS, with a “visit” via Skype. He is a big fan of The Big Bang Theory, so this was a treat for him, but it becomes a treat for all of us when he pulls back and shows us his view of Earth from the station. Mike Massimo is also on hand for this segment. (10 minutes).
Disc two features a panel discussion and Q & A session done at Paley Fest 2013. The event is hosted by Pauley Perrette, and features Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik, and Melissa Rauch, plus executive producers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, and show runner Steven Molaro. One of the funnier questions was asked of Jim Parsons, about the spanking Sheldon gave to Amy after she had tricked him in “The Fish Guts Displacement” episode. It was originally to be done off-camera, but the decision was made at the last minute to do it on camera, and Parsons could not stop laughing. Hearing Melissa Rauch speak in her “normal” voice is interesting also, as she is answering the question as to where she got the uniquely high-pitched voice of Bernadette. (28 minutes).
The major extra on disc three is Electromagnetism: The Best Relationship Moments in Season Six. For those of us who have really gotten into the show, hearing the actor’s thoughts on their characters’ relationships is quite intriguing. This is actually a four-part piece, with a segment devoted to the three couples, then one to Raj and his friendships with Howard and Stuart (Kevin Sussman), and budding romance with Lucy. (30 minutes). Closing out the third disc are a couple of deleted scenes, and a nine-minute gag reel.
It has been a very long time since I really followed a network sitcom, and looked forward to it each week. Probably not since Seinfeld, to be honest. So, I’m hooked. In my opinion at least, The Big Bang Theory is getting better every year, and these episodes most definitely stand up to repeated viewings. The Seventh Season begins on September 26, so my suggestion is to get this set now and have a BBT-binge in anticipation.