Two nerdy scientists obsessed with video games and fantasy films live together in an apartment. Moving in across the hall is a foxy blonde. Hilarity ensues, right? Well, actually, yeah.
"The Big Bang Theory" rises above its rather formulaic setup, thanks to terrific writing and utterly likable leads. After a shaky start, it took me about five minutes to submit to its charms, but one day, three discs and 17 episodes later, I was ready for more.
Johnny Galecki ("Roseanne") and Jim Parsons ("Garden State") are lovelorn Leonard and self-righteous Sheldon, while Kaley Cuoco ("8 Simple Rules") is pretty Penny, literally the girl next door. While the trio forms an unlikely friendship, Leonard pines for a forever-ever-after twosome.
The real sparks, however, fly when the other geeks come over: Simon Helberg ("Mad TV") and newcomer Kunal Nayyar provide indispensable support, not just as Leonard and Sheldon's equally socially inept pals, but for the show in general. When that dweeb quartet assembles, it's ribald punch-line nirvana.
With single-camera comedies like "The Office" and "30 Rock" (deservedly) all the rage, it's a bit jarring to see a sitcom stick to the once-traditional, multi-camera format, shot in front of a live studio audience. But it's also appropriate for "The Big Bang Theory," because "? and I can't believe I'm writing this, but it's true "? when it hits peaks, it crackles like a good Broadway play. "Theory" isn't destined to go down in TV history or even provide a footnote, but it's sharper, smarter entertainment than for which it's currently getting credit.