Episode 18 - The Contractual Obligation Implementation
9 March 2013
Synopsis: Howard, Leonard and Sheldon are obliged to work on a committee at the university. Leonard is interested in getting more women into science and so they head to Howard's old middle school to talk to a class. Meanwhile Raj sets up a text date in a library with Lucy and Bernadette, Amy and Penny head to Disneyland.
The Good: The conception of these stories was solid but the execution was basic. We don't often hear much about the actual work the guys do at the university so I welcome any exploration of that. Similarly I enjoyed the way the idea to go to Disneyland grew organically out of a discussion of where Raj should take Lucy on their date.
If we are going to see Raj build a relationship from the ground up then I liked this as a start. The choice of a text date in the library was sweet and suited their social anxieties.
The Bad: However only Raj's story was an actual story. The rest of the episode was just the result of a group of writers making lists of jokes. There was no narrative purpose to either trip and I continue to argue that it's far more engaging to be taken on a journey than just presented with a collection of gags.
To see Howard, Leonard and Sheldon back at school and talking to girls was a fertile comedy setting and yet delivered little. With no story to guide them we got jokes about the guys being nerds, Howard not really being an astronaut, Sheldon not seeing the potential sexual context of "exciting" young girls etc. The same collection of punch lines went on with the girls with Penny's colourful past and Amy's lack of one being mined once more. I did appreciate the irony of Bernadette and Amy, dressed as princesses, telling the class (over the phone) to aspire to be more than pretty. However with no actual conclusion to either story it was just a nice idea rather than any kind of punch line. I was also slightly confused by the idea that Howard and Leonard were turned on by the sight of their girlfriends dressed as princesses. That's not really a stereotype that I'm aware of and again felt like a joke coming before a story.
I didn't need Bernadette calling her friends bitches or Raj telling a fellow socially awkward man to go crawl up a beanstalk. Did either situation require the character to be mean to be funny?
Comic Highlight: I couldn't help but laugh at Leonard attempting a hype-man style intro to his talk and elongating the word "science" in rapper style. However the bit was quickly overdone with Leonard oblivious to how pathetic his routine seemed.
In Conclusion: A typical Big Bang Theory episode: nice ideas, no ambition.
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