WARNING: The following post DOES NOT spoil the final two episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”
Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! Here on Scene Before, I like to make special occasions for myself to talk about TV news. Sadly, I have still yet to see a single episode of “Game of Thrones,” therefore I cannot talk about the chaos or excitement that may be going on in its final season. However, there is another show that recently concluded that has meant the world to me, “The Big Bang Theory.” A show that has literally impacted my life to the point where I wanted to write my own version of how its eighth season would begin. And no, I do not have available copies of this, they’re on a computer I cannot currently access. Also, I have no intention on sharing them with you anytime in the future, some of them kind of associate with cheese.
This is not going to be a review of the finale (although I do give my thoughts on it). I review movies, not TV shows. If I watched more TV, I might consider doing an analytical review, but that is not going to be the case. Instead, this is going to be a story of my life and how it connects to “The Big Bang Theory” in general.
My first exposure to “The Big Bang Theory” is most likely in 2009. I didn’t watch it, in fact, I wouldn’t do so for another 2 years. However, in 2009, my parents introduced me to a guy who I would come to know as “Sheldon.” A name that found particularly interesting. Why? Well, if you were born in the late 1990’s, chances are you grew up at some point watching “Spongebob Squarepants.”
When you dedicate part of an episode to mocking the character “Plankton’s” first name, which, as you may have gathered, is “Sheldon.” How can you not think of this character as you observe another Sheldon?
On November 5, 2011. I was in the living room watching TV with the rest of my family and my parents decide to catch up on “The Big Bang Theory” since it is currently on our DVR. We then turn on one of the many interestingly-named episodes, this one in particular being “The Pulled Groin Exploitation.” While I had no real attachment to anybody after this half-hour experience, plus another half-hour dedicated to the follow-up episode, “The Wiggly Finger Catalyst,” I enjoyed what I saw. The first episode contained a funny bit at a wedding involving “The Chicken Dance.” I got to look at Sheldon Cooper being a railfan, which is a character type I’m honestly surprised to this day that we even got on mainstream TV, or even TV in general. The second episode was very intriguing, even without knowing who the characters were simply because one was constantly interacting with another character who happened to be deaf. Also, going back to that railfan thing. I consider myself a railfan as well. For all you mainstream people, that means I am fascinated by trains. I didn’t even realize it then. Sheldon was me.
There are arguments to made involving other TV shows and forms of media, that I have embodied traits, mannerisms, words, and phrases from its characters. And I certainly have embodied traits of Sheldon as I watched “The Big Bang Theory.” I found him to be fascinating as I watched various episodes, therefore he became stuck in my head. There was no denying he was smart, which was a kind of man I myself aspired to be. I didn’t aspire to be a scientist, but I would aspire to at least have the collective knowledge that Cooper contains. After all, one nerd aspect that has rarely been touched on the program, probably because in some ways, it is not always seen as a nerdy thing, is game shows. Ever since I was a young kid, I would continuously watch shows like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Jeopardy!,” and “Family Feud.” And the day that I discovered the Game Show Network was the day that I personally felt like I discovered the holy grail of life. In fact, aside from “The Big Bang Theory,” the amount of regular “new episode” programming I happen to watch is kind of small. There’s a certain level of commitment to regular TV programming that I usually tend to avoid. This is why I usually watch game shows. You usually don’t need background info from a prior episode or season to know what exactly is going on. The fact that “The Big Bang Theory” has allowed me to commit to a regular TV program for as many years as possible is a true feat. How many times do you watch a show on TV and stop watching religiously because you missed an episode or two? That happened to me with “The Middle.” It’s a good show, but there’s a lot of competition and shows like “The Big Bang Theory” became more attractive to me. And as a movie reviewer, commitment to TV is only getting more difficult. Yes, the DVR is a good invention. But as someone who prefers watching TV live as if it were an event, I have missed a lot of what might seem to be good television.
