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TELEVISION REVIEW : TELEVISION & RADIO

Between the devil and the CIA: two comedies

'Chuck' on NBC and the CW's 'Reaper' share a successful formula.

September 24, 2007|Robert Lloyd | Times Staff Writer

Awkward young men also form the core of "Big Bang Theory," which begins tonight on CBS -- with "Back to You," one of only two new three-camera comedies this season. Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons play a pair of socially inept Caltech physicists who get a perky blond new neighbor in the person of waitress Kaley Cuoco.

Co-creator Chuck Lorre's previous strange-bedfellows comedies include "2 1/2 Men" and "Dharma & Greg," and that the leads are named Sheldon and Leonard, after the producer of "The Dick Van Dyke Show," is a clue to this one's mainstream ambitions. It's just the same joke endlessly repeated -- the everyday translated into geek-speak, and the obscure and difficult treated as if it were common knowledge ("It's just some quantum mechanics with a little string theory doodling around the edges"). It's not a bad joke -- it's like calling a swimming pool "a cement pond," and "The Beverly Hillbillies" got 274 episodes out of that -- but these are perilous times for sitcoms, and Lorre & Co. may want to think up another.

Meanwhile, there's some good work being done here; I especially liked Simon Helberg as a mop-topped would-be geek Lothario and young old-pro Cuoco ("8 Simple Rules . . . for Dating My Teenage Daughter" and, like, a million other things), who shapes her part into something human, not just a head full of air.

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robert.lloyd@latimes.com

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'Reaper'

When, where: 9 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, the CW

Rating: TV-PG DLV (may be unsuitable for young childen with advisories for strong dialogue, coarse language and violence)

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'Chuck'

When, where: 8 to 9 tonight, NBC

Rating: TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children)

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'The Big Bang Theory'

When, where: 8:30 to 9 tonight, CBS

Rating: TV-14 DL (may be unsuitable for children younger than 14 with advisories for coarse language and suggestive dialogue)

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