'The Theorists': 'Big Bang Theory"s big Belarusian rip-off

Chuck Lorre has used the vanity cards at the end of his shows for a variety of purposes: complaining about CBS, commenting on racial politics, explaining science, and last night, he used a card to call out a Belarusian version of The Big Bang Theory.

According to the card, “…Belarus does have a bustling TV production industry. One of their most recent hits is a sitcom about four nerdy scientists who live next door to a beautiful blonde waitress. The characters are named Sheldon, Leo, Hovard, Raj and Natasha, and the show is entitled, The Theorists. Each episode begins with a rapid-fire montage of images which takes us from the dawn of time to the present moment. Keeping with that theme, the montage is scored with what is probably the worst piece of recorded pop music since the dawn of time. And finally, each episode appears to be a Russian translation of a Big Bang Theory episode.”

Judging from the photos on the show’s website and the way-too-familiar videos [via], it’s a blatantly obvious clone:

It’s also apparently unlicensed, and according to Lorre, “it’s next to impossible to sue for copyright infringement in Belarus because the TV production company that is ripping us off is owned and operated by the government of Belarus.”

The theft bugs me, certainly, but I’m almost more bothered by how old faux Walowitz and Leonard are. Yikes, PopWatchers.

Comments (104 total) Add your comment
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  • Juniper

    Wow! They are pretty old-looking! How are they getting away with this?! Someone better close that loophole, stat! Why can’t they just do an actual translation of BBT in Russian, instead of making a new show?

    • Kvivik

      What loophole? How can you stop a government run TV network from producing a rip off of an American show? No court in the world has jurisdiction in this case for them to persue legal action for copyright.
      They should just suck it up. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, you know.

      • Ricky

        How about increase import taxes on Belarusian products to repay the creators of the show.

        Or find some intellectual property owned by Belarus and blatantly rip it off, too. Eye for an eye.

      • Stephanie Tanner

        Let em have it, Big Bang Jumped the Shark this season as far as I am concerned. I have always been a big believer that most sitcoms peak at 3-4 seasons then hit a wall and go downhill. This show was solid for 2 seasons and now its stalled.

      • RSinohara

        Well, finding something worthy and ripping them off in return would be great, but by what I know about they cultural achievements and this casa in particular, I don’t think there is much to copy…

    • SM

      Belarus is a member of the Berne Convention, but not yet signatory to the TRIPS agreement. Technically, they are in violation of Berne, but there’s no effective remedial device. When they do sign TRIPS, the WTO will have jurisdiction over them, and any other member nation could file a dispute, and Belarus may be subject to sanctions.

      And that’s your international Intellectual Property Law lesson for the day.

      • Jane

        @SM: Oh my God. Go outside and get some fresh air. Now.

      • SM

        Sorry, can’t. Bar exam only 6 months away.

      • pdy

        Good luck on your bar exam then and stop your web surfing for the next six months. ;)

    • AmpleMan

      It would be more profitable and a better counter-strategy if the producers of BBT simply dubbed their shows in Russian, and flooded the market over there with DVDs and via the internet as “The Originals”. You can outfox the fox!

      • wymck

        And the problem is, the Belarus government would tax the import, take the tax money and make “Two And A Half Mensches”, or whatever the next hitch-hike is.

  • Kvivik

    So what? Every country that has broadcast television production companies has ripped off american tv shows since the dawn of television.
    I say ‘boo hoo’ to this guy. The Belorussian show will not make a dent in BBT’s DVD Europe sales.
    However, I think his use of Vanity Cards is AWESOME and inspired!

    • kevin

      So if someone stole from you, you wouldn’t care?

      • Kvivik

        I, living as I do in North America, would care because I know that I have protection in the Canadian and American court system to defend against someone plagerising/ripping off my work.
        My point is, he should get over it now that he’s made his point to the people, cause I don’t think the American government is going to make this an international issue anytime soon.

      • dave

        If I were as wealthy as Chuck Lorre and the person ripping me off was the Belarussian Government, yeah, I’d get over it.

      • Tesnea

        “I don’t think American government is going to make this an international issue anityme soon”.

        That would be the most stupid international issue of the history. Pictures that, in 2040…In history class
        “USA and Belarusia fight because of Belarusia ripp off a sitcom called “The Big Bang Theory” “.

    • Tom

      He wasn’t complaining. He was making a joke. You’d know that if you had read what the guy had written instead of trolling around these boards.

      He wasn’t whining.

    • Tone

      It works both ways. Americans aren’t the only ones who come up with tv IP’s. We usually pay for ours (ex: The Office, American Idol…)

    • wymck

      Of course the USA networks are the worst (and/or the best) at these rip-offs. One network made “The Munsters,” the other network made “The Addams Family.” One network made “I Dream of Jeannie,” the other network made “Bewitched.” There’s “The Honeymooners,” and “The Flintstones.”

      “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” ushered in a load of new game shows.

      “Survivor” ushered in a plethora of new reality TV shows.

      Looks like make-it-take-it is the way to go with the TV game.

