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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 11 - The Santa Simulation

15 December 2012

Credit CBS

Synopsis: The guys prepare for a Saturday night of Dungeons and Dragons while the girls head to a bar. Leonard doesn’t want Sheldon to crap all over Christmas and so prepares a Santa-themed mission for them. Raj is killed instantly and joins the girls.

The Good: This was absolutely classic Big Bang Theory. Two entertaining stories that hit the nerve of two characters before backing swiftly off to avoid actually having to follow through on anything.

I really did enjoy both sides of this. There is something very plausible about drunk Raj being judgmental about women’s looks (thus turning them off) and oblivious to their feelings (ditto). His outrageous unintentional double entendres can be funny and I laughed at his description of Penny getting naked and climbing into bed with him (424) being a case of him misreading “those signals.”

Similarly the Santa rescue mission was typically well written to include lots of fun mini-missions and asides. I liked Sheldon exclaiming “I like where this is headed” after Leonard described massacre of Elves. The build-up to the twist was good too with Sheldon slowly revealing that he actually knows a lot about Christmas and did enjoy it as a child. The twist itself was excellent as Sheldon reveals a hidden childhood issue with Santa surrounding his beloved Grandfather.

The Bad: Both stories stopped in the second act though. The revelation about Sheldon’s Grandfather was the end of the story. He has a silly dream about Santa but that’s it. There was no attempt to address Leonard’s desire to have a fun Christmas or whether he would now respect Sheldon’s desire to do the opposite. In typical selfish fashion Sheldon made it all about him and marched off. That’s it, twenty minutes of storytelling just blown off.

Raj’s story has been going on for far longer. The first episode of this season seemed to suggest that he might finally discover his own homosexuality. Although this story could be interpreted in that way it still seems more likely that the writers just like making jokes about Raj being lonely and camp. It’s a sad state of affairs for character and audience.

Comic Highlight: Amy and Raj try to one up each other with tales of loneliness culminating in Amy saying she passed out at a Frat house and woke up with more clothes on.

In Conclusion: I don’t see why the world would end if there were conclusions to these stories. The writers did all the hard work and then just abandoned Raj and Sheldon to remain forever who they are now.

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  • Well said.

    And as I often say I'm not expecting the characters to change much at all. But I would like stories that go somewhere. If they showed us a story about Leonard being a coward, I would prefer that to a story with no conclusion where his cowardice is just taken for granted. Stories with no conclusions are frustrating.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 23/12/2012 12:33pm (7 years ago)

  • If we see a movie or tv show where a pebble tumbles down a quiet hillside, a dog barks at midnight, a man complains about the lack of rain, we can expect these scenes to become plot points: there’s a landslide, a burglar, a storm arises.

    But in TBBT, it’s not uncommon for the scenes or episodes to go nowhere. An issue is raised, a few pebbles signal the ground’s a bit shaky and boulders may tumble, and then – nothing.

    Older tv comedies, at least, never implied that they were going anywhere. I recall reruns of Night Court, News Radio, Taxi, and Are You Being Served: the characters never much evolved (though they often were replaced) but we didn’t expect that. They’d already arrived at their destination.

    TBBT, a long time ago, made it seem like the journey was just beginning. Superficially the gang has made progress but it’s pathetically small: years have gone by and I swear you could often mistake a Season Six character for a first Season character. No, wait, first Season Leonard had more ambition and more backbone. You don’t stand up Penny’s giant ex-boyfriend Kurt three times and then continue to be Sheldon’s chauffeur anywhere but in TBBT’s world.

    Stuff happens, but that’s not necessarily progress.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by JStrange, 22/12/2012 11:45pm (7 years ago)

  • I really do enjoy these reviews. The layout is basic which allows for easy navigation and the writing is concise yet thorough; not a word is wasted.
    Thank you

    Posted by Vincent , 18/12/2012 10:59am (7 years ago)

  • Yeah I think Raj has just changed the tone of his voice over the years to fit the camp tone.

    In terms of the stasis of the characters I think the problem with TBBT is that they don't really tell stories. You are right that most sit com characters will remain in a familiar dilemma for years. However on Frasier for example he would strive to find love or some new achievement and we would watch him fail or occasionally succeed. There isn't any striving on TBBT. We've never seen Howard try to break free of his mother's control and fail. He never tries. We've not seen Raj seek professional help for his mutism, he just accepts it. Sheldon positvely rejects change and his friends don't hold him to account. Leonard won't punish Sheldon for ruining his game. He just rolls over and accepts it. So the static nature is only a problem when we are asked to care and yet see that there is zero attempt to do anything with these issues.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 16/12/2012 11:36pm (7 years ago)

  • The BBT does seem to live in a case of perpetual statis. I'm not that familar with sitcoms, so it is difficult to judge. Are all American sitcoms so static? I've sporadically watched for example Frasier and Friends, for example, in the past, and my recollection is that it was pretty static too. Not much would happen for years and years. But maybe my memory is inaccurate. BTW, why do they make Raj talk in that peculiar way now? He used to sound quite normal and beginning of the series. I suppose it is all part of that faux-gay persona.

    Posted by Faheem, 15/12/2012 5:21pm (7 years ago)

  • Penny said something recently to Leonard about how maybe he thinks so hard at work that he's uses up his brains there and so does/says stupid things the rest of the time.

    Maybe the writers work so hard coming up with good story ideas and jokes that by the end of an episode they often neither have the energy nor the inclination to include a hint that anything mattered.

    At this point, I just think any non-Sheldon centered episode's okay by me. The writers do make the effort to invite everyone to the party.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by JStrange, 15/12/2012 4:58am (7 years ago)

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