But in reality, another reason why I keep coming back to “The Big Bang Theory” is because there are a lot of situation comedies out there, but they all have this feel to them that kind of makes you feel like you’re looking at the same characters over and over. Yes, “The Big Bang Theory” is not exactly the definition of an exception to this rule, but it comes really close. A lot of situation comedies that I have seen over the years seem to have never made a “nerdy” group too prominent. Sure, you have special stereotypes like Urkel from “Family Matters,” but that’s about it. Although you can also consider Lisa and the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons.” “The Big Bang Theory” however, has Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, Rajesh, Bernadette, Amy, Stuart, and more unmentioned characters. It’s like I’m watching the “Revenge of the Nerds” of sitcoms. It made nerds relevant and cool, and if it were not for shows like this, I don’t think a show like “King of the Nerds” would have seen the light of day, or at least a second season. Part of me even wonders if we would even have things like the Marvel Cinematic Universe if it weren’t for “The Big Bang Theory.” Yes, superheroes are cool, but they’re traditionally meant for a nerdy demographic. This show managed to present itself fairly well to a mainstream audience to a point where they might as well have picked up nerdy interests along the way. Now I mention mainstream audience, and when it comes to this show, one of my friends made an interesting comparison about this show with another popular sitcom, specifically “Friends.” As nerds, he and I seem to agree that “The Big Bang Theory” has lost its touch over the years. Personally, in this last season, I think there have been a number of great episodes to feel like it has gotten said touch back, but that’s not the point. My friend said that the show has become less about nerds being nerds (even though there are occasionally nerdy activities or references) and has simply become “Friends” but with nerds as the main characters. I can sort of agree with that statement. It’s now more about the relationships between the characters more than anything else, which is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact as the show went on, I gave enormous praise for the program having some of my personal favorite bits of character development in anything I’ve seen. Whether it is between Sheldon and Amy or Leonard and Penny or even Rajesh and alcohol, it all adds up to be a work of art. In fact, speaking of characters, let’s talk about them.
I already mentioned I embody Sheldon, and I can honestly almost confirm that the creators behind “The Big Bang Theory” spent years trying to spy on my every behavior. Because let’s face it. Sheldon is practically a young child on the Autism spectrum. I myself have high-function autism, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. He and I cannot stand when people are arguing in a distance which I can hear everything that’s happening, which REALLY sucks because I have sensitive ears. I still have many fears that remain from my childhood (dogs, loud noises, needles). But then again, who doesn’t fear needles? He’s obsessed with collecting comic books as I am with collecting movies. He’s always afraid of change, and there are very rare exceptions in which I would be willing to accept change. I also to this day don’t have a driver’s license! Just for the record, I’m 19 years old, and Sheldon, who started off the series in his twenties, still didn’t have his back when the show kicked off. I’ve even been told as a kid that I mumble a lot. I don’t always think that’s a bad thing, I think that just makes me look like I have informative words to say. Granted, I wouldn’t say everything about myself completely links me as a Sheldon Cooper wannabe.
This is why we move onto Leonard Hofstadter. If Sheldon is the part of me that resembles my thoughts that make me feel like a child. Leonard is me as I grow up. I started watching this show in middle school, and I kind of became aware that at this point I probably had no chance with girls. As far as I know, boys and girls would hang out together, but based on how boys wouldn’t hang out with me (I thought homework and my 39″ TV were more important every night), why should I even have a chance with girls? Granted, as middle school began to conclude, the thought of wanting a girl to hang out with became more prevalent, but if you knew me in person, you’d probably consider putting a “kick me” sign on my back. Although that is hard to know for sure because I was generally a well-liked as a person in school, and some people appreciated me at one point for being “the guy who likes game shows.” Plus, I grew up in an area where pretty much everyone to my knowledge would treat others with respect. There are various exceptions that I have witnessed throughout my life, but for the sake of not calling people out, I shall remain silent on that subject. But when you consider how the show starts out, with Sheldon and Leonard heading into their apartment and they end up meeting their new neighbor, Penny, and Leonard begins to crush on her, it’s almost similar to what my fantasy was in life.
“Our babies will be smart and beautiful.” –Leonard Hofstadter
I wouldn’t call myself the worst looking guy in the world, but there is no way that I am Channing Tatum-level attractive. I think a good chunk of women would probably not want to go out with me if they found out my interests. In fact, I have almost evolved to the point where I don’t really need a woman to be happy. Maybe that will change once I graduate college, maybe start my life’s work, and I need a new purpose or something, or if I become close with someone in college, but the future is unwritten, and I cannot control it. In fact, much like Leonard, I still have yet to have my first kiss.
