TV Mondays-4/13/09

Brief takes on The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and Chuck after the cut!

The Big Bang Theory–“The Hofstadter Isotope”

I usually treat CBS’ first hour as a nice amuse-bouche before viewing NBC’s richer Chuck. While I am not immune to attempts to make these shows seem more substantial than they really are (Sheldon asĀ  aspie; HIMYM as subjective, selective Saget memory), the heart of my enjoyment lies in how they handle basics such as character interaction and timing. The Big Bang Theory attempts to make the horse-and-buggy version of the sitcom function as smoothly as possible.

For the most part, BBT does an admirable job promoting the virtues of a typical sitcom. Episodes like the Hofstadter Isotope remind us that the horse-and-buggy sitcom died for a good reason, however. This Episode sacrified characterization for jokes, as when Penny decided Stuart’s portrait was not creepy, or when Stuart (a comparatively high-functioning guy next to our protagonists) exchanges a hookup with Penny for an argument with Sheldon. Leonard and Wolowitz’s excursion to the bar (NOT on ladie’s night, thus wasting the setup anything-can-happen Thursday provided) was almost completely pointless, and the characters learned nothing and didn’t create fresh humor. They didn’t even sell Wolowitz’s mis-steps well. And while one could probably fashion a no-prize to explain Sheldon’s inaccurate Spider-Man title listings, shouldn’t we be upset that the writers screwed up?

How I Met Your Mother-“Mosbius Designs”

First of all, Ted’s company name is hilarious, especially is you’re familiar with Moebius Design. And I enjoy the tossed-off manner in which the show deals with the pregnancies of its two female leads. But this episode was pretty lame. The Kramerica-style A plot was absurd, but didn’t develop consistent rules to govern its flight of fancy. I think it could have used one more twist, so we don’t put it all together within the first five minutes. They need to do more setups like Barney’s fake family in “The Stinsons.” I think Marshall’s stint at GNB could use a little more pathos, given the circumstances in which he took the job.

Chuck–“Chuck vs. the First Kill”

What a Bakula-tease. The episode began with a Bakula bumper promising his appearance, which did not come to pass. It’s no wonder NBC is floundering.

My main complaint with Chuck is that it repeats the same emotional cues over and over again with little variation, and we got a double dose tonight of Chuck’s lingering feelings for his ex Jill, and Chuck’s hesitant trust in Sarah. Man, does Zach Levi sell every scene as if it’s fresh, though. Even if I get exasperated at hearing about his issues every episode, I never for a second question the character’s voice.

This episode also features a comical number of deaths. Given Chuck’s reaction to Sarah cooly shooting a Fulcrum agent earlier this season, you’d expect him to be a little more upset about the deaths he’s caused here. Maybe the emotional fallout is still to come. I’m excited about the direction the show’s headed into starting next week, for both Chuck and Morgan. Morgan is a Chuck-surrogate by this point at the Buy More, and has done a lot of growing up. I’m eager to see how he enacts revenge against Millbarge.


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