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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 9 - The Parking Spot Escalation

4 December 2012

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Howard has a new car and is given Sheldon’s parking spot at the university. Sheldon is outraged despite never using his space. He takes Howard’s iron man mask in response and the feud escalates to include Bernadette and Amy.

The Good: On the surface you could see this as an interesting story in the wake of Howard’s adventures in space. He and Sheldon butting heads over their academic prestige sounds plausible and appropriate.

The Bad: But this was deeply dull. It’s rare that I make no notes during an episode of The Big Bang Theory but I saw nothing worth noting down.

The dullest stories the show does are always about Sheldon being inflexible. The writers have no interest in telling a story about that inflexibility. We have never explored where it comes from or what it might lead to. Instead it remains an aim in its own right. The producers clearly feel that Sheldon digging his heels in leads to good comedy. I disagree. For me it kills the plot and therefore any potential for jokes to come from unexpected places. The jokes are always the same too as Sheldon tries to one up his opponents for pettiness without ever addressing the root of the problem.

Now before you point out that this episode was different, because Sheldon was clearly upset by Howard’s rising status, let me stop you. That had barely anything to do with this. It was a nice plausible excuse for the story. But this story could have been about anything. The point of this was to have Sheldon be an immovable object. That’s it. The jealousy or territory element of the story was thrown in to disguise how nothing was actually happening. Besides which Sheldon doesn’t care about Howard’s rising status. He wanted the spot because it was his. The underlying cause was never acknowledged by him nor do I think he would have reacted any differently if Leonard or Raj were the one trying to take his spot.

So what we were left with was four characters repeating the same arguments over and over again and playing childish pranks. But nothing they did or said was ever going to have consequences and so the spectacle became increasingly boring.

Comic Highlight: During Bernadette and Amy’s bickering Penny got hit in the face. After the matter is settled Sheldon, Amy, Howard and Bernadette are eating at the Cheesecake Factory. They toast how well everything has turned out and Penny walks by with two black eyes and a broken nose and says “Yeah everybody’s happy, great!”

In Conclusion: This episode worried me. Many of my UK friends watched a few episodes of TBBT and just concluded that it was a watered down sit com that wasn’t for them. I’ve stuck with it for years seeing the little flashes that it could be more than it aims to be. However this could be the start of straws piling on my back. I’ve found the show dull before but this was far worse. It wasn’t that the episode was particularly awful. It’s just that I had no patience for it, no hope that it could offer anything more. This could be the beginning of a miserable relationship.  



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  • Just a bit more. That's all I want.

    It's as if the writing reaches a tipping point where something important might be revealed, a cliff where an episode might mean something - and then they pull back from the edge.

    The moment passes: Sheldon's childishness is played for laughs. Howard's immaturity is just Howard being Howard. Leonard and Penny drift aimlessly along. Raj spins aimlessly in place.

    I've watched since Season One and I would have bet that our heroes would be further along than they are now. I think the writers' are skillful enough to have deeper characters and episodes without getting all grim and meaningful and didactic.

    The stuck-in-place HIMYM does indeed come to mind, now that I think about it. And that other Chuck Lorre show (Two and A Half Men) is a ominous reminder that maybe there's nothing that won't be done to a character for a laugh.

    Heh. I did like the comic highlight and Penny's sarcastic comment.

    Viewer score: 50 / 100

    Posted by JStrange, 04/12/2012 8:42pm (7 years ago)

  • You may well be right :-(

    Posted by The TV Critic, 03/12/2012 10:21am (7 years ago)

  • It was about this moment (season 5/6) that How i met your Mother started having some serious writing problems. Its still going to rate its butt off, but the cliche writing is increasing and the storylines are repetitive.
    Raj is lonely, Sheldon is inflexible and selfish, Howard loves his mother too much, penny and leonard are too smart/dumb for each other.

    just like you resign yourself to mediocrity from How I met your mother, So too must you now do the same with Big Bang Theory.

    Posted by goffy, 03/12/2012 6:10am (7 years ago)

  • Hi Faheem, I may be expecting too much from Chuck Lorre. Although he did work on Roseanne and Cybill, shows which had moments that are held in high regard.

    But for sit coms in general I don't think I'm being too harsh. I consider Friends, Frasier, Spin City and Seinfeld all shows which churned out quality entertainment year after year.

    I don't see why TBBT couldn't be a tiny bit more ambitious and be a far better show. I have no problem with Howard and Sheldon bickering over a parking spot. But the story should develop a little as it goes on. Instead the characters just repeat their initial arguments over and over again until the wrap up. It could have been far better.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 01/12/2012 10:37pm (7 years ago)

  • Hi Robin, I think "route of the problem" should be "root of the problem". Wrt the episode, you have expressed your disappointment with BBT before. While I agree it could be better, (for example the first season was better before the show got bogged down in all Sheldon, all the time), don't you think you are expecting too much from a 20 minute U.S. sitcom, and a Chuck Lorre sitcom at that? I actually think that the show's structure would work well for a slightly more serious (and longer) show, but that is not what this is. With regard to best lines, I preferred "nude revenge wiggle", closely followed by "don't hate me just because I lived the dream".

    Posted by Faheem, 01/12/2012 6:52pm (7 years ago)

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