“…Maybe you’re graduating and you still haven’t had your first kiss. By the way, nineteen, Geraldine Coco, wherever you are thank you.”
For the record, I turn 20 this November.
I might even resemble a little bit of Howard, who I honestly think when it comes to this show, I think any teenage boy can relate to him. Let’s face it, if this show were “Family Guy,” Howard would be Glenn Quagmire. Only thing is that he THINKS he’s outgoing but he is not as successful as would he hope. Much like Howard I appreciate my parents and I’ll be honest, I like sex. I mean, who doesn’t? Although this brings me back to how I cannot get girls, I cannot say I have ever slept with anyone. Then again, I’m rather young so it might as well be wise of me to remain in my current position. I can’t really say I have a belt buckle collection, but much like Sheldon and Leonard, I tend to collect a lot of t-shirts. Also, Howard is an engineer, and apparently when I was twelve, I took an online test and it determined that I’ll be an engineer one day. I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet, but it’s still an interesting statistic.
One thing I’ll miss from the show is how it managed to tackle current geek phenomenons. There was an episode where everyone is trying to go see “The Force Awakens,” but that is slightly interrupted by Amy’s birthday, which many consider to be one of the best in the series. There’s also an episode where the guys are trying to buy tickets to San Diego Comic-Con, but not everyone bought tickets successfully despite refreshing computer screens with extreme effort. That episode by the way has a cameo from Carrie Fisher and an AWESOME guest appearance by James Earl Jones. Then there was another one that was basically an entire parody on our current gaming market. Sheldon has trouble deciding on two competing gaming systems (PS4 & Xbox One) and he feels the need to choose one cause, ya know, upgrades!
I’m guessing if Stuart from the comic book store showed up, he’d probably go with “PC.”
I was able to relate to these topics. I was obsessed with “Star Wars,” I love video games, and the idea of gathering with other nerds in a giant building just sounds like a hoot.
In fact, there is an argument to make that if I weren’t introduced to certain ideas that “The Big Bang Theory” manages to present, I’d be a completely different person. In fact, as of now, I don’t play many sports. I am now trying to go to more “event-type” experiences at the movie theater, and I have also given a greater appreciation to a lot of overlooked art, particularly in the film industry. I say this because while I think it is fantastic that nerdy has become cool, it has me worried that comic book movies (along with live-action remakes, sequels, etc.) is all we will be witnessing from major studios like Disney for years to come. I am now latching onto independent studios like A24, Neon, and more. It allows me to have a different perspective on movies than maybe some of my friends. I’m not saying they’re stupid for watching comic book movies, because those movies are great. Did anyone see “Avengers: Endgame?” If you haven’t, I recommend it! But when it comes to film, I have now fallen into a path where I tend to sometimes watch whatever the crowd isn’t watching. Kind of like video games, when everybody was talking about “Fortnite,” I never picked up my controller to play it because EVERYBODY. WOULD. NOT. STOP. TALKING ABOUT IT. Coincidentally, the show did have a funny episode dedicated to “Fortnite.”
Also, even though I mentioned I don’t like sports, I gotta admit, bowling is pretty fun.
When I am not watching the show, I would make references to it, borrowing various quotes from the characters, and it’s definitely more than just “bazinga.” I’ll occasionally wear t-shirts associated with the show. I have watched various bonus features, including one revealing how tapings work for the show. My family and I were going to California together for the first time, and the trip to LA in particular was a Christmas gift. While we could not get into a taping for “The Big Bang Theory,” we got the next best thing. A tour of Warner Brothers Studios, where the show holds its tapings throughout each season. I got the opportunity to look at Stage 25, which was recently renamed as “The Big Bang Theory” stage, in person. Unfortunately, I do not have pictures, as I was not permitted to take them, but going into a space that I have on my TV screen perhaps more times than my PS2, was kind of a dream come true. I got to know various hidden secrets about the set, and what parts of the soundstage remained during season 12. This set was used for movies like “Casablana,” “Blade Runner,” and “Gremlins 2: The New Batch.” As for TV shows aside from “The Big Bang Theory,” it was used for “Maverick,” “Cheyanne,” and “What I Like About You.” This experience had the magic of Doctor Strange and the wonder of being above a slightly cloudy sky while possessing a window seat on a Southwest flight.
