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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 6 - The Extract Obliteration

9 December 2012

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Penny tells Leonard about the college history course she is taking but asks him not to make a big deal out of it. He goes behind her back and reads the paper. It’s terrible and so he rewrites it and she is furious with him. Sheldon begins playing “Words with Friends” with Stephen Hawking and does so well that the Professor no longer wants to play.

The Good: These were far from the two worst stories the show has ever done but...

The Bad: Both stories demonstrated the show’s weaknesses. Ask yourself what story was being told with Penny and Leonard? Was it about her quest to improve herself? Kind of. Was is about their relationship? Kind of. Was it about him as a boyfriend? Kind of.

The reality is that the story was about stasis. It was about not allowing these characters to change or develop at all. Leonard looks like such a moron for rewriting Penny’s paper. Obviously it is a breach of trust and an insult to her intelligence. Both of which he should have understood. More than that though I don’t see how he thinks that will help her. He gives his explanation that it might help avoid her becoming discouraged but she will have to succeed alone eventually. Then when she does get the B- he doesn’t seem to question how that can be possible considering how terrible the paper was. Moral of the story? Leonard is socially stunted and though he likes Penny a lot he doesn’t understand her at all.

And what of Penny? She is in the right throughout until she gets Bernadette and Amy to write the paper for her. I know it was nothing more than a cheap punch line but what it says about her is that she is a bad student and isn’t willing to put in the effort to gain rewards on her own. It also reveals a foolish desire to prove Leonard wrong at the expense of just admitting that she needs time to improve. Moral of the story? Penny isn’t going to change as a character and she doesn’t care about building a relationship with Leonard.

It’s the same old story with those two. Their whole story was summed up by her inability to cook the spaghetti properly. She didn’t care enough to make sure it was right and he is too afraid to say anything and so says he loves it. Great.

The Sheldon story was just more stasis. The writers are so un-ambitious that they use the idea of Stephen Hawking (and his voice software) to tell the most basic and predictable of stories. Sheldon is caught in a moral dilemma that would only stump a toddler and spends the whole episode whining about it. It also just reaks of cheapness to spend an episode making jokes about Stephen Hawking being a bad loser. It’s such a simplistic and childish approach to comedy. Is this really the best use of everyone’s time?

The joke about accents was a bit inappropriate and didn’t go anywhere. Sheldon shouldn’t believe that the Jedi mind trick actually works.

Comic Highlight: Although Sheldon’s disinterest in Leonard can become tiresome there were some fun lines in their Chess Clock sharing sequence. Leonard asks Sheldon for advice to which he responds “Beats me!” and tries to switch the conversation back to him. Leonard asks for more and he responds “Women huh.” Leonard demands something more specific to him “Blonde woman huh.”

In Conclusion: Yeah I know, why am I reviewing a show that is committed to maintaining the status quo no matter what? I ask myself every other week.



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  • I think there maybe some on the writing team who try to push Leonard and Penny toward some kind of character development. But the inertia of the show won't allow that to actually be the case.

    I don't think this really explored Penny's insecurities. It may have hinted at that but it retreated to an easy joke instead of following through on the narrative.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 09/12/2012 2:41pm (8 years ago)

  • Hi TV Critic,

    Again I love the way you review this show.

    Personally I thought the main purpose of this episode was to reveal Penny's insecurities in the relationship and solve them to some extent.

    But in trying to include Amy and Bernadette in this storyline just ruined everything.

    I personally would have preferred to see Leonard finding out the book and then give her confidence by telling her that she is smart by giving examples like the time when she beat him at chess , the time she destroyed Sheldon in Halo and many of her other street smart skills.

    In this way it would have resolved Penny's insecurities , presented both of them in a likable manner and move their relationship forward.

    What do you think??

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by Critic, 09/12/2012 1:27pm (8 years ago)

  • I expect more from BBT than obvious laughs and inconsistent characters.

    Leonard commits a Season One nerd error with his rewrite of Penny's paper. Come on: he was better than that years ago when he tried to argue Sheldon out of cleaning Penny's apartment while she slept. Leonard's mistakes should be new ones!

    Penny's achievement of a B- college paper is largely diminished by the implication that Amy and Bernadette may have contributed more than was ethical.

    So neither Leonard or Penny was shown in a good light or even a different one. He's still socially awkward, she's still a bit superficial.

    Maybe we expect too much from BBT. Like the reviewer, I'm surprised they're not a wee bit more ambitious to have the characters evolve. The writers are clever enough to weave progress into the usual shenanigans.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by JStrange, 02/11/2012 9:43pm (8 years ago)

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