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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 17 - The Monster Isolation

23 February 2013

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Raj’s date with Lucy ends when she sneaks out of the bathroom window. He is crushed and refuses to leave his apartment. The guys don’t know what to do until she reappears with a note for him. Meanwhile Penny helps Sheldon with an episode of “Fun With Flags.” Amy encourages him to thank her and she invites him to her play.

The Good: The Sheldon-Penny story was pleasant and made good use of his social dislocation. I actually sympathised with him when he sincerely thanked Penny, assumed that would be the end of things and then got sucked into unwanted social conventions. His willingness to adapt and go to the play is evidence of growth, however grudging it might be. It was kind of amazing to see Penny acting after six seasons of her career being no more than background noise.

The Raj story allowed him to his rock bottom and begin to build a new relationship which I assume will run at least until the end of the season. It’s not where I would have taken the story but it’s presumably a positive development.

The Bad: It was getting hard to deal with Raj being a constant failure but to simply label him as one didn’t feel good. Clearly Raj isn’t meant to be gay and the writers simply explain away his social problems as being, well, social problems. It was unimaginative to have Raj claim that he has psychological issues and is a pathetic guy. It didn’t sound like something that people would admit about themselves. I think he could have said the same thing in a different and more plausible way. 

I think Raj being gay or Raj working out his problems on his own would have been more interesting developments than giving him a girlfriend like all the other guys have. I hope I’m wrong but the initial impression it gives is of a monochromatic world where four geeky guys find girls to put up with them.

Off screen jokes are hard to buy into because they clearly aren’t happening and Amy’s monkey silliness fell flat. Not all the onscreen jokes worked though, Raj hanging out in his underwear is about as cheap as it gets.

Comic Highlight: I did smile at Raj asking Lucy not to critique things he says, does or is “coz they are like my buttons.” But probably funnier was Sheldon attempting open body language but appearing more like he was sleazily hitting on her.

In Conclusion: If this finally moves Raj from generically pathetic toward merely amusingly hopeless that would be a plus. However it’s hard to imagine The Big Bang Theory really giving each of its characters a happy relationship and personal development. The show’s immense popularity suggests that it will run for another five years. So far I think the relationships on the show have moved slowly and organically (Penny and Leonard have not but they’ve reached a good place) but can that last? Are we going to see breakups and divorces for the sake of them to create plots for future seasons?

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  • Raj’s real dilemma is not being one way or the other: it’s not being much of anything at all.

    He hasn’t changed much from the first season. His selective mutism was an economical way to introduce and distinguish Raj from the other guys but it became a virtual straitjacket.

    The recurring gay jokes – which used to include Howard – don’t feel like foreshadowing. They’re the opposite actually; substitutes for Raj doing or becoming anything substantially different.

    A Raj-centric episode though makes me optimistic. I think the characters can be as funny as ever while still being involved in stories and incidents that matter and have consequences.

    When the series inevitably ends, I hope Raj, whom I’ve come to like a great deal, isn’t left behind as someone who might have been a standout character.

    Viewer score: 65 / 100

    Posted by JStrange, 23/02/2013 2:31am (6 years ago)

  • Penny suddenly being shown as a great actress felt out of place. Six years into the show and it was always like Penny was not a good actress and suddenly she is a great actress???

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by SAM, 22/02/2013 12:17pm (6 years ago)

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