Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided the writer with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions shared are his own.
It’s hard to believe that it was 12 years ago that the two lovable nerds, Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), first walked into Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) life and into television history. Over that time, the show was nominated for 46 Primetime Emmy Awards and holds the record of most episodes for a multi-camera sitcom at 279.
The premise was fairly simple. You take two socially awkward physicists and put them next to a beautiful, very social, girl-next-door character and let them interact. It may have been a simple idea but as this collection discusses there was a second pilot for the show where the neighbor girl wasn’t so nice. Thankfully, that is not the version we got to know. Add astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), who can’t talk in font of women, and oversexed engineer Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and the two worlds collide with great comical effect. While there was plenty of material to work with, the characters needed to evolve as the story moved along. Leonard and Penny started a romantic relationship in the first season and additional love interests were added for other characters, Bernadette Rostenkowski (Melissa Rauch) for Howard and surprisingly, Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) for Sheldon. These additional characters added more opportunities for stories and helped fill out the cast and give it a more rounded experience while adding more female perspectives.
As the show gained in popularity, more and more celebrities found their way into the story as well as authentic physicists and scientists. Stephen Hawking was the biggest name in science who had several appearances on the show and showed a sense of humor as he allowed himself to be the butt of some of the jokes. For celebrities, it was Wil Wheaton who started off as Sheldon’s arch nemesis then eventually evolved into a friend that routinely showed up throughout the series as a major catalyst of events. Every celebrity appearance helped to branch out the appeal to a bigger audience and led to its ultimate dominance in the television lineup.
The majority of the seasons were strong. There may have been a couple near the end that people could argue were a little weaker, but at least the final season ended on a high note. it’s difficult to pick out the best episodes from all of this material, but I have two that always stand out in my memory and will watch anytime I get a chance:
“The Adhesive Duck Deficiency” (Season 3 Episode 8) where Penny falls in the shower and dislocates her arm. Sheldon is called to her rescue where he must find a way to get her dressed and off to the hospital. His attempt at getting her dressed and then filing out her medical forms is hysterical.
The other episode is “The Euclid Alternative” (Season 2 Episode 5). After the gang gets tired of driving Sheldon around to run all his errands while he constantly complains, they have an intervention for him and put him on a driving simulator. The simulator goes horribly wrong and he somehow manages to end up in the Glendale Galleria with an extremely funny airbag deployment gag.
This box set contains 25 separate discs. Each season is broken in two and contains all the Special Features that were included on previous releases. The twelfth season includes six new features.
- “The Big Bang Theory‘s Impact” – Show creator Chuck Lorre and the cast have a party for UCLA students who have received scholarship money from the show to fund science education and graduated in 2019.
- “The Big Bang Theory Cast Visits Ellen” – The cast goes on to talk about the ending of the series on the Ellen DeGeneres television show.
- “Best of The Big Bang Theory Comic-Con 2018 Panel” – As they have done for many years, the cast returns to San Diego Comic-Con to discuss the upcoming season.
- “The Sweet Spot”- Mark Sweet, the show’s warm-up act, discusses his experience with the series and the uniqueness of the live audience members who show up to witness the taping of the show.
- “The Last Days of The Big Bang Theory” – Follow along with the cast on their last week of table reads and live audience interaction as they wrap up the final episode.
- “Unraveling The Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell” – This is a special that aired on television right after the finale episode hosted by Galecki and Cuoco as they reminisce about their time on the show, discuss what it will be like afterwards, and thank the audience for watching.
The final disc contains nothing but special features:
- “The Big Bang Theory: A Retrospective” – Co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady discuss how the concept of the show came to be and how the cast was selected.
- “The Big Bang Theory‘s Greatest Hits: 12 Years in 24 Minutes” – It’s not really a best of the show, but a number of short clips you could watch that would give anyone watching the very basic plot of how the show evolved from start to finish.
- “All The Stars in The Big Bang Theory Universe” – Many guest celebrities were on the show and this feature goes through them and list the names of the specific episodes in case you may want to watch specific ones.
- There is also a “Gag Reel”, which is fun to watch. Sheldon Cooper is such a perfectionist that it just makes you laugh watching Jim Parsons mess up the lines. Plus, this one has Kathy Bates on it and it’s not often to see someone of her status having such difficulty.
The Blu-rays are presented in 1080p High Definition 16×9 1.78:1 with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. The video quality is good, but since it’s a sitcom and not really something you are watching for stunning special effects or visuals, it doesn’t stand out any more than other Blu-ray discs. Even comparing the quality from Season One to Season Twelve, where there could be aging issues, the video still appeared to be consistent throughout. The audio quality was also good without any specific standout quality.
As difficult as it is to believe how long the show ran, it’s even more difficult to accept that it won’t be returning. After more than a decade, the audience feels like they really know each of the characters. The show was special and transformational. Maybe it was the timing of the show’s first airing, but it felt that it was one of the leading factors in the rise of the current nerd culture. Comic books, superheroes, cosplaying, and conventions are now mainstream. Leonard and Sheldon started off as something to laugh at and ended up turning into people everyone wants to become.
Not a day goes by where myself or people I know don’t reference something said on the show. How many people know all the words to “Soft Kitty” or now play Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock? There’s a huge fan base that is going to miss this show even though it’s currently running in syndication and will be for some time. But even when it stops this Blu-ray collection will be something they can enjoy for even longer. And while the episodes are fun, the Special Features are heartwarming and touching. (You can’t help but tear up when you hear the Bare Naked Ladies slowly playing the theme song for the last time). I have many seen many television series come and go and the one thing I always want is to see the cast to come out and say goodbye directly to the audience and tell everyone how important this whole experience has been to them. At the end of The Big Bang Theory, they do a great job of doing so.