  • Phionaugh

    He should rip off one of Belurus’ beloved shows, “Milking Yaks with Yakov Smirnov” and call it “Milking Yaks with Yakov Smirnov.” That guys needs a break.

    • WMW

      Haha, yaks in Europe, haha :))
      Anyway, you can not force any state’s government to do anything unless you are a bunch of states that are doing bussiness with it. No matter what treaties they signed, if you can not force them economically or by war, you can not force them at all. And there won’t be anz sanctions or wars, that might be a little overreacting, hm? :))

    • CalvinistHobbesian

      In Belarus, yak milks you!

  • Kate

    Come on Chuck Lorre, what else does Belarus have going for them? It’s clearly a blatant rip-off, but what harm does it do Lorre for a pale imitation to exist in a country that has almost zero pop cultural influence on the global scale? He needs the $$? Let it go buddy; with everything that’s going on in the world, this strikes me as one of the most unimportant issues out there.
    These vanity cards have bugged me before, cause he often uses them to whine and complain about things. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find them annoying and self-important.

    • RyanK

      They’re only on the screen for a second. Nobody’s making you stop the DVR to watch them.

      • Kate

        I guess that means I can’t find them annoying and self-important. Thanks for letting me know how I can and cannot feel. I have stopped pausing my DVR to watch precisely for that reason.

      • Nicotine

        As facetious as that statement might be, that doesn’t change the fact that RyanK is right. If those vanity cards are so bothersome, why pay attention to them at all? Why complain about anything that you have complete control over?

      • Kate

        Why can’t I have an opinion about something I have control over? I guess we should all just comment about things we can’t change – don’t dare form an opinion about something you have control over people! This is absurd. This is a comment board. The post mentioned vanity cards, about which I have an opinion. I can post it, whether or not I have to watch it. You don’t have to read my comments – in fact, you have complete control over whether or not you read my posts. Why complain about something you have complete control over? Oh the hypocrisy.

      • Tom

        Because Kate is a complainer, guys. That’s how she gets through life.

      • Nicotine

        Hypocrisy works both ways. You call me a hypocrite for taking offense to your opinion, yet you’re taking offense to mine. You don’t have to read my comments, much like I don’t have to read yours. This is a comment board, filled to the brim with comments meant to be read. If your offense is with my comments, or anyone’s comments, why do you read the board at all? If you reply to this, then you yourself will be a hypocrite as well.

    • Tom

      He wasn’t asking for money. He was asking for felt hats because he was MAKING a JOKE! You humorless twits are driving me crazy today.

      • Kate

        What about the blog conveys this fact? The blog doesn’t mention anything about it being a joke. Please explain how we are to know it (especially if like I have already explained, I no longer pause and read the vanity cards). You self-important twits are driving me crazy today.

      • Tom

        Well, Kate, that’s what you get when you go off half-cocked based on the limited information found in a blog. Sounds to me like you should have done a little research on the subject before you completely mischaracterized the guy.

        The blog never said that he wanted money, so again, you jumped to conclusions. It didn’t say we wanted money or that he didn’t want money. That all came from YOUR little mind.

        I’d make the old joke about what happens when we “assume” things, but based on what you’ve written, I am *sure* you’re already familiar with it.

      • Sue1

        If you read the whole card (which might be a necessity when making a judgment), it’s obviously a joke.

      • psyche

        i actually paused my DVR last night. my take was that it was probably part joke, part annoyance, because he said he contacted the legal dept and they said he could do nothing (and who contacts legal about things they find funny) so he said he was using the vanity card to guilt Belarus into sending him a felt hat. which i thought was funny.

        i write terrible books that i’ve never even tried to publish in my spare time. i would still be upset if someone stole them, renamed the characters and tried to make money off of it (even though I make a decent living as an accountant) but maybe that’s just me.

    • Gabby

      “Let it go buddy; with everything that’s going on in the world, this strikes me as one of the most unimportant issues out there.”

      Well, Kate, this strikes me as a horrible argument: “There are worse things going in the world, so you shouldn’t be upset about a blatant case of plagiarism.”
      I’ll use that excuse whenever I rear-end someone: “Hey, let’s not call the insurance companies…in the grand scheme of things there are SO many more important things going on in the world now!”
      I think the creators are just humorously commiserating that they don’t have any legal recourse to protect their intellectual property, which admittedly sucks. But it doesn’t sound to me like they’re being hysterical or blowing things out of proportion, so no need to be so vexed about it.

      • Vic

        Well said, Gabby!

      • Kate

        Don’t really understand the hate that’s being thrown my way for disliking vanity cards (apparently they got a lot of fans out there!). But as to my actual argument, this is a really good point. I guess I was just thinking what how ridiculous it would be if this were to become an international issue (although not without humour). But you’re right, it doesn’t negate the right of the creators to be upset and they aren’t taking it seriously, so my initial reaction was an overreact for sure.

  • MsSuniDaze

    Wow. That show looks horid. I don’t even have to speak Russian to know it’s not funny at all. Seems like the audience figured that out to since there is hardly any laughing. And the guys are scary old.

