Crumbs: Reviews » Comedies » The Big Bang Theory » Season 1 » The Loobenfeld Decay
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.

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 10 - The Loobenfeld Decay

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Leonard hears Penny singing and it is not good. When she asks him to come to a showcase he lies and says that he and Sheldon have plans. Sheldon is uncomfortable with the lie which Leonard gives and so comes up with a new one. Each time Penny believes him he finds new holes in his own lie and new ways to patch it up.

The Good: Again the show revels in Sheldon. They have created a unique character and to them and to Jim Parsons (the actor) must go a considerable amount of credit.

The plot is based around Sheldon’s misunderstanding of how lying works in social situations. As we know Sheldon can’t appreciate how others feel (as he literally demonstrates twice here) and that he likes to look at everything scientifically, his increasingly complex lies are plausible. The fact that we can believe that Sheldon could go to such lengths to protect his lie is a credit to the writing and acting for being so consistent and thorough with him.

At each stage of the show Sheldon manages to make things funny and plausible. Once Leonard explains that he would have to lie to Penny to protect her feelings Sheldon ponders the idea. He then says “Leonard, when we played chess earlier, you were terrific and I can’t wait to play you again.” His incessant knocking on doors fits his character as do his responses to rhetorical questions. His intricate web of lies is also fun and the lengths he goes to (including Facebook and blog entries) is spot on.

Probably the biggest laugh comes when Leonard appears at breakfast to find Sheldon’s fictional cousin sitting over a bowl of cereal. Toby’s silly speech about being abused is fun as is his sucking up to Penny in the final scene.

The moral of the story is often missing from The Big Bang Theory but here we get a decent one as Leonard is forced to watch a tape of Penny’s singing after all. The point isn’t driven home but it’s a nice attempt to show what happens when you lie.

The Bad: I’m never keen on plots centred on a person not being able to see that they are no good at something. It never seems plausible that someone who can judge abilities in every other area of life is completely blind to this one flaw. However Penny’s singing is not the focus here which is good.

Comic Highlight: Sheldon is trying to explain Leonard why he has brought his friend Toby round to play the part of Leo. Leo asks “How about this as my motivation. When I was 14 years old I was abused in the Philippines by a club footed navy chaplain.”
Sheldon is unimpressed “No, we’re going with middle child. And a genetic predisposition to inadequate serotonin production.”
Leo: “How do I play genetic predisposition?”
Sheldon: “Sub-textually, of course. Just have fun with it!”
That last line is so funny because you get the impression Sheldon doesn’t mean it at all.

In Conclusion: The focus on one story gives the episode a clear structure and a memorable identity. It is both funny and plausible but is not a classic episode of comedy. The humour just isn’t strong enough to match the clever story.



Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments