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Are there any Big Bang Theory ripoff shows?

Discussion in 'Now Playing - TV Show Talk' started by Bob_Newhart, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. Bob_Newhart

    Bob_Newhart My Custom User Title

    Jul 14, 2004
    I, too, would prefer they go back to the early days when most of the storylines focused on the guys (and penny too) but with them getting older I guess the writers figured they needed to make them all "grow up" and get into relationships. :(
  2. murgatroyd

    murgatroyd Don't stop believin'

    Jan 5, 2002
    Berkeley CA
    Yes, but when they have the attributes of what a geek recognizes as a fellow geek, that's funnier.

    There are three jokes in the early days which have stuck in my mind as evidence of how much funnier the show used to be. These aren't necessarily the best examples, just the ones that stick out for me.

    One is during a discussion that the guys are having with the department chairman (it could have been during the episode about the turf war over the office). Howard thinks he's not getting enough respect and says indignantly "I have a master's degree!" And the department chair says "Who doesn't?"

    Maybe this is only funny when you've been in graduate school and hung out with PostDocs, but I laughed so hard, I had to pause the TiVo.

    I don't expect them to hit on that same note over and over. Well, Sheldon does, but that's Sheldon. But if there have been other jokes in the show recently which are funny primarily to people who have been in academia, I don't remember them. The scenes which have been set at scientific conferences, for instance, have not had the vibe I recall from going to conferences. They don't make me laugh and say "oh, I've been there". They are "we want to do this joke, and we need them to be at a conference for it to happen" jokes, which to me means "stereotype" rather than "authentic".

    Another early gag I recall is a visual from when they went to something like a RenFair. Howard is a jester, Raj is a monk, Leonard is a knight -- and Sheldon is in a Star Trek uniform. It was a brilliant bit of shorthand from the wardrobe department to illustrate their characters.

    Then there was S2 episode "The Hofstadter Isotope" where Penny goes out on a date with Stuart from the comic book store. She was bringing Stuart home to her place, and Sheldon intercepts them by the elevator because he's been duking it out with people on the net over a Batman plot point, and wants to boast about how right he was to Stuart. I instantly thought of http://xkcd.com/386/ -- and I'm sure I'm not the only xkcd fan who did.

    These days, the jokes seem to be much more generic, and less tech/geek/fan specific.

    I know a lot of people think we are being over-fussy by going back to this complaint over and over again. However, to contrast/compare, I just saw one of the anniversary retrospectives for M*A*S*H, where the cast/show makers talked about what they used as background material for their show. They drew extensively on diaries and other primary source materials from people who had been in Korea in real MASH units, sometimes to the point of having characters in the show use the actual words of the real people in their letters home. Thus M*A*S*H feels very authentic.

    I was looking up something about imdb about Alan Alda and discovered that Alda startled his doctor recently when he had surgery, because the procedure he was undergoing was one which had been done on the show. When the surgeon started to explain the procedure in layman's terms, Alda was able to refer to it by its medical name and knew enough to show that he was already familiar with the procedure by virtue of having "done it" on the show.

    This is how you differentiate Verisimilitude from stereotype. It is this kind of authenticity which is now missing from TBBT.
  3. Steveknj

    Steveknj Lost in New Joisey

    Mar 10, 2003
    New Jersey
    That's all fine and good, but the idea of TV is to get ratings. There has to be some sort of balance. Writing a show that is funny to just a few "geeks" who get the jokes might work on, say, SyFy where the audience is primarily geeks (or at least used to be). But for network TV you have to strike a balance. It's the same complaint I sometimes have with Community (another show I like a lot). When you write for a small group of people who get it, you sometimes, end up "mocking" a good portion of your audience, who DON'T get it. When you're left out of the joke, you're not going to want to keep watching. Community does this way too often and the rating suffer. TBBT found a nice balance. Yes a lot of it is stereotypes, but the characters are recognized as geeks, even geeks that other geeks will recognize and understand. Taking about a certain scientific theory for 5 minutes or about some obscure comic book character is just going to bore most of the audience. You might be laughing, but I wouldn't be, because I just won't get it, and I'll move on.

    As for M*A*S*H, it was authentic, but it never talked over the head of the audience. Most people of the 1970s and early 80s had either lived through WWII, Korea or Viet Nam and got what they were trying to show. Still, the first three years, which were probably more authentic than the later episodes were not rated nearly what the show would be later in the run. And those first three years were some of the funniest TV moments of all time. That's due to Larry Gelbart and his writing team more than anything else.
  4. Bob_Newhart

    Bob_Newhart My Custom User Title

    Jul 14, 2004
    and all of these funnier things happened BEFORE Bernadaette, and Priya, and AFF infected the show. Coincidence? I think not.
  5. Steveknj

    Steveknj Lost in New Joisey

    Mar 10, 2003
    New Jersey
    And also before the ratings increased to where they are now. Coincidence, I ALSO think not.
  6. TonyD79

    TonyD79 Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    Columbia, MD
    And now we get into the stupid TCF thread that bemoans that a show is not as good as when it started. I find myself coming here less and less. This place is so predictable.
  7. Bob_Newhart

    Bob_Newhart My Custom User Title

    Jul 14, 2004
    I knew you were going to say that.
  8. waynomo

    waynomo My One Time TCF Club

    Nov 9, 2002
    I think this is a problem with a lot of shows. They become caricatures of themselves. Their most popular or funniest features become exaggerated. They tend to also become a bit formulaic.
  9. Rob Helmerichs

    Rob Helmerichs I am Groot! TCF Club

    Oct 17, 2000
    Yeah, there's a combination of factors at work here. This (which I think is entirely a bad thing), and the general dumbing down of the show to broaden its appeal (which is not automatically a bad thing, although while they did it successfully, I think they could have done it in a less alienating way).
  10. scooterboy

    scooterboy Coney Island Small

    Mar 27, 2001
    If I didn't know better, I might think that you don't like those characters.
  11. marksman

    marksman ID-10-T

    Mar 4, 2002
    Yeah people acting like it was a different show or other than a broad multi cam sitcom are denying reality.
  12. marksman

    marksman ID-10-T

    Mar 4, 2002
    If you look who wrote most of the first season episodes almost all of them were there after season 2.
  13. mattack

    mattack Active Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    I only leave in the last quoted paragraph, because I think with the joke, you're seeing everything as a nail. (Mixed metaphor?)

    I see that as simply a "I'm more educated than you" joke, not some deep graduate school joke. Even if that one was done by the department chair, Sheldon repeatedly makes the "I'm smarter/more educated than you" joke (which is why I left in the quoted part).

    I don't see it as being any different, just given by a different person.
  14. Peter000

    Peter000 Well-Known Member TCF Club

    Apr 15, 2002
    Red Wing, MN
    I disagree. I thought the first couple of seasons, which I've been watching now and again in syndication, that they acted like cardboard cutout stereotypical geeks.

    Now the characters are human beings that happen to be geeks. Aside from Sheldon who almost has no humanity at all.

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