‘The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius’ premiere review: Does science = successful TV?

Big Brain TheoryWhen we first heard about a competition that featured intellectuals competing to see who was the best of the best, there was one question on our mind: Is this “King of the Nerds”? Only kidding, and as a love of all things geeky, this is a compliment anyway. “The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius” is basically a show tailor-made for Discovery. It’s like “Mythbusters” meets “Top Chef” and one of those physics educational videos that you watched in high school.

For those of you who missed the premiere and want a reason to check it out in some form in the next week, the basic premise is this: Some top young minds are competing to become known as America’s next great innovator, and for a chance to not only win a cash prize, but receive a prestigious job offer at WET, and a company founded by judge Mark Fuller (who we spoke with recently) that is all about innovation. There are two teams, and every week they have to try and solve a problem with some real-world applications. The judges ultimately pick a weak link, and that person no longer competes.

However, the twist here is that eliminated contestants stick around, and have to help the teams still competing complete certain tasks. It’s a little change-up, and in some ways it gives you another shot at redemption.

We won’t sit here and proclaim ourselves to be masters of anything related to science, mostly because we’re not those types of geeks, but what we do know quite a bit about is good reality television. “The Big Brain Theory” has quite a bit going for it that a show like this needs. There is some conflict between the contestants, the judges know their stuff, and Kal Penn is an engaging host that actually seems to be invested in the contestants and their objectives. While we wish that there was more focus on the results and a little less on the process (mostly because it became a little too drawn-out), it it was an educational experience without really feeling much like one.

The basic objective this week was to keep an explosive rigged into the back of a truck from exploding, and the irony is for the first week that both teams failed with their builds. However, there was still one person who needed to go home, and that was one of the “leaders” (appointed thanks to a math challenge, similar in some ways to a “Top Chef” quickfire) in Joe. He had submitted defeat, rather than dealing with strong personalities, and this attitude was not rewarded.

What was your take on “The Big Brain Theory,” and do you think that this is a show you plan on watching moving forward? If you want to read more from our chat with Fuller and Kal Penn, be sure to click here.

Photo: Discovery

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