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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 5 - The Holographic Excitation

26 October 2012

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Howard cannot stop talking about his time in space and is driving everyone crazy. Bernadette tells him to tone it down but he is bitter about it. Raj and Stewart are busy preparing for a Halloween party at the comic book store. The girls tell Penny she should take more of an interest in Leonard’s work and when she goes to see his lab she is impressed. Amy wants Sheldon to wear a couples costume at the party and although he agrees they can’t find an appropriate couple.

The Good: This was a real glass half empty or glass half full kind of episode. You could reasonably tell me that it was half an hour of entertainment that satisfied you or that each story was disappointing. I liked that we got four separate stories built around Halloween and an attempt to tell us something about each couple through them.

The writers have milked Howard’s trip to space for all its worth and for good reason. As he says at the end it is of course the coolest thing he’ll ever do and it’s only natural that he would want to cling onto it for as long as possible. It’s a shame that it was dealt with in a dull way but I can’t argue that it wasn’t believable nor that Bernadette’s love is the correct consolation upon his return to normalcy.

Penny and Leonard meanwhile had about the best moment they’ve ever had as a couple thanks to his thought provoking holographic demonstration. It was a great moment for the argument that sit coms flourish when there is a studio audience present because their hushed silence really gave extra heft to the scene. Penny taking an interest in Leonard’s work at last was a nice idea in the long term project of either breaking them up or making them work as a couple. The reduction to multiple sex scenes was an adequate punch line.

I liked the idea that Sheldon would be in favour of couples Halloween costumes and it was rightfully presented as one of the few benefits he could see in his relationship. The subsequent battle to find an acceptable couple was predictable and their compromise gave us the fun visual of him as a raggedy C-3PO.

Raj and Stewart’s party continued their “buddies” storyline and of course allowed for multiple costume jokes. It’s always an easy retreat for comedies at this time of year but it’s hard not to enjoy the sight of Smurfs and other creatures who have the kind of attention lavished on them that only a Hollywood costume department could manage. I have to say I laughed at Stewart’s pathetically honest exclamation when he finally meets a woman and says “I’m fun, I’m not clinically depressed at all.”

The Bad: The Howard storyline was dull. The Big Bang Theory has traditionally struggled with the B in their A-B-C stories. Howard is talking non-stop about space (A), Bernadette tells him (B) and he gets upset. She then comforts and reassures him (C). The B part should have been more interesting. Instead it was repetitive and made Howard seem irritable (I didn’t like him mocking her voice). It didn’t really play up the emotions he expressed at C nor did it generate any laughs. In the end it was just a very basic story. The same was kind of true of Leonard and Penny who got the A and B but never got to C. Though I suppose their entire relationship is waiting for some kind of conclusion.

Raj’s list of puns was dull stuff and it was a shame that Stewart only got the one line to try and meet women.

Comic Highlight: This was a fun episode with lots of little jokes which worked fine. I actually liked Amy’s question about Howard’s obsession with wearing turtle necks because I’ve always wondered who made that decision. Then we got Sheldon claiming that Amy was all “hopped up on tea bags” and his suggestion that a good couples costume would be Hewlett and Packard. However I thought the best line was Penny pointing at Leonard’s lab equipment and being baffled by their complicated names and functions. She points at several before landing on a small grey square object on his desk and asks what it is. “That is a pencil sharpener” Leonard responds.

In Conclusion: While not a classic episode this was pretty entertaining. There were a lot of small gags that landed and Penny and Leonard finally had an authentic moment as a couple. I’ll take it.

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