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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 9 - The Vengeance Formulation

26 November 2009

Synopsis: Sheldon is invited to speak about monopoles on NPR. Kripke leaks helium into the room as a prank. Sheldon is upset and Leonard encourages him to seek vengeance. He does but the revenge prank has an unintended consequence. Meanwhile Bernadette wants Howard to commit to a relationship with her. He feels he should be with someone hotter but thinks better of it and tries to woo her.

The Good: There’s a lot of good stuff in this episode. The writing definitely makes Howard seem more real and more interesting. The dynamic with Bernadette works quite well. The idea of her not understanding his jokes is simple and had plenty of comic potential. It also adds to the idea that she could believably fall for him. His desire to be with even hotter women is understandable and does fit his character. Clearly a relationship with Bernadette would offer more interesting stories for now so it’s nice to see the show go in that direction.

Howard’s makeshift version of “Bernadette” was fun to see and beautifully performed. Katie Sackhoff’s unexpected cameo was a fun piece of casting. The discussion about the woman from Total Recall was fun if you know what they are talking about.

As ever Sheldon holds court in typically entertaining fashion. The development of Kripke as a nemesis is a nice idea. The key to expanding the range of things to do with Sheldon is finding characters who bring out a different side of him. Kripke hasn’t been battered into obedient silence as most people have been by Sheldon and instead is always ready with a quip. This leaves Sheldon speechless and annoyed which is a nice change of pace.

Seeing Sheldon flustered as his voice gets higher and higher was nice obvious comedy. The foamy revenge which Sheldon then cooks up was an excellent piece of writing\research. The revenge needed to be both annoying enough to secure vengeance but harmless enough to be legal and plausible. The visual demonstration of Sheldon’s concoction was excellent, foamy vengeance indeed. The gloating video incriminating everyone in front of the head of the university was a very nice final punch line and fitted Sheldon’s ego just right.

Along the way we had several enjoyable Sheldon moments (see Comic Highlight) including the unexpected use of a whoopee cushion and Raj hilariously doing “the lollipop guild” (from The Wizard of Oz) to mock his high voice. I also really liked Penny shouting “Hey Raj, talk to me!” as she entered the room. It’s good to address that issue now that she spends so much time with him and his deflated balloon reaction was ideal.

The Bad: Neither plot actually finishes which seems to be the curse of modern comedy. I suppose we get the point, Sheldon will be punished but not severely and Bernadette will take Howard back. But I believe it is far more satisfying to finish plots off neatly.

Howard’s character is not ideally treated here. By claiming that Bernadette isn’t hot enough for him he seems needlessly shallow. It would have been more interesting for him to point out the genuine differences in personality between them. And his marriage proposal was ridiculous and seemed completely out of character. Leave that stuff out.

Comic Highlight: Mad scientist Sheldon explains his revenge plan to Leonard and Raj:
S: “A solution of hydrogen peroxide and one of saturated potassium iodide.”
R: “What’s this?” (pointing to a glass of yellow liquid)
S: “Mountain Dew (drinks). Ah refreshing!”
So camp, so amusingly delivered. Only Sheldon could get away with it.

In Conclusion: A very enjoyable and laugh filled episode.

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