OK, so I'm a latecomer to this show... which surprises me! I mean, I'd been hearing throughout the blogosphere and elsewhere how this was the sitcom to watch for geeks like myself, yet I didn't start recording the show on our digital video recorder until just before the new season started... but now I (and wife Jessi) are hooked!
I love the characters... I identify personally most with Leonard (especially when catching up on the first two seasons), although Sheldon is probably the funniest of the characters (and I probably have more than a few Sheldon traits, to be honest). Raj is kind of limited with his inability to talk around attractive women, but he has good screen time with Howard, the self-proclaimed ladies man (who's more creepy than anyone else). And of course, there's the adorable, if somewhat sarcastic, Penny, who is absorbing more geek than she's truly aware of.
As I noted, I caught up with the first two seasons of the show... and I have to admit that I didn't do this by buying or renting the DVD sets, but rather Googled for it and found the series on various video sites which did not have legal permission to present them.
I would have loved to have watched them all on legally-available sites, such as on CBS.com or even Hulu.com, but nobody at either site seems to have caught on to the idea that it's a good idea to have previous seasons of a currently-showing TV series available for watching for latecomers like myself. In these days when fewer and fewer people are giving a new series a chance (which results in some really good shows dying before their time), it would be smart if the networks would make all previous seasons available on their sites for shows that make it past the freshman season! Or even just the previous season or two, for that matter. No matter how high the ratings of a show are, it can always use more viewers, you know?
True, for some shows that we've recently started watching (like Criminal Minds or Bones, for example), these shows are in syndicated reruns, making it easy to catch up quickly (which we did for Monk, NCIS, and a few other shows)... but even then, I would still argue it's smart to keep them online as well... if for no other reason than new viewers could catch up in order. We're still trying to figure out the order of continuity for some aspects of Bones, and I think we've seen all the episodes!
Now, I can imagine the networks would claim that they can't handle having that much content available on their websites, or it would overload their servers... but you know, those pirate sites have a lot of streaming video available, and it doesn't seem to be causing that big a problem there!
Digressing now... but I also strongly believe that shows that aren't being shown now should also be available online, too... if for no other reason than to keep those programs "alive," if you will. For example... what if you decide that you're in the mood to watch the original Jonny Quest, but don't want to pay out the money for the DVDs (which aren't available in all stores)? You can't go to the Boomerang website to watch those or most of the other older Hanna-Barbera shows. Occasionally, some of these show up on YouTube, but can be taken down fairly quickly (as I've been learning, to my chagrin, with my Saturday Morning Superstars blog). I've read that the reason there's not a DVD release of The Banana Splits is because the films of the show aren't of sufficient quality for DVD... but they'd probably be fine for the Internet. And advertising can help offset the cost of putting these online.
Even with the proliferation of cable channels out there, I'd imagine that just about everyone has at least one or two TV shows from the past they'd love to see again but aren't being shown anywhere... and DVDs can get expensive, especially if you really just want to see them one more time each. Certainly putting these shows online is cheaper than the production involved with DVDs, and all the profits from this would go right to whoever owns them (plus the site owners, if they aren't the same). It wouldn't take too much marketing to make it known these shows were available to view online (heck, I'd be happy to promote them here and on my other blogs as appropriate once I was alerted to it)! And it would be especially smart if they were to have ads for DVD sets of the shows next to the videos -- it could easily spark sales, especially if they didn't scrimp on the extras.
Anyway, that's my two cents on it... I could go on and on, but you'd probably tire of it!