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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sitcom's Biggest Bang

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey

It was a slow evening.  Cheryl had gone out for the evening with one of her friends and I had found myself in the classic squeeze of entertainment poverty.  Out of some 200 available channels on crystal clear digital satellite television, there wasn’t a single thing worth watching.  I had long ago exhausted my prurient fascination with reality shows.  The games on the Connecticut sports channel’s family were either blowouts or involved teams I didn’t care about.  Even the old standby, Law & Order, was an episode I had seen enough times to have the dialogue committed to memory.  Of all the science-oriented channels there wasn’t a single one running a program on planetary apocalypse.  My evening just isn’t complete without an image of a giant asteroid crashing into Cleveland, a deadly gamma ray burst, a super volcano eruption, or a magnitude 15 earthquake.  Or at least the computer-generated recreation of same.   Normally this would be a night I would pull out the Godfather and watch that classic of American cinema.  But Cheryl would not be gone long enough to watch even one of the three movies, and she and I have a long-standing agreement that I can only watch those movies when she’s not there.  Being a man of honor, I chose to leave Marlon and the boys in their sleeves.
Wandering over to TBS, I saw they were running back-to-back-to-back episodes of the comedy show “The Big Bang Theory.”  I had heard of this show, but hadn’t ever watched it, for several reasons.  First of all, sitcoms generally bore me to tears.  The scripts are predictable, the humor contrived and uncreative, being overly dependent on bodily functions.  Besides, they never featured crashing asteroids.  The last TV series I watched regularly was Gilmore Girls.  The writing featured the creative fast-paced bang-bang type of humor I fell in love with during the early years of “Moonlighting.”  So having nothing to do, and the balance of the evening to do it in, I decided to tune in.
The show, in case you’re as clueless as I, is a buddy show about four scientists, all sharing an apartment building and outrageous idiosyncrasies.  Across the hall, lives a waitress who sort of plays the Pat Priest to this clan of Munster-ish geeks.  The lead character, whose name is Sheldon, is the most brilliant of the four, and naturally the most odd.  While he is clearly the star, all four mesh together in a sort of black shoe and white sock ballet of wit and weirdness.  Most of my friends have tended towards the odd side of humanity, so naturally I was drawn in to their strange little world. 
The other thing that caught my fancy was the common references to science fiction and the comic book world.  Throughout my life I’ve had a fascination with space and space travel.  This was fed by the U.S. space program which was firing up about the time I turned 5 years old.  In fact, one of my earliest memories was listening to Alan Shepherd’s suborbital flight on the radio.  Yes, the radio; a massive oak-encased Motorola that must have weighed 200 pounds, if it was an ounce.  So naturally, when we finally did get our first television, something with a screen about the size of a large smart phone, I was front and center for every sci-fi show there was.  The first one I remember was a stiffly drawn show called “Space Angel.”  Then came Fireball XL-5.  Somewhere in there were re-runs of Buck Rogers.  I read everything by Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov.  Of course I was a Star Trek fan.  Still am, although I’ve never owned or worn a single pair of ears.  I do ride a model of motorcycle called “Vulcan” but that's just coincidence.  At least I think so.  Like many others, I was also entranced by the heroic quality of Star Wars, especially the incredible special effects.
So when these characters spit out the references to those shows, I get them.  Given the uber-oddness of the cast, I’m not sure whether I’m proud of that or not.  Still, I’ve always admired intelligence, regardless of the off-kilter character of the packaging.  So I became a fan of Big Bang Theory.  I get the stories because I’ve always felt like the weird one in whatever group I was in, like I never really fit in. 
Big Bang Theory is a funny show, well-written and paced, and the cast fits their characters like a well designed space glove.  While it hasn’t been elevated to DVR status yet, I’ll still catch it whenever I can.  These days, something which is that creative and makes me laugh out loud, is worth 30 minutes of my time.  And after years of watching inhumanly pretty actors in boringly repetitive plots, BBT is a breath of fresh air. 
They are, I dare to say, my kind of people.
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