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'The Big Bang Theory' is ready to explode

Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) share

Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) share a kiss after he returns from the North Pole in the season-three premiere episode of "The Big Bang Theory" on Sept. 21, 2009. Photo Credit: CBS

"The Big Bang Theory"

WHEN | WHERE Monday at 9:30 on CBS/2

QUICK PRIMER This sitcom, entering its third season, is about four Caltech physicists who know how the universe is put together but haven't got a clue about women. And then one fateful day, Penny moves in across the hallway.

CATCHING UP Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) has convinced the boys to head to the North Pole with him to study magnetic monopoles; if he can discover them, proving String theory, a Nobel Prize is assured. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is upset to see them go because of a budding romantic something with Leonard (Johnny Galecki).

WHAT IT'S ABOUT The lads stagger back after three months. Their beards are so vast they nearly obscure their faces - with the exception of Sheldon, whose beard has filled out to a perfectly shaped goatee. They're exhausted, but Sheldon is euphoric; he's made his discovery, and a remarkable career lies ahead. Leonard, Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar) reveal the pole time was not pleasant, and Penny is ready to take this friendship with Leonard to another level.

BOTTOM LINE The Television Critics Association awarded "Bang" a best comedy award, and the reason is obvious - we're nerds. But we know a good thing when we see it, and "Bang" is one of the flat-out funniest sitcoms on commercial TV. If there is justice - and there probably is not - Parsons won best actor/comedy last night on the Emmys. His clipped nerdisms should become as much part of pop culture as anything from cooler realms of TV ("30 Rock," "Family Guy," "The Office").

Just about everything works, and CBS has positioned it, airing at 9:30 after "Two and a Half Men," for a breakout year. "Big Bang" has arrived.

GRADE A

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