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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 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. 

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  • G man
    I am afraid you are right. I don't hope depth stories of Two and a half men's writers.

    Posted by Lucia, 21/01/2010 4:57pm (10 years ago)

  • Yes yes yes! They did it much better in friends and Ross and Phoebe were only friends not lovers, but it was so revealing about their characters and generated sympathy for both of them. The other time this sort of thing was dealt with was on frasier when Niles admits he doesn't think Daphne is psychic. We learn about why she has this superstition and we love Niles for not having to fulfill his need for scientific truth because he's afraid it might hurt her or change her. As usual, there was no depth at all in Penny and Leonard's relationship and yet as you always say, the pieces are all in place. Is is a lack of thought and respect for the characters from the writer or do they genuinely lack the ability to create human depth to a relationship? If these are the same writers as Two and a half men, I am very tempted to suggest it is the latter...

    Posted by The G man, 21/01/2010 7:46am (10 years ago)

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