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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 1 - The Robotic Manipulation

23 February 2012

Synopsis: Sheldon is considering have a child with his friend Amy. Penny suggests that they go on a date so he can get to know the future mother of his child. Meanwhile Wollowitz finds an unsavoury use for a robotic arm he is developing.

The Good: The whole team are back and they haven't skipped a beat. I suppose I could talk about how that's a bad thing because the show hasn't changed or grown much but I'm no fool. The show doesn't want to change and why should it? It's a huge success and it's not difficult to see why.

The show still sparkles with fun banter and amusing lines that fellow traditional sitcoms just can't manage. Even something as childish as Raj asking where Aquaman poops is believable enough to make me smile. Add to the idea the sincerity of the enquiry and the consistency of Raj asking those questions and you can see the attention to detail which marks the show out from its rivals.

Of course it's Sheldon that carries the show to even greater heights and as ever the writers give him plenty of chances to shine. I enjoyed his delight in the "glycol ether" pun which also helped establish the nature of his relationship with Amy. Perhaps the best example of why he works so well as a character was this exchange with Penny:

P: "...there's a couple of things you should probably know."
S: "I have a master's degree and two doctorates, the things I should know, I do know."

Although he is arrogant, he is also just stating a fact. He is able to get a punch line laugh without having to be silly or make a joke or say anything that you wouldn't entirely expect him to say.

The introduction of Amy Fowler as his "girlfriend" is a sensible idea for the show. It will allow the writers to mine the untapped area of his sex life which will be a lot of fun.

The Howard story was predictable but it wasn't out of his character at all. The shot of him getting a massage from his robot was funny and as the jokes got cheaper you know some people will laugh harder (see Comic Highlight).  

The Bad: The Sheldon first date story wasn't all that it could have been but I imagine we have plenty more stories to get through on that subject. It's just sad that the writers don't try to develop Sheldon or Penny's characters during these interactions. Penny is excellent here when her less then chaste behaviour comes to light around the dinner table. It's revealed in a plausible manner and she is embarrassed. But it doesn't go anywhere. Nor does Sheldon's foray into the world of dating. It would make the show even better to have a sense that these characters were genuinely evolving however slowly.

There are moments when the writers allow Sheldon to say things he shouldn't. This was only a small slip but I keep my eye on them. When in the car he claimed he was happy with the "uncomfortable silence." Surely he wouldn't have seen anything uncomfortable about it? It was Penny who didn't like the silence, seeing it as abnormal where as Sheldon and Amy were fine with saying nothing.

The physics of the hand gripping Wollowitz' junk doesn't really make sense to me but I won't dwell.

Comic Highlight: Wollowitz' masturbatory malfunction was obviously going to draw many a zinger, most of which were too obvious. But when he arrived at the hospital the robot's appearance suddenly became too suspicious leading to this golden exchange with the attending nurse:

Nurse: "What is this?"
Howard: "It's a robot arm."
N: "Where's the rest of the robot?"
H: "I only built the arm."
N: "Coz that's all you needed right?"

Remember that the arm was built specifically to be just an arm and not a whole robot which made that line so good.

In Conclusion: The show is back and I'm happy to see it. It could still be better but it's very good at what it does.



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