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The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory is a comedy about two physicists Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper who live and work together in Pasadena, California. They live a comfortable geeky existence until attractive wannabe actress Penny moves in across the hall. CBS 2007-???

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Episode 11 - The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Wizard physicist and all round hunk David Underhill starts working with Leonard. He soon asks Penny out much to Leonard’s distress. He confronts Penny about why she isn’t with him and discovers David was married and Penny kicked him out. Meanwhile Sheldon heads to the mall to find a Christmas present which can adequately reciprocate whatever gift Penny gives him. He ends up buying a range of gift baskets so his options are covered. When she gives him a napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy, he gives her all the baskets and a hug.

The Good: This is about as good as it gets for The Big Bang Theory. The balance between the stories is spot on and the characters all shine. Leonard and Penny advance their relationship while Sheldon handles the jokes, the right balance for this particular universe.

Amazingly the writers pick up on their own inadequate writing and make it seem more acceptable. In episode one of season two Penny confessed that she thought Leonard was too smart for her to be with. It was never fully explored or explained and their budding relationship drifted out of contention. Now when David begins romancing Penny, Leonard confronts her about her excuses. Not only is it good continuity but it feels very real. Leonard doesn’t know how to seduce Penny so he clings to the excuse she gave him and tries to force her to admit the truth instead. She sees right through him but is affectionate to his neediness and again forwards the story that they will one day find happiness together. The final scene caps that off nicely when they give each other Christmas presents mocking one another for how they both got taken in by David’s coolness. The mocking helps make them seem more like equals and that equality is what they need if their relationship is to be believable.

Leonard’s asides about his leg being hurt are a nice touch too. It’s a simple joke and the payoff is nice too because he finally gets Penny to ask him how he is again showing the strength of their friendship.

Meanwhile Sheldon handles the humour with his usual skill ably assisted by Howard griping at him. Sheldon is characterised well when he points out to Penny that you “You haven’t given me a gift; you’ve given me an obligation.” It’s a statement we can all relate to over those people you have to give gifts to and so it’s not a stretch to imagine how Sheldon would feel about all gifts. He then irritates Howard and Raj with his logic and some nice gags like making them carry all the heavier baskets. His logic does make his humour very plausible. He doesn’t know what the gift basket would say to Penny so he asks the woman in the store “Are we friends? Colleagues? Lovers? Are you my grandmother?”

The final scene is an absolute highlight, particularly for Sheldon’s acting. He will probably never receive awards but there is huge skill in believably portraying a character so divorced from normal behaviour. Sheldon crying with joy and excitement at Leonard Nimoy’s DNA being on a napkin is tremendous stuff. Sheldon’s subsequent hug of Penny is a really nice character moment, again on their journey of becoming real friends one day. Perhaps just as funny is smug Sheldon revelling in his cunning plan (of nipping into the other room to select the appropriate gift basket) as he warns her “I should note, I’m having some digestive distress, so if I excuse myself abruptly, don’t be alarmed.”

Even the opening scene is fun as the guys argue over how Superman does his laundry. When Raj makes a joke about Kryptonian mustard, Leonard interjects with “Raj, please let’s stay serious here.”

The Bad: The David Underhill character is pretty generic and his story seems to end abruptly only three quarters through the episode.

Comic Highlight: Nothing obviously stands out, there are lots of nice jokes of about the same quality. For simplicity I enjoyed Leonard leaning on his door as he watches Penny and David walk away. His leaning creates a slight knock and Sheldon soon opens the door sending Leonard crashing to the floor. “Did you forget your key?”

In Conclusion: As a Christmas episode this definitely contains the feel good factor but more than that it is the best episode this season. Combining character development and humour in a blend which this show can do really well.

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Comments

  • I had forgotten I had said that. I was pleased Jim Parsons was an Emmy and you are of course correct that he was given plenty to work with.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 21/03/2011 11:16am (8 years ago)

  • I am glad you were wrong in your prediction that Jim Parsons would probably not win an award. Of course, just like how in the NBA it is easy to win the scoring title when you are given the ball every single possession, the fact that he is in virtually every single scene and every plot makes it hard to not notice him. But he is a talented actor that makes a great character very fun to watch.

    That Superman scene was very good. They were arguing about a comic book character, but they were arguing seriously, and the joke was unappreciated. The confused and frustrated reaction Raj has is perfect.

    Posted by Onimusha, 21/03/2011 2:51am (8 years ago)

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