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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-???


Episode 12 - The Jerusalem Duality

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Dennis Kim, a child genius is looking around the university and seems to have outstripped Sheldon in every way. Sheldon decides to give up his own work and focus on other tasks. These annoy the guys so much that they try to distract Dennis in order to get Sheldon back to normal.

The Good: There is some solid characterisation here. We see Sheldon’s ego in its full glory and realise that he not only thrives on being clever but on being better than everyone else. His patronising attempts to help his friends are occasionally funny as well.

Meanwhile both Howard and Leonard’s reminiscences about high school girls give amusing and sympathetic portraits of their teenage lives.

The Bad: This is a typical episode of The Big Bang Theory. And I don’t mean that in a good way. The story zeroes in on Sheldon’s need to be seen to be the smartest person he knows. However instead of the story focussing on him coming to terms with being number two, it focuses on the groups’ silly attempt to sabotage Dennis.

You may well ask what is wrong with that. There wouldn’t be too much of a problem if that story was very funny. But instead Sheldon says inappropriate things to people while the others stand around moping about how they can’t talk to women. My argument will always be that stories which focus on peoples characters will create the best jokes. Because I believe the biggest laughs come from a believable context. Or in other words, the more real to life or true to you a joke is, the funnier it will be. So the more you make the audience believe in characters and their lives, the better the jokes will become.

Onto some details: Sheldon is once more far too mean to Leonard. He basically says to his face that he doesn’t listen to him because he doesn’t care about his work. Statements like that weaken our belief in their friendship. He is similarly rude to the others and it is a shame we don’t get to see what Rajesh does at the university. His character needs more development. The casting of Dennis’ girlfriend is odd as she is so much taller than him and she looks older too. It’s also unclear once more what exactly Sheldon does at work. His boss seems very unconcerned that he has given up on Physics research and begun work on Middle Eastern politics. Isn’t he there to study physics?

Comic Highlight: Sheldon comes to see Howard in his engineering lab. “Engineering, where the semi-skilled labourers execute the vision of those who think and dream. Hello Oompa Loompas of science.”

In Conclusion: I hope the producers can see the value of telling real stories and giving their characters developed personalities. Otherwise it is going to be a frustrating few years for viewers who crave something more. The show is good enough to survive and entertain but it could be even better. This is a typical effort, I hope one day it will be atypical.



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