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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 14 - The Einstein Approximation

7 February 2010

Synopsis: Sheldon is stuck on why electrons behave as if they have no mass when moving through a graphene sheet. He tries every way he can imagine to help him figure it out, including working at the Cheesecake Factory.  

The Good: Like Sheldon, the writers focus pretty single mindedly on one plot and for someone like me who appreciates logic the results are good.

In stead of saying he has tried everything to find the answer, Sheldon really does try everything. He uses food, he uses marbles, he uses a ball pit, he uses a white board. The writers should get a lot of credit for the effort they put into their plots. On what other show would a character be glancing quickly at a formula in order to try and engage his brains superior colliculus? Similarly its no cheap joke that Sheldon ends up doing the same ‘menial’ job as Penny. It’s a deliberate echo of how Einstein was able to achieve a breakthrough while working at the patent office. Those scientific details make Sheldon a far more convincing and believable character than he otherwise might be.

Of course the cheap and easy jokes do come readily when Sheldon is behaving so abnormally but that’s no bad thing. Outsmarting Leonard in the pit of balls and being convinced to go to bed by Bernadette’s child minding psychology are nice juvenile gags. Throw in Sheldon’s camp delivery (see Comic Highlight) as he insults Leonard, Penny and the lady helping him get a job and there is plenty to enjoy. The writers also add more appropriate geek humour with Leonard’s Joker ringtone and Sheldon insulting the idea of an Apple Store “genius.”

The ‘B’ plot was kept as brief as possible which was for the best. Though it did allow poor Raj to suggest a roller disco, have the idea turned into a double date and understandably retort “Great! It’s not like I brought it up because I wanted to go.”

The Bad: Did the employment office lady need to call security on Sheldon? That seemed like one of those unnecessary exaggerations to make a joke. He hadn’t done anything to deserve that.

I suppose I would prefer if these plots would have some kind of purpose or message to them. Sheldon is actually very impressive, he strives so hard for the answer and works far harder than his friends do to achieve his goals. And we never learn what his work leads to or how highly he is thought of at CALTECH.  It’s also worth asking whether Raj is still meant to be working for him (304).

Comic Highlight: There aren’t any natural zingers in this episode or other jokes which rise above the others. Sheldon’s various antics will amuse you more or less based on your tastes. My tastes led me toward Sheldon saying “I do” in a camp voice. Why? He is talking to the lady at the employment office and she asks if he has a particular field in mind for the menial job he is looking for. He says “I do” so slowly and deliberately that he conveys the full meaning of his sentence which I would roughly translate as “I do because I think these things through thoroughly and I’m glad you asked me because I, having a greater mind than you, am more likely to come up with an appropriate answer despite this being your day job.” I guess that’s what you call reading between the lines.

In Conclusion: Yet another fun episode exploring a clever comic creation and his interaction with the world.

 

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