The Good: Moments of humor, “The Convention Conundrum”
The Bad: Predictable jokes, Painful character moments, Largely stagnant characters, Only one “wow” performance the entire season, A number of mean jokes.
The Basics: The seventh season of The Big Bang Theory is an unfortunate mix of stagnation and jokes that attack the show’s loyal fanbase.
When it comes to television shows that I have been behind on, I cannot think of one I was more excited to catch up on than The Big Bang Theory. Being relegated to only two television stations over the air (plus two PBS stations!), I had to wait until The Big Bang Theory The Complete Seventh Season was released on DVD to catch up on the popular series. While the show has become a bit more predictable, I was psyched to pick up the DVDs and do a marathon of the twenty-four episode season.
Sadly, that excitement did not last long. It is not long into the seventh season of The Big Bang Theory that a disturbing new trend became painfully obvious. So much of the familiar formula was there: Sheldon’s social awkwardness, Raj’s quiet misogyny, the “will they or won’t they” of the Leonard/Penny relationship, Amy pining for Sheldon to pay her any sexual attention . . . but mixed in with the familiar dynamics and highbrow diction are jokes that are just plain mean. The sheer volume of one-liners that attack fat people, women and the characters make the show far less pleasant to watch. In fact, more than any of the prior seasons, the relationships in The Big Bang Theory make less sense in Season Seven and none of the protagonists seem especially likable or smart.
The Big Bang Theory Season Seven opens with Sheldon having nightmares about Leonard getting killed while on his boat mission (which is where Season 6, reviewed here!, ended), so he turns to Penny for companionship. They begin talking more than ever before while Amy and Bernadette bond (and then have a falling out) while at a conference together. After Leonard returns and the friends reconnect, Raj sends the group on a scavenger hunt. But tensions soon rise within the group as Howard imposes on Raj’s time with the women, Sheldon has a major scientific breakthrough that makes him a celebrity in the scientific community and Penny decides to take a leap with her acting career.
Penny’s commitment to her acting puts her and Leonard at odds (she does not believe he is supporting her and when her car dies abruptly, he proves her wrong) and leads the two to take the next step in their relationship. But when Penny takes an acting gig in the sequel to one of her first roles, a b-rate horror movie that just insults her talents (and those of Wil Wheaton). While Howard struggles to get out of returning to the International Space Station and Raj juggles two women, the collapse of Sheldon’s research leads him to have a falling out with his love of string theory physics . . . and a dramatic change in his life!
The best episode of the season, and by far the only one worth watching, is “The Convention Conundrum,” which features James Earl Jones and Carrie Fisher as guest stars. James Earl Jones is given the most fun role of his career as a comedic version of himself and he and Jim Parsons play off one another incredibly well!
The cast of The Big Bang Theory is otherwise familiar in Season Seven and its principle characters all return. In the seventh season of the show, the main characters continue to be:
Sheldon – After bonding with Penny over Leonard’s absence, he is hurt when Penny blows off his “deep revelation” to him. During the scavenger hunt, he is paired with Penny and they have fun working together. He gets “in the zone” and discovers an element, but gets cocky about it. Unfortunately, a math error robs him of his sudden celebrity and he falls out of love with string theory. Facing wholesale change in his life after Stuart’s comic book shop burns down (in combination with the other huge changes foreshadowed), he makes a drastic life change,
Leonard – After being the life of the party on an arctic boating expedition, he returns home a few days early, but keeps it from Sheldon. He is paired with the very competitive Bernadette during the scavenger hunt and he learns what Penny actually thinks of him. Leonard is the one who manages to disprove the existence of Sheldon’s element. He inadvertently hesitates when a drunken Penny proposes to him and that jeopardizes their relationship. But when he buys Penny a new car, he proves his commitment to her and he has the change to get everything he wants in life,
Raj – Finally able to talk with women without drinking, he still pines for Lucy. He tries to develop a relationship with Mrs. Davis, a single parent who works at the University. He organizes the incredible scavenger hunt around Pasadena for his friends after they blow off his murder mystery party. After meeting a veterinarian on Valentine’s Day (a plotline that is abruptly dropped!), Lucy comes back into his life after he and Amy woo a woman Raj met online. In juggling the two women, Raj starts to learn that his cute paramour might be seriously disturbed,
Howard – He and Amy are paired up for the scavenger hunt and they begin to bond because they have some fun. To get himself out of the doghouse with his wife, he writes her a song (which is the emotional high-point of the season). When NASA wants him to go back into space, he has to be reminded just how miserable the experience was the last time. With the help of his doctor, he manages to get out of going back into space, but soon his mother needs full-time care and he and Bernadette find themselves woefully unable to deliver,
Bernadette – She is super-competitive, which comes out during the scavenger hunt. She and Amy ditch Penny and start seeing one another socially outside the group, which leaves her temporarily compromised with Howard. She continues to be the breadwinner in the family and she and Howard start to have their first serious conversations about having children together . . . conversations which take a very different turn after they have to take care of Howard’s mother,
Amy – Finally breaking the rule with Howard, she goes for a ride with him during the scavenger hunt and they realize they have a shared love of Neil Diamond. When she inadvertently ruins Raiders Of The Lost Ark for Sheldon, he sets out to ruin Little House On The Prairie for him. She comes to work on a project at the University, which causes some friction between her and Sheldon. Her big Valentine’s train trip with Sheldon is ruined when they meet another man who loves trains and Sheldon pretty much ditches her. She tries to manipulate Sheldon when Leonard wants to get a dining room table for the apartment, but she overshoots,
and Penny – Thrilled to have Leonard home early, she arouses Sheldon’s suspicions by throwing out her take-out food containers! She begins reading Leonard’s mother’s book on Leonard and his troubled childhood, which upsets the scientist. After a guest-starring role on N.C.I.S. is cut, she gets drunk, proposes to Leonard, and quits working at the Cheesecake Factory. Devoting her efforts to acting entirely, she initially turns down a role in the sequel to the b-horror movie she appeared topless in when she first moved to Los Angeles. When Leonard proves his devotion to her, she makes a big move in their relationship.
Howard’s song to Bernadette is well-delivered and Melissa Rauch’s reaction is the acting high point of the season (save, of course, the comedic presentation of James Earl Jones). Without a word, Rauch manages to connote the depth of Bernadette’s love for Howard.
But the two moments – the song and James Earl Jones’s appearance – do not justify the rest of the season. The seventh season is not only less funny than prior seasons, it is the season where The Big Bang Theory actually became unpleasant to watch. Between Amy’s longing and hurtful jokes that miss their mark, season seven of The Big Bang Theory is the first season of the show that is perfectly safe to skip.
For other shows from the 2013 – 2014 television season, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Game Of Thrones - Season 4
New Girl - Season 3
The Walking Dead - Season 4
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 1
The Newsroom - Season 2
Breaking Bad - Season 5
The Clone Wars - Season 6
Orange Is The New Black - Season 2
Parenthood - Season 5
For other television season reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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