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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 6 - The Middle Earth Paradigm

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Penny invites the guys to her Halloween party. They all dress up in elaborate costumes and head there early but have trouble meeting new people. Leonard decides to try and match wits with Penny’s ex-boyfriend and they end up arguing. Leonard leaves upset and embarrassed. Penny comes to see if he is ok and ends up drunkenly kissing him.

The Good: There is a lot to enjoy here. The costume party is a clever way to get the guys excite about a party which they would otherwise be apprehensive about. The scene with them all dressed as The Flash is pretty funny (see Comic Highlight). The fact that they turn up to the party at 19.05 is a good piece of writing. The idea of turning up to a party several hours after it starts is a convention which you can easily believe they wouldn’t understand. Wolowitz throws in a fun line when he says he has condoms in his quiver (dressed as Robin Hood).

The confrontation between Leonard and Kurt serves a good purpose but isn’t written as well as it could have been (See The Bad). It does provide several good lines for Sheldon who plays the cowardly wingman really well. So when Leonard says of Kurt “that he and I are on equal ground” Sheldon retorts “yes but you’re much closer to it than he is.” Then he guffaws amusingly at Leonards lame “homo habilis discovering his opposable thumbs says what” line.

The scene with Penny and Leonard is brief but moves their relationship along to a more intimate stage well. The writers have shown an admirable ability to punctuate important moments with really strong punch lines. And here, grateful for his chivalry Penny says that Leonard is “really smart” for not taking advantage of her drunken state. And he replies “yeah I’m a frickin genius!”

The Bad: The problem with the confrontation between Leonard and Kurt is that it seems manufactured. Kurt is wooden in his delivery and Leonard is actually quite rude. Obviously Kurt is being dismissive of him in the first place, but then Leonard basically calls him a moron and taunts him about it. The scene makes Leonard seem like a jerk. He could have just brushed off Kurt but his taunting justifies Kurt in taking action. The whole scene feels inauthentic and designed for laughs more than being an effective vehicle for the story.

Comic Highlight: Leonard answers the door all proud in his Flash costume. He adjust himself, subtly building the audience’s expectation of who will be on the other side. He opens it and Wolowitz rushes in with accompanying Flash noises. It’s a really funny moment but it is almost instantly ruined by Sheldon and Rajesh also arriving in Flash costumes. The joke has been expanded to the point where it isn’t funny anymore. Leonard suggests they change before Rajesh suggests “or we could walk right behind each other all night and it will look like one person going really fast!” A clever way to make you laugh once more.

In Conclusion: The scene with Kurt and Leonard reveals something to me. The writers worked out that they wanted Leonard and Penny to kiss and then thought about how to get them there. Despite the failure of that scene, this is a very good sign. It suggests that the producers have a good idea of how their characters story should unfold and won’t be swayed by just trying to make as many jokes as possible. Kudos to them and to their credit there are jokes here to laugh at too.



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