Big Bang Goes Ahead of Where Oscar Hasn’t Gone Before

Tonight at 8.35 TV2 will air an hour ahead of TV3’s highly anticipated new drama Harry the highest-rating Big Bang Theory episode in US TV history.

The Bakersfield Expedition was the first BBT episode in the show’s six-year run to top a stratospheric 20 million viewers.

It strands Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj in the desert dressed up as Star Trek: Next Generation characters en route to a comics convention while back home Amy, Penny and Bernadette go where “no woman has gone before”: into Stuart’s comic book shop to better understand what makes their beloved geeks tick.

The most-watched US broadcast previously was last week’s The Egg Salad Equivalency but top TV bloggers thought Bakersfield not as enterprising as it sounds.

“Last week gave us one of this show’s best episodes, and The Bakersfield Expedition is one of the worst, not just because its offensive and completely out of touch with nerd culture, but because it’s an incredibly lazy story,” said The AV Club.

IGN dubbed it “a downbeat little episode where our heroes are punished for being dorky” and “just annoying and severely lazy in its humour”.

However, TV Fanatic thought it “hilarious” and “right up there with The Re-Entry Minimization and The Parking Lot Escalation” — although an upcoming guest stint by Bob Newhart promises to be the most entertaining episode yet (even if its 16.3 million US viewers couldn’t match Bakersfield’s pulling power).

Bakersfield screens midway through BBT’s highest-rating run yet on TV2 and will help to keep viewers tuned to the network on a night that TV3 is taking a punt on showcasing Kiwi comic Oscar Kightley’s dark side in the new six-part crime drama Harry.

NZ Herald critics have been among the show’s biggest cheerleaders. “Harry gets top marks for style as well as substance,” Sarah Lang wrote in Sunday’s edition.

“The handheld camera and grainy look give the show an almost documentary realism … This opening episode sets the scene well, introduces the characters, and reveals just enough of the storyline to intrigue us.”

Fellow Herald on Sunday critic Nick Grant has been equally enthusiastic while the daily paper’s Time Out team recommended as it one of this week’s top five picks.

“Created by Steven O’Meagher (Out of the Blue, This Is Not My Life), the series is action-packed, gritty and intense, with storylines inspired by real events and news reports from the past 10 years.”

And a Sunday Star Times profile of Kightley, who co-wrote the series, predicted, on the strength of a rough cut of the premiere, “it’s going to be gritty, downbeat stuff – something more for fans of The Wire or Cracker than of CSI, NCIS

“The crims are scary and their acts brutal. The first episode is filmed beautifully, but mainly with the lights off, and both Kightley and the city of Auckland look exhausted and miserable.”

Given how TV3’s last local crime drama, Underbelly NZ, flopped, and its most recent commission, The Blue Rose, quickly wilted, it’s not surprising the network is launching Harry in a 9.30 slot.

But if the previews are correct, it sounds like a series it should have taken a chance on after The X Factor NZ.

True, both TV2 and TV3 have struggled to make series drama rate in their traditional Sunday movie slots, and Monday’s already established crime turf with TV One’s Criminal Minds.

But Harry’s point of difference, the marquee appeal of Kightley and co-star Sam Neill, savvy promotion and X Factor’s popularity would have given Harry a better jump start than 3rd Degree.

While Harry will screen in the slot vacated by one of TV3’s most popular crime drama, Sons of Anarchy, the under-performing current affairs lead-in won’t do it any ratings favours — despite publicity about one of the co-hosts’ “getting-stoned-on-air” stunt and tonight’s episode recruiting reporter Samantha Hayes for what’s scarcely going to be a hard-hitting interview of Richard “Hannibal” Hayes, the legendary helicopter hero who’s also her uncle.

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One Response to “Big Bang Goes Ahead of Where Oscar Hasn’t Gone Before”

  1. I don’t get BBT. Not at all funny.

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