The Big Bang Theory wrapped up in 2019 with its final season. The shows 279th episode received a 9.6 rating on IMDB and positive reviews from critics and proved to be a rare treat for both show and audience. Final episodes and television series overall tend to be lifeless husks of what they once were, like the mangey family dog, the back legs have gone… yet they mean too much to be put down.
Over the 12 years, The Big Bang Theory has entertained millions with its own brand of geek-chic. A science-based show with slow-burn storytelling. Following Jim Parsons requested exit from the show, the sitcom gave viewers their conclusion by wrapping up its final season with a warm fuzzy finale.
But not this one! Join me as I recall how the final 12th season wasn’t just good, it was the best season of The Big Bang Theory of them all.
SPOILER WARNING: The next section contains spoilers from the show.
What established the show so long ago was its use of simple character types. Nerds’ live across the hall from an attractive lady…that was it, that was the story.
For a while, not much else was needed. Personalities were introduced and characters were slowly developed. All while the classic life events of 20 to 30+ year-olds happen (marriage, children etc..). All alongside some more extraordinary achievements (being sent to space etc.). But, the show made sure to operate on a much slower rate of change to match Sheldon’s pace.
The show can be criticised for many things, but pulling the trigger on Sheldon conforming to social norms too quickly, isn’t one of them. Season 12 starts following Sheldon and Amy’s wedding. This is an unthinkable scenario compared to season 1. Yet the episodes don’t run out of steam or jump to the convention of them starting a family. Instead, the narrative of them running for a Nobel prize is the focus, whilst the topic of family is reserved to one episode and is ran as an experiment by Amy; sticking with the shows core identity: scientists…doing science.
The show also plays with the pregnancy angle with the bait and switch of Leonard being a sperm donor for Penny’s ex Zack. This arc was refreshing and inverted expectations. Before conforming to the more predictable scenario of Penny and Leonard expecting by the finale.
Leonard’s growth as the main character reached an apex in season 12. His deep-seated insecurities were often explained by his cold childhood and distant relationship with his mother. Towards the end of the final season, Leonard finally got to vent and forgive his mother. This came through an emotional monologue. One where both characters are stripped from their academic caricatures and a genuine connection is allowed.
Johnny Galecki, who played Leonard, told USA Today “I read over some of my initial notes about Leonard when we were doing the pilot and how much I thought the character was focused not just on Penny’s looks and charm but on her being the portal for him to experience life in a way he was too afraid to at the time. She completely brought him out of his shell.”
Season 12 gave the audience closure on Leonard’s backstory. It took the focus of the shy, insecure Leonard and presented a more comfortable character. Leonard, the acclaimed scientist, husband of his dream girl and soon to be a father.
Over the shows time on air, the program achieved a historical 46 Emmy nominations and with this global acclaim came a plethora of guest stars.
From sci-fi legends such as Mark Hamill and Carrie Fischer to the biggest names in science like Stephen Hawking. The show became such a staple of pop culture, and no guest became too big to be woven into the script.
This season alone saw Teller as Larry Fowler and Kathy Bates as Mrs Fowler. Whilst Neil deGrasse Tyson, William Shatner, Kevin Smith, Ellen DeGeneres and Sarah Michelle Gellar all made appearances.
By the final season, the show knew how to utilise guests in order to progress the stories being told. Lesser shows can use guest appearances to pop a rating at a desperate attempt to drive interest in the program (looking at you The Simpsons). Yet, The Big Bang Theory became so successful, they were able to craft established personalities into actual storylines with the main characters. All while allowing the guest to have their own personality.
From Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Twitter feud with Raj to William Shatner’s flirting with Penny in a game of D&D., Each guest is used perfectly in the final season, to progress a story rather than be the focus of it.
Incorporating Young Sheldon
Whilst spin-offs are common to capitalise on a show’s popularity. They rarely live up to expectations no matter how colossal the original show (Friends spin-off Joey for example).
Yet not only has Young Sheldon proven successful, but it also provided a deeper insight into an already loved character. Helped by running simultaneously with The Big Bang Theory. Having Sheldon watch a video of his younger self and incorporating the cast of Young Sheldon gave the fans a fun moment between the two programs. All as the same character briefly fused the two worlds together.
Even though this was a massive flex from the show. Sheldon’s eidetic memory means he has no need to revisit old tapes. It’s admitted in the scene and played off as Sheldon’s narcissism to allow this unique meeting of the same character in two shows.
The pilot ended with the gag that Leonard and Penny’s children would be ‘smart and beautiful’. For the past 12 years, I always felt it would have been a missed opportunity if they never resolved on the same line.
Season 12 one up-ed that predictable ending with Sheldon’s heart-warming acceptance speech. When receiving his noble prize Sheldon delivers that line to the couple, bookending the two pillars of the program. Leonard’s and Penny’s relationship and Sheldon’s relationship with his friends.