And now, since we’re at the end, I must bring something up about a season 1 episode titled “The Nerdvana Annihilation.” This episode is perhaps the most unrealistic of the entire series. That does not mean it is the worst one made, but it has elements of extreme fiction intact. Why? Leonard wins a fully-functioning time machine on eBay. Another thing to consider is that nobody else bid for said time machine. C’mon! There’s no young guy who would want to go back in time and fix that one mistake he made on his geometry test or something? But if this episode has taught me something, it’s to never let go of what makes you “you.” There’s an entire side of the story dedicated to Penny being late for work and she takes her rage out on the guys. Her frenzy allows her to reveal her bewilderment towards the guys being “grown men” who own action figures, comic books, and other nerdy items. Yes, being a nerd can make you look like a kid. But I am one, even as I grow up, who would give anything in the world to keep various aspects of my childhood. I love “Star Wars,” I love superheroes, I love game shows. It’s all been a form of escapism for me throughout many years. Even in my house, a lot remains the same. My bedroom has the same furniture for almost a lifetime. I’ve had a baseball glove chair in the room since maybe age 12. Also, you know how I don’t like sports? Eh, baseball’s actually kinda fun sometimes. I have kept just about every gaming console I have ever owned. Why? Because it is all a part of me. If I get rid of even a console I don’t play as much as I used to like my Nintendo DS Lite, a part of me would feel incomplete. Much like Sheldon Cooper, it is hard for me to adapt to change. I have lived in the same town all my life, therefore I’ve always had my spot. Similar to Sheldon’s “bazinga,” I would always use the word “amazing” when I was young. And while the show may not always showcase this, he and I both seem to be night owls. In fact, in that recently mentioned episode, “The Nerdvana Annihilation,” Sheldon got out of bed at 2AM just to fool around with the time machine.
Change is inevitable, and sometimes it just SUCKS. And it especially sucks when you can’t get over changes that have happened ages ago. Thank you Sheldon, without you, I would probably have nobody to relate to.
Without spoiling the final episode. “The Big Bang Theory” ended as it all started. With a big bang. I thought the opening few minutes (either with or without the epic “PREVIOUSLY ON” segment), made for the single best opening in the entire series. It might be up there as my favorite sitcom episode opening ever. Why? It was like I was at an “Avengers” premiere where I started cheering for the positive things that happened. I kind of regret not throwing a party. Throw a few laughs in there, you’ve got yourself the perfect appetizer for that night’s episode. It puts a perfect bow with what has been built up from the beginning of season 12, and even adds in some fan service. The episode is not perfect, witnessing Sheldon, while definitely in-character, was a tad awkward at first, but as the episode goes on, it improves to the tenth degree. I highly recommend you’d watch it, especially if you have followed the series for an extended period of time.
I’d like to thank “The Big Bang Theory” for being an amazing and one-of-a-kind source of entertainment for these years. I honestly think this show will go down as one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. And only time will tell if there is another show like it. Only time will determine if there will be another show of “Big Bang’s” quality, while also being a great influence on our modern day nerd culture.
THANK YOU JESUS! …As my mother would say. –Sheldon Cooper
And as for “Game of Thrones,” let’s hope the fans don’t cancel HBO.
Thanks for reading this post! This Tuesday I am going to see “John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” so I will have a review of that by the end of next week. As for other content, I am currently working on a post involving “Avengers: Endgame” and its odds of beating “Avatar” at the box office. Will it ever see the light of day? That’s hard to say, but I am working on it, and there is a good chance that if I have nothing else to do over the next few days (which is technically false, since I’m going to Rhode Island), I will spend some time working on that post. Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, what is your relationship with “The Big Bang Theory?” I will admit, I know some friends who think it is the worst thing on the face of the Earth, and they are entitled to that opinion. To me, it is a small part of what has shaped my life. Also, if anybody watched the recent series finale, what are your thoughts on that?
And, I would like to ask another question. What is your favorite episode? As for mine, I gotta go with “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification” (S4E02). Sheldon as a robot kills me every time. Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and if you would like a behind the scenes tour of the set given by someone who worked on the show, check out the video below from Mayim Bialik!