With Leonard finally engaged to girl-across-the-hall Penny after countless proposals, the possibilities for happiness seem endless…while the probability for laughs is a foregone conclusion. What’s unknown is how this might impact the ironclad “Roommate Agreement” he’s entered into with Sheldon. Add to this, Sheldon’s uncomfortably close relationship with neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler; Raj’s newfound ability to talk to and date women; and Howard and Bernadette’s solution to an in-house caretaker (their friend Stuart) for the always outspoken Mrs. Wolowitz, and the worlds of science and sitcom are about to hilariously collide!
Believe it or not, as recently as a year ago, I had not watched a single episode of 'The Big Bang Theory'. I knew very little about the show, except that it was co-created and co-produced by Chuck Lorre, whose other sitcoms – particularly 'Two and a Half Men' – I couldn't stand and didn't find humorous at all. However, I had more than a few friends and colleagues tell me that this series was something special, so around Christmas time last year, I decided to start at the beginning and watch a few episodes. I was almost immediately hooked and have spent the past year catching up on all the seasons I missed.
Which brings us to Season 8 of the show. I've heard many complaints that 'The Big Bang Theory' isn't as funny as it used to be, and perhaps it's not – there are only so many Star Wars, Star Trek, and superhero jokes you can make before they begin to get a bit repetitive. But what any of these newer episodes may lose in side-splitting hilarity, they more than make up for in the familiarity and chemistry the actors have with one another at this point in the show's run. We like these characters and we like spending time with them, and a large part of that is credited to just how good the actors are at what they do.
As with most prior seasons of the series, the first episode of Season 8 needs to deal with the 'cliffhanger' that wrapped up the prior season. In this case, Season 7 concluded with Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) deciding he needed to get away from things for a while and left town via his favorite mode of transportation: a train. As one might suspect, things haven’t gone well for Dr. Cooper, and we find him robbed of all his belongings (including his pants!) and calling up his best friend Leonard (Johnny Galecki) for help.
The prior season also ended with Leonard and Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) announcing their engagement, so a big part of this season is devoted to them starting to plan their future together as a couple (finishing off in a season-ending decision about their wedding). In fact, romantic relationships are very much the key to Season 8, as all the main characters progress (and in some cases, deteriorate) in their involvement with their significant others.
One of the biggest developments in Season 8 came due to the untimely death of actress Carol Ann Susi, who was the voice (her character was never seen) of Howard's (Simon Helberg) mother. The showrunners wisely chose not to recast, and instead write the death of Howard's mother into the episodes. This being a comedy, it's a rare chance to see some emotional range from these characters, and Simon Helberg, in particular, is given the chance to shine in a number of powerful moments.
I'm not sure exactly where I'd rank Season 8 among the other seasons of 'The Big Bang Theory', but will say that, honestly, they've all delivered quite a bit of fun. Usually, in Season 8 of any series (any series that's lucky enough to make it that far), you'd start to get a little tired of the same characters finding themselves in similar situations over and over again, but that hasn't been the case with this show, and it's one of those rare TV gems that I don't want to see end anytime soon. Perhaps that's because I just discovered the show recently, but I think it's really because 'The Big Bang Theory' has been almost perfectly cast with some of the best comedic talent you'll find on television.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
Unlike the past couple seasons of 'The Big Bang Theory', which were Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo packs, Warner Bros. has decided to ditch the DVDs this time around and just provide buyers with the Blu-rays and a Digital HD code. The two 50GB discs are contained inside a standard Elite keepcase, with an insert containing the HD code, as well as a tri-fold listing all the episodes (and a short synopsis of each) and bonus materials on the two discs. Like all previous sets, the keepcase slides inside a cardboard slipcover whose front and back covers match that of the keepcase's slick.
There are no front-loaded trailers on either of the discs, whose main menu is a still image that matches the box cover photo, with menu selections along the bottom of the screen in the same design we see on the vast majority of Warner Bros. releases.
The Blu-rays in this release are region-free.
Each episode of 'The Big Bang Theory' has been shot digitally in 4k with Sony F55 cameras, a switch the series made back in its seventh season, and is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Each episode looks wonderful in 1080p, full of bright colors, noticeable depth, and deep, inky black levels. Skin tones are both natural-looking and consistent throughout the 24 episodes. There's a lot of 'pop' to this release, and the fact that the showrunners always seem to dress both their characters and their sets in such a variety of the color spectrum makes almost every scene in this series fun to view on Blu-ray.
As far as any glitches like banding or aliasing, I didn't notice any problems while viewing the shows. There are episodes like 'The Champagne Reflection' where use of a video camera by the characters intentionally makes the image look less than spectacular, but that's the way it's supposed to look, so you'll get no complaints here.
Each episode's primary track is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio one that, while not always that active, delivers crisp and clear sound with no glitches to speak of. For those who own prior season sets on Blu-ray, you're probably already aware that there's not much in the sense of immersiveness or directionality in these tracks, with the exception of each episode's opening theme and the animated 'bumpers' between scenes during which you can hear a 'swooshing' sound going through the rear speakers. Dialogue is pretty much exclusively up-front throughout. There's occasional ambient noises as well, depending on what's happening on screen, but these episodes have never provided material that really shows off one's home theater setup. Still, there's little to complain about.
In addition to the English lossless track, each episode also has 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks available in Spanish (Castilian) and Portuguese. Subtitles are available in English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin), and Portuguese.
'The Big Bang Theory' has been around long enough now that even when an storyline isn't firing on all cylinders, the familiarity and camaraderie that the actors have with one another manages to make such episodes better than they have any right to be. In its eighth season, it's remarkable that the show still manages to have both the energy and the frequent laughs that it does, and – for the most part – I didn't find this season to be disappointing in the least. It's still a very fun series to watch. Recommended.