Episode 12 - The Psychic Vortex
20 January 2010
Synopsis: Howard and Leonard head out on a double date leaving Raj with Sheldon. Raj bribes Sheldon to come with him to a college mixer and they meet two girls. Meanwhile Penny reveals that she believes in psychics and Leonard laughs at her.
The Good: This is a perfect showcase of Sheldon’s comedic side. I have said before that he is at his funniest when interacting with people who haven’t met him before and this proves especially true here.
All the detail work was in place too, reminding you that the writers do know how to make his character work. Of course he has no interest in going out and socialising so bribery is the only way Raj will get him to cooperate. Bringing the Green Lantern lantern with him was such an easy joke but it worked and was a plausible discussion piece to hook in two female co-workers. By being fellow scientists it was equally believable that Sheldon could spend an evening with them and not alienate them.
By the time Raj returns to bribe Sheldon again the formula is solidly in place. Raj gets sympathy for having to give up his Hulk Hands and Sheldon doing a silly Hulk impression is a great joke because it’s such a contrast from his rigidly calm demeanour. Even Sheldon learning Finnish while his computer formatted was a nice bit of continuity making the whole story seem more real.
Finally of course Sheldon is completely oblivious to Martha’s sexual interest in him which is a comedy well that may never run dry (see Comic Highlight).
On the other side of the coin we get an attempt to examine Penny and Leonard’s relationship, which was good to see. Understandably they have conflict over his scientific snobbery and her patchwork of superstitions. Howard loitered around to add the odd laugh: “I don’t like to kiss and tell but somebody made it to eighth base!”
The Bad: However Leonard and Penny’s story had many a flaw. First off that Leonard was actually a jerk about her belief. There was a sweetness and gentleness to him in season one which seems to have been lost. I’m not sure who he is meant to be anymore. There isn’t really much exploration of her character either and why these beliefs might be comforting. This same debate was handled with much greater depth in Friends (203) but all that was needed here was some affection. We need to see why these two are good for each other and therefore why we should care. But it was lacking.
Comic Highlight: Sheldon and Martha are chatting about flat land as he leans on one Hulk Handed arm. “Time for bed” he announces much to her excitement. He bends his arms into muscle pose and yells in a gruff voice “Good night puny human!” Then walks away.
In Conclusion: The Big Bang Theory is always one step away from being a good show. This was funny though.
Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.