For one, while the commotion caused by Sheldon's disappearance does shake the boat some, it isn't long before he and Amy (Mayim Bialik) are not just back together, but actually progressing in their relationship. Meanwhile, even though Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) got engaged, they have not set a date yet, and this topic comes up regularly throughout the season. Also, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) introduces everyone to his new girlfriend, Emily (Laura Spencer), whose dark sense of humor often leaves Raj feeling a little uncomfortable. Meanwhile Howard (Simon Helberg) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) seem to be doing well, but Howard's biggest issues seem to stem from Stuart (Kevin Sussman) still living with Mrs. Wolowitz (Carol Ann Susi), even though he should be able to get back on his feet soon, following his comic show burning down.
There are a few events that happen this season that come up somewhat regularly. While Raj's girlfriend and Leonard and Penny's engagement are among them, there are two events that overshadow pretty much everything else. One is a paper that Leonard and Sheldon work on together. This paper involves thinking about the Universe in a different way and it gets picked up in a few major journals. The other major event is the result of Carol Ann Susi's death after the filming of "The Prom Equivalency." In a sudden and sad event, the main characters learn of Mrs. Wolowitz's death at the end of an episode, and while the show sticks to its comedic roots, the repercussions of Howard's loss goes on for several episodes.
While the death of Mrs. Wolowitz does put a damper on some of the season's lighthearted comedy, there are still plenty of laughs to be had in every episode. Early in the season, Penny gets a job at Bernadette's company as a pharmaceutical sales representative, and as a result of her flirty sales technique, she catches the eye of Dr. Lorvis (Billy Bob Thonton). Dr. Lorvis is an extreme introvert who seems to read much more into people's actions than they intend. When he finds out that Penny is engaged, instead of being turned away, the guys invite him in to talk. They quickly find they have a lot in common with this meek urologist and also learn of his vast collection of collectibles, most of which are gifts from celebrities he has had as patients.
In another episode, Mary Cooper (Laurie Metcalf) and Beverly Hofstadter (Christine Baranski) finally meet, and the two mothers don't get along all that well, at least not at first. Other guest stars this season include Stephen Hawking, Stephen Root, Nathan Fillion, LaVar Burton and Wil Wheaton. That last is always a fun recurring character, and this time Wheaton is interviewing Penny on his podcast about the movie they did together last season, Serial Ape-ist 2. During the podcast, Kevin Smith calls asking why Penny doesn't audition anymore, and the result is an on-air fight between Leonard and Penny about how their relationship has changed since she got a good paying job.
This season's special features include the 2014 Comic-Con panel that includes the show's writing staff. I found this to be really interesting since most panels seem to focus heavily on the actors, but this particular panel added a different style of insight into the series. The Blu-ray release also comes with a featurette focusing on Billy Bob Thornton's guest appearance, as well as one about the winners of last years The Big Bang Theory Superfans competition.
There is also a special feature focusing on Cuoco-Sweeting, Chuck Lorre and Parsons getting their Hollywood Walk of Fame stars, but what is probably the most touching extra on this release is a farewell to Susi as the cast and crew talk about their experiences with the woman and share various stories from their time together.
The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eighth Season has a lot of good moments in it that are sure to make any fan happy. This, coupled with the somber, but eventful passing of Susi/Mrs. Wolowitz, as well as a few other critical events, make this a season where some real changes occur (unlike a lot of past seasons where nothing really changed). Even if you are only a casual fan of the series, Season Eight is a big one to watch.