It’s not exactly within the remit of The Big Bang Theory to ‘grow’ as a show.
People watch it in huge numbers for its effortless melding of pop-culture zingers with well-timed situation comedy, and as long as it continues to provide this then it’ll always garner the kind of mammoth-sized viewing figures that it has grown accustomed to.
Saying that, every good show needs to reflect the time in which it is set, and in its own way The Big Bang Theory is attempting to do just that.
When there is more and more pressure on young people to grow up, settle down and have families in a time where the economic climate is making it increasingly difficult to do so, this is the season in which the show’s characters start to feel their age for the first time.
Penny (Kaley Cuoco) puts her acting ambitions on the backburner in favour of a lucrative job in sales; Leonard (Johnny Galecki) bemoans that she’s earning more than him despite his extensive qualifications, and even Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) are tentatively moving forward with their relationship.
Coupled with the death of Mrs Wolowitz in ‘The Comic Book Store Regeneration’ (reflecting the real-life passing of actress Carol Ann Susi), this is arguably the most serious season yet, especially considering how it ends this time round.
Saying this, there’s still room for the pop culture-immersed capers that have become the show’s trademark. Notable cameos this season include geek icons Nathan Fillion and Kevin Smith, although the undisputed highlight is Stephen Hawking as an internet troll.
Episode highlights are ‘The Focus Attenuation’ and season finale ‘The Commitment Determination’, which has potentially strong ramifications for the future of the ensemble.
By this point, The Big Bang Theory is effectively review-proof: fans will love what’s here, although there will be nothing to make the detractors change their minds.
Still, why change a winning formula?