By Henry Goldblatt
Updated October 12, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Greg Gayne

Battlestar Galactica, Klingon Boggle, and a 1974 Stephen Hawking lecture are all mentioned in The Big Bang Theory premiere. They have one other trait in common, too: They’re all more pleasurable ways of spending your time than this lamebrained sitcom.

Leonard (Roseanne‘s Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) are nerdy physicists whose fingers seem to have left their noses just moments ago. Across the hall is Penny (8 Simple Rules‘ Kaley Cuoco), a blond bimbo who doffs her clothes in the first 15 minutes of the pilot and works at the Cheesecake Factory — the mere mention of her career choice is apparently guffaw-worthy, according to the laugh track. Throw in Leonard’s Beauty and the Geek crush on Penny and you’ve pretty much got the premise. To call this a one-joke sitcom would be a stretch.

Even if you’re not sensitive to Cheesecake Factory barbs, there’s not much to like here. The dialogue — ”I can’t look at you or your avatar right now” — falls flat. A few episodes in, the writers are already performing acrobatics with the script in order to get Penny and the dorkasauruses to mouth-breathe the same air. As for the plotting (Sheldon insults his boss, Sheldon is fired, Sheldon is rehired), let’s just say you don’t need an advanced degree to follow it.

The cast is apt enough; Parsons, in particular, does a nice take on Frasier‘s Niles. But overall, Leonard and Sheldon earn a grade they’ve probably never seen before. C-

Episode Recaps

The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj, and Wolowitz, Amy, Bernadette—the gang keeps growing. Bazinga!

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