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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 5 - The Euclid Alternative

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Leonard is working nights at the university and can’t drive Sheldon to work. Sheldon alienates all his possible chuffers and fails to learn to drive.

The Good: The humour throughout is solid and fits the characters involved. Sheldon taking on the DMV is pretty fun (see Comic Highlight). Sheldon playing a car game with Penny and taking her side of it throughout until “she” wins is typically amusing writing. Penny hitting Sheldon in the face to simulate an air bag (and him being grateful) fits both characters very well. The silly simulator-is-so-detailed-it-has-a-pet-store is a nice tongue-in-cheek joke and they acknowledge it well.

The Bad: The plot on the other hand is poor. Again we get way too much Sheldon. There is only so much one can take before he becomes tiresome. The fact that he refuses to learn to drive means the entire episode accomplishes nothing. Not that every comedy episode has to make a point, but this one reinforces the lack of character development. After twenty minutes of Sheldon overkill we know now that we will probably get even more next week.

The story of Sheldon being incapable of driving is another old sit com story. And just like Joey not being able to speak French (Friends 1013) or Frasier being unable to cycle (Frasier 1016), I hated it. It doesn’t strike a resonance with real life, where normal intelligent people can learn to at least get by on difficult tasks. But more than that it smacks of desperation in a comedy to resort to the relentless humiliation of a character on such a flimsy premise. In Sheldon’s case the focus isn’t so much on him crashing the simulator as it is on his refusal to adapt to other people. But it is still annoying. The episode feels like the writers stretching and stretching the same point about Sheldon.

Comic Highlight: Sheldon getting his learners permit by using his superior knowledge to frustrate the DMV lady: “Look, question two: When are road ways most slippery? Now ok, there are three answers, none of which are correct. The correct answer is – when covered by a film of liquid sufficient to reduce the coefficient to static friction between the tyre and the road to essentially zero but not so deep as to introduce a new source of friction.” The detail and thought behind these jokes is what’s keeping this show so watchable.

In Conclusion: I am losing faith in The Big Bang Theory. I feel the producers have decided to focus entirely on frivolous Sheldon stories which have no emotional resonance with the audience. Yes he is funny and yes they write some clever jokes but his character is unreal. He is there to provide comedy in support of more realistic characters and yet he is taking over the show. There is a reason Frasier wasn’t about Bulldog, Cheers wasn’t about Woody, Seinfeld wasn’t about Kramer, Friends wasn’t all about Joey and so on. If a character is inherently unrealistic then they can’t dominate a show without sinking it in to “cheap sitcom” territory.

This episode feels like a pit stop on the way to The Big Bang Theory becoming exactly like Two and a Half Men. And although that show is successful, it is incredibly formulaic, predictable and increasingly ludicrous. If that’s what the producers want, then so be it, but I had higher hopes for this show and if it continues on this path it will never be talked of in the same category as the aforementioned shows.

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