Last week’s season premiere of The Big Bang Theory was underwhelming to say the least. The story lines moved nowhere and the characters showed little growth over the summer break. Normally, I’d write season premiere issues off as potential growing pains, but this is a problem that emerged last season.
Season Four (two seasons ago) marked the beginning of a transition period for The Big Bang Theory. Bernadette and Amy Farrah Fowler entered the fray as permanent characters. While plenty of shows introduce new characters, they don’t necessarily alter the basic framework of the show itself. This was not the case for Big Bang.
The addition of regular female characters besides Penny meant that the four principle male characters had to change completely. They weren’t hopeless nerds anymore. Romantic interests certainly helped progress the show, but now we’re essentially in a “where do we go from here” type situation.
Last season was very hit or miss. If you look at the three relationships of the show, one progressed (Howard and Bernadette), one regressed (Leonard and Penny), and one took baby steps forward for a bit before becoming stagnant (Sheldon and Amy). The problem with this scheme is that Howard is essentially a second tier leading character who is in possession of the only compelling storyline on the show.
Sheldon and Amy’s “relationship” has the potential to be the funniest storyline on the whole show. It could also do wonders for Sheldon’s character. Unfortunately, very little has been done with them since their “relationship” started early last season. This season opener continued this circular pattern.
The Leonard and Penny’s storyline is so tired and beaten to death. The opener failed to solve any answers, indicating that the show will continue to milk this relationship for all it’s worth. Unfortunately at this point, there’s not much to milk. They need to commit one way or the other.
I’m not too concerned with Raj, who is performing his job quite well as a secondary character. I am concerned that The Big Bang Theory has simply run out of gas. Not many shows can stay compelling into their sixth season. If the show cannot continue to grow, then there won’t be much of a point in watching.