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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-???

54
/100

Episode 4 - The Re-Entry Minimization

19 October 2012

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Howard returns from space to find Bernadette is ill but wants to spend the night with him. She passes out though so he goes to see his Mum, and when that doesn’t work he goes to see Raj. But Raj is preoccupied with Stewart and the rest of the gang are playing games. After Penny and Amy destroy Sheldon and Leonard at Pictionary a series of increasingly silly contests are held which the girls keep winning.

The Good: Howard’s return from space was an adequate story. I appreciated the effort that was made to get Howie Mandel in for a cheap joke and to emphasise the lack of ceremony for our Howard’s return. Bernadette being ill and his mother having a date were standard stuff but the confrontation with Raj was more interesting.  It still seems like Raj’s friendship with Stewart is an excuse for more “Raj doesn’t know how gay he is” comedy rather than any actual realisations. But for now that’s fine and they play off each other well.

The Bad: I would have liked it if there was a genuine note of emotion to Howard’s final stop in a diner where he is left alone to sing “Rocket Man” to himself. It is a pretty sad situation to be so deflated but it was just played for laughs.

The silly contests between guys and girls over at Sheldon and Leonard’s place should have been a lot better than it was. It’s a standard sit com trope (Friends 412 being the obvious example) and yet it was played with no stakes beyond general girl versus boy competitiveness. There was no grudge to motivate anyone either, again beyond the traditional Penny-Sheldon antagonism. Finally there was no comic inventiveness. I bet the average viewer could think of multiple ways for Sheldon to misunderstand, misinterpret or mismanage these games. Yet all we got was Sheldon being physically weak or a wuss over and over again. That’s the same joke we saw repeatedly with Howard in space and it’s the laziest go-to gag on a show about geeks.

Comic Highlight: I did smile at the “Where’s Waldo” with no glasses on game. That captured the feebleness of the contests nicely. I also liked Penny kissing Sheldon to annoy him while he was pinned down and Amy joining in when he appealed for help.

In Conclusion: It’s no surprise that the comic ambition of the show would have atrophied after six seasons. It’s just a shame when at one stage the writers were so close to crafting something really good.

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