The pay off
The final season of The Big Bang Theory managed to give the audience a reason to stay. This was done with the race to the Nobel Prize. All whilst creating the most satisfying moment in the history of the show when Leonard slaps Sheldon to prove he isn’t asleep.
We saw characters like Howard going from creepy scientist living with his mother to the astronaut-family man, becoming a topic for a children’s book. Raj becoming a successful astrophysicist and his own journey towards marriage. Each character in the show has their own achievements. Yet season 12 allows breathing room for emotional growth. It reflects the last decade of investment the audience has given to these characters.
Series 12 didn’t try to reinvent the wheel or throw an unexpected curveball to shock the audience. Instead, it played to its strengths and rewarded its viewers for sticking with it.
The final shot leaves the group eating dinner together, allowing us to return whenever we need some lighthearted viewing. The Big Bang Theory’ season 12 proves a TV show can grow with its audience in real-time, whilst maintaining its identity and concluding on top form.
That’s why the final season of The Big Bang Theory was the best. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our TV reviews HERE
Read IMDB information about The Big Bang theory HERE.
The Big Bang Theory is currently streaming on Netflix.
Cobra Kai Season 4 – Review
Cobra Kai season four is out now on Netflix and the All Valley is back and better than ever. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
It’s January, and new shows are popping up everywhere. This brings us to the show that I and my friends have been holding our breaths for: the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai! After three seasons, I wondered if there was anything left to mine from the Karate Kid lore or the Johnny/Daniel dynamic. I am happy to report that this might be my favourite season yet! It manages to not only expand upon the universe it has created, but to bring in a new villain, who is so bad that he threatens to outdo even John Kreese!
Season four sets us off where the third left off, with Johnny and Daniel having joined forces to fight Cobra Kai. Their friendship arc is the glue that holds this season together. The story focuses largely on whether they will be able to pull it together and make their partnership work. As in previous seasons, their relationship has its ups and downs. The stakes are heightened, however, as the season leads up to the All-Valley Tournament. A bet between the three senseis – Kreese, Daniel, and Johnny – means that losing the All Valley is losing the title of sensei.
This season explores the ways that both Johnny and Daniel work with the kids. It also examines the kids’ struggles as they prepare for the All Valley while dealing with conflict within the ever-changing network of friends and enemies in the dojos. Robbie has left juvenile hall and decided to join up with Cobra Kai as a means of inflicting revenge on both his dad and Daniel. Tori and Sam continue their rivalry. And John Reese’s old friend Terry Silver (of Karate Kid 3 fame) shows up to kick Cobra Kai into high gear.
Daniel’s son, Anthony, who has largely been absent until now, faces his own dilemma when his friends begin bullying Kenny, the new kid in town. This soft-spoken middle school character brings us into the world of the younger kids, setting up yet another storyline. Kenny becomes the victim of a gang of kids (including Anthony), enduring round after round of bullying before Robbie takes him under his wing. After his induction into Cobra Kai, the formerly shy middle-schooler becomes a bully himself.
Shades of grey
This brings me to one of my favourite things about the show. The constant back and forth dynamic between characters makes us feel that anything is possible. There is no black and white in the world of Cobra Kai. Where the Karate Kid told us that Daniel was good, and Johnny was bad, this show gives us a very different point of view. It’s a world where we’re never sure who to root for. In this season, we even see Hawk make a return to the “good guys” side after giving up his spot at Cobra Kai.
With Eagle Fang (Johnny’s new dojo) and Miyagi-Do teaming up, the kids – and the adults – have to learn to work together. Of course, complications ensue. Johnny becomes jealous of what he perceives as Miguel’s preference for Daniel over him. Sam wants to learn both her dad’s karate style and Johnny’s, despite her father’s discouragement. Meanwhile, at Cobra Kai, Kreese is losing his grip on the dojo. His former war buddy, Terry Silver, puts off a rather benign appearance in episode one, growing more and more evil with each episode.
This season is lacking in many of the big fight scenes of the previous seasons, instead choosing to focus their energy on the characters. The All Valley Tournament features several great karate matches and offers a satisfying conclusion to Johnny and Daniel’s arc. In the end, Cobra Kai takes the tournament win, but Johnny and Daniel have reached an understanding.
Tori defeats Sam to take the women’s All Valley trophy but later overhears her sensei paying off one of the referees. It’s clear that Cobra Kai has pulled yet another fast one. But the season ends on an even more ominous – and unexpected – note. Terry Silver assaults the over-aged former Cobra Kai member, Stingray, sending him to the hospital. He then makes a deal with Stingray to blame the crime on Kreese. We end the season with Kreese in handcuffs, Terry Silver set to take over Cobra Kai, and the future of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do uncertain. In a last shocking twist, Miguel leaves town in search of his biological father.
Although some may miss the school hallway throw downs, I found this one satisfying in a different way. It just goes to show that the ever-expanding Cobra Kai universe can keep bringing surprises season after season.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai season four. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out our Hawkeye episode one and two review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.
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