    • fh

      You mean that they don’t play the laughter samples often enough?

  • Long Balls

    I think the Belarusians (?) should make a porno version of BBT. THAT would get some airtime.

  • holiday07

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  • Prady Fan

    chuck lorre is smug and self serving. The real creator behind Big Bang Theory is actually Mr Prady. He is the fellow with the nerd and comic book history who approached Lorre for the show. Lorre has the money and so natch he puts his fat ass first whenever he can.

    • Tom

      So what you are saying is that the show wouldn’t exist without Chuck Lorre because he got the money together to make it happen. You should be grateful.

      • Jack

        actually Tom Chuck Lorre should be thankful to his friend Bill Prady. Prady has a computer IT background and based the idea on his nerdy friends he met in that industry and the comic book fans he knew. Chuck Lorre has stated he is thankful for Prady!

      • Jack

        He didn’t say he wasn’t gratefull –rather that its Prady’s ideas that make the show. Lorre himself never said otherwise.

      • Hal 2000

        quote from the wikipedia page:
        “Prady is responsible for adding nerd elements of his show, The Big Bang Theory, as he was a former employee at a software company”.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Prady

        also: (more quotes):
        “Prady had been working as a computer programmer. His colleagues possessed great mental abilities, but experienced some difficulty working “in the world that we all know.” This is the primary dilemma that the shows’ protagonists face in their everyday lives.”
        from: http://www.buddytv.com/articles/the-big-bang-theory/chuck-lorre-says-the-big-bang-10909.aspx

        The nerd/fanboy and science elements ARE the show. Also the science elements are Proffessor Saltzman’s addition. You can read his blog at “The Big Blog Theory” blogspot.
        along with writers who are current with the dc comics (prady has stated in his interviews his knowledge and love of DC ends in the Silver Age) the show is a hit.

        Lore might be smug but he is not stupid he knows its Prady who is the nerdy inspiration. I think what irks people is his vanity cards seem to ignore this fact. I move for some Prady vanity cards!!

      • Wolowizard

        Tom perhaps Mr. Lorre should be grateful since now he’ll get even more money with this success?
        And providing the funding for something doesn’t mean you should ignore the reason for the success.

    • Kate

      Thank you! I’ve always wondered how the creator of one of the most derivative and unfunny shows on TV (2 1/2 Men) came up with something as clever and belly-laugh inducing as TBBT. That makes a lot more sense.

      • BB Fan

        I’d wondered the same thing! The sight of Charlie Sheen’s smug face on screen, even for a second, makes me run for the remote. I can’t believe how well that show does. TBBT is light years ahead of the other Lorre show.

      • JMB

        ITA. Charlie Sheen’s face is smug because he can only make one expression. I guess he didn’t listen to his mom and his face froze that way.

  • SexyNoob

    damn, even the setup of the living room is the same.. =/

  • JLC

    Are we sure The Theorists isn’t viral? It looks like it was directed by the same guys that do TBBT.

    • I hate Kate

      Seriously Kate. You actually have the audacity to say “Thanks for letting me know how I can and cannot feel.” When you are making a comment about how CHUCK LORRE shouldn’t voice his opinion on his vanity cards. Is the hypocrisy lost on you? How do you even know how to type?

      • draker

        OK, come on, seriously now. Kate may be quick to anger and make a hurried response, but you haters (and nicotine who is barely comprehensible) are seriously confused. Kate never said anything close to “chuck lorre shouldn’t voice his opinion”. What she said was:
        “I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find them annoying and self-important.”
        In other words, voicing an opinion. There’s no hypocrisy. Chuck Lorre can say that he thinks Kate is self-important and annoying. No big deal.

  • Matt

    Belarus should copy Two and a Half Men next….or better yet, they can have the original!

  • Meet To!

    Dont forget that she said this “These vanity cards have bugged me before, cause he often uses them to whine and complain about things. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I find them annoying and self-important.”

    Her POST buggs me cause she uses it to “whine and complain” and I find it “annoying and self-important”

  • Brian Cantor

    To me, this seems like a parody, possibly done by Lorre & Co.

  • Sherry

    Those Belarusian Actors look old as dirt, and I cannot imagine how they are hitting a target market with such geezers playing these roles. I love Big Bang theory and look forward to it and Chuck Lorre’s Vanity Cards each week.

  • wooster182

    This isn’t plagiarism. The girl’s name is Natasha. It’s a totally different show. ;)
    Now, can we discuss the fact that The Mentalist is a blatant ripoff of Psych without little to no upset while it gets award nominations and the original show gets bupkus?

    • Sue1

      Very good point.

    • El Santo

      No, you can’t. Because unlike Psych, The Mentalist is awesome.

      • Ricky

        No, they’re exactly the same. Except for one key factor: production funding.

        The premise is exactly the same for both shows, but one has a much bigger budget. Hence, the higher quality for The Mentalist vs Psych.

    • Jax

      FAIL! this is a myth that has already been debunked. Check out wiki entries on The Mentalist and the failure that is psych

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