As the new season has already started airing on E4, we thought it would be a good idea to review the first two episodes of The Big Bang Theory, ‘The Date Night Variable’, and, ‘The Decoupling Fluctuation’.

Carrying on from last season’s finale of The Big Bang Theory, the first episode sees that Howard (Simon Helberg – Sabrina the Teenage Witch, A Cinderella Story) has married his fiancé Bernadette (Melissa Rauch – True Blood, The Office (US), Dirty Sexy Money) and gone to work on the International Space Station, causing arguments between his new wife and his mother about the living situation at home whilst orbiting the Earth. Meanwhile, Leonard (Johnny Galecki – Vanilla Sky, Roseanne) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco – 8 Simple Rules, Charmed) are still together, although things are little shaky since Leonard proposed during sex, and he tries to talk things out with her during an American Football game; always a good move when it comes to Penny.

Sheldon (Jim Parsons – Judging Amy) and Amy (Mayim Bialik – Beaches, Blossom) have their anniversary dinner, which goes chaotically wrong because Sheldon, as per usual, doesn’t really understand what is called for in this situation. Raj (Kunal Nayyar) throws several spanners in the works as he is invited by Sheldon to sit in on the dinner; he starts getting drunk with Penny, leading him to drunkenly reminisce about his fling with her. He ends up at the comic book store with Stuart (Kevin Sussman – Weeds, Ugly Betty, Sweet Home Alabama), and it is hinted that the two have a sexual encounter – something that is acknowledged in a humorous manner. This is a marvellous return to form after the last season’s dramatic finale, and allows for the integration of Howard’s space adventure whilst also covering the rest of the characters’ lives.

In the second episode, ‘The Decoupling Fluctuation’, Penny informs Amy and Bernadette that she is thinking of breaking up with Leonard, and all hell breaks loose. Whilst Sheldon accepts Stuart as a temporary replacement for Howard (who is currently being bullied by his colleagues on the International Space Station, to the point where his mother has to phone up NASA – a conversation we would have loved to have been party to), he is informed at the cinema about the conversation between Penny and Amy, and so feels morally obligated to tell Leonard. That, and he has a problem with keeping secrets. He attempts to tell Leonard several times, before resorting to waking Penny up and telling her how great Leonard is – something that causes her to realise that Amy has told him what is going on and ends in a hilarious three-way phone call. Penny resolves to sort her head out, but realises the two are better off together. Bernadette, however, gives Howard some advice that he really doesn’t take too well to.

This is a true representation of how this comedy works: Sheldon is an anally-retentive nut, who is consistently unable to do anything ‘human’, and has to intervene in everybody else’s lives; Leonard and Penny are trying to figure out how they are going to stay together and work as a couple; Raj is perpetually alone; and Bernadette is trying to work on Howard’s short-comings.

The best thing about this season of The Big Bang Theory, is that finally you have the true expansion of the group – the core cast who started the show, of just Leonard, Raj, Howard, Sheldon and Penny, has since been expanded to include all their partners. We feel bad for Raj because of his single status amongst a group of friends that are all happily coupled, but we’re glad that he uses the opportunity to experiment with his masculinity and explore the boundaries of his personality. This ‘metrosexual’ is definitely a favourite of ours, and we look forward to seeing his character develop further.

You can catch the new series of The Big Bang Theory on E4 at 8pm on Thursdays