It’s no easy task to keep a popular sitcom feeling fresh & funny after 6 lengthy seasons. It was around the time of its sixth season that the quality of Friends notably began to dwindle from time to time, as it did occasionally in Frasier & often in Two and a Half Men. Unfortunately, there are times during this sixth season of Big Bang Theory that fall in to the same trap; the jokes – like the narrative – begin to get repetitive. It’s a true testament however, mainly to the talents of the cast, that the show continues to shine; always leaving a broad smile slapped broadly on your face.
We rejoin Leonard, Sheldon etc. not long after the season 5 finale that saw Howard marry Bernadette before rocketing off in to space. With all the lead characters now so well established, the writers begin to forego a main narrative in order to develop the relationships they share; so there’s more doubt from Penny over her relationship with Leonard, more disappointment for Amy in her relationship with Sheldon & more cries from Bernadette for Howard to exert his independence. These moments, which take up a substantial amount of the first few episodes aren’t without comic touches that make you more than giggle, but having seen each theme played out before means the show doesn’t feel as fresh and exciting as it once did.
More successful is the development of Raj who, having spent the majority of the first 5 seasons being eclipsed narratively by the other leads, drives the sixth season’s main story. Kunal Nayyar, like the others, has always stood out in his own way and it’s nice to finally see Raj take a much bigger part in proceedings. His story centers on his relationship with Lucy, a girl who he connects with through their similar social anxiety issues. There are some wonderful moments between the two, particularly during their first date, commutated entirely by text message, that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Justifiably, we are given little opportunity to get to know Lucy but this doesn’t matter, it’s how she allows Raj to develop that holds our interest and a potentially game-changing finale promises the start of something new in the impending seventh season.
The story lines may feel worn at times, but there’s still much to enjoy from the rest of the cast & some wonderfully emotive gems to look out for. Particularly noteworthy is ‘The Closet Reconfiguration”, which explores Howard’s lack of relationship with his father. Simon Helberg flexes his emotional chops by giving a memorably touching performance, while the writers show their talent at handling issues the audience may be able to identify with on a personal level.
The best laughs still come from Jim Parsons though, who has created something uniquely special in Sheldon over the years. Parson’s consistently flawless performance always shines through. Although Mayim Bialik resolutely holds her own next to him.
It’s repetitiveness may slow the pace at times, particularly during the first quarter of the season, but for the most part The Big Bang Theory delivers everything you want and expect from the show. Moreover, by developing Raj’s story the writers cleverly open up the narrative for the future; who knows, maybe Raj will have a second chance with Penny… BAZINGA!
The Big Bang Theory Season 6 is now available on DVD & Blu-Ray. A Season 1-6 Box set is also available.