The Big Brain Theory (2013 TV series) review…

The Big Brain Theory (2013 TV series) review after the break…

The Big Brain Theory (2013 TV series) review…

It has gotten to the point where I do not want to watch any television production that is not, in some way, a documentary. Yes, I am old.

THE BIG BRAIN THEORY is a game show (I can not bother to call these contrived contraptions “Reality TV” anymore) that pits ten intelligent engineers (not of the railroad persuasion) into two teams of five people each in order to build a mechanical device of one stripe or another. In the first episode, for example, the two teams had to build a device that would ensure that a package, being carried in a pick-up truck, would not explode if the pick-up was involved in a head-on collision.

Each engineer must initially impress two judges with their plans for the device. The top two engineers become team leaders and choose the rest of their teammates one at a time (similar to how gym teachers allow kids to pick out their teams for playing dodgeball). The two teams are not married to the design concepts that won the engineers their leadership. Each build seems to have varied amounts of time and money that can be spent on them. These designs are then placed into the field to be tested against one another. Whichever team fails is then taken to task for failing. Each team member on the losing team publicly must state who should be eliminated from the competition. The judges then confer and decide who will leave the competition.

THE BIG BRAIN THEORY, in brief, is nothing more than a snarkified version of a previous game show called “Junkyard Wars.” For the life of me, I can not figure out why producers seem enamored with attempting to manufacture Compelling. Human. Drama. out of perfectly serviceable game show concepts. Having ten capable engineers tackle a challenging design problem should be drama enough; How would someone avoid having a package explode? Yet, from the two episodes of the game show that I have seen thus far, the show is much more engrossed with creating tension between team members and showcasing the shortcomings of various contestants then concentrating on the actual designs themselves. For instance, in the first episode, one engineer asks another if he has calculated between two types of friction. Does the game show explain this? No. In another episode, a team member demonstrates considerable unprofessionalism by exhibiting a rather nasty (and violent) temper. In any other work environment, that person no longer is employed. On a game show, that contestant receives screen time.

Another shortcoming of the game show is the lack of test runs. Yes, there are no “test runs” when it comes to space vehicles like Mars rovers but in a game show that (supposedly) revolves around mechanical devices, not being able to test a device before a competition is just ridiculous. Has a programmer ever written a program perfectly their first time? Has a movie ever entered production with a first-draft script? Do sports teams not practice for an upcoming game? Are all scenes for scripted television filmed with only one “take”?

Finally, the judges do not seem to be very helpful. Do the judges give advice to the team (like a coach might during the halftime of a game)? No. A third “celebrity” judge is eventually introduced but also adds no substantive weight to the proceedings. The judges’ roles seem limited to: Picking out leaders, kicking out contestants and making slightly veiled snarky comments on the two teams’ progress to the viewers.

THE BIG BRAIN THEORY, despite the cranial upgrade in their contestants, has nothing significant to offer for those who want more substance with their style. How unfortunate; A show about “big brains” wants nothing to do with the intellect and more on who yells at who and for what reasons.


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