Episode 14 - The Beta Test Initiation
27 January 2012
Synopsis: Leonard suggests to Penny that they test their new relationship and report bugs when they find them. She agrees but doesn't appreciate his list of critiques. Meanwhile Raj's new phone has voice recognition software called Siri. He begins to bond with "her" in a way that makes his friends uncomfortable.
The Good: The gist of the Penny-Leonard story was good. To see them actually working on their relationship was refreshing and hopefully will lead to something new for the show. I'd prefer to see them become an established couple or break up for good. To that end I liked the conclusion of this instalment with Leonard making a real effort to impress her (with the trip to the shooting range) and Penny responding with warm appreciation. Their dialogue was solid throughout with Penny demanding credit for knowing what a Beta test is and Leonard apologising after being told not to say sorry so much.
I often complain that Sheldon is too prominent, so this video podcast plot was an ideal 'C' story. As you would expect his deadpan delivery in front of the camera was fun and the flag stuff was an ideal geeky topic.
The writers continue to impress me with the range of topics they cover. The Raj plot not only made use of voice recognition software (product placement I assume) but also managed to continue the arc story of his loneliness. That's no mean feat and what started off as silliness (Raj wandering out of work for a date with his phone) turned into something a little poignant. The escalation of his relationship with Siri was funny and sweet and then slowly became very awkward. I loved Howard's non committal response to Bernadette asking if this was cute or creepy. Again the use of Sheldon was excellent. His disinterest in human relationships meant that his compliments made Raj uneasy. If Sheldon thinks you are doing something right then there is probably something wrong. The concluding dream sequence where Raj's mutism was revealed as the real cause of his loneliness was very apt. It was also a funny scene (as he stands in front of a human Siri and can't speak) and little stories that can make you both feel and laugh are the stuff of good TV.
The Bad: The Leonard-Penny story did seem to be missing actual emotions. There was never any discussion of whether they were getting back together because they, you know, actually like each other. To have so little emotion seemed a peculiar way to interact for a couple getting back together after already having a relationship. Leonard's list of bugs also seemed very foolish. Surely he should have understood how his itemised complaints would make her feel? It seemed a particularly dumb move for someone who has just got his dream girl back.
Comic Highlight: The Sheldon flag stuff was easy comedy and good for it. At one point he explains how at the 1936 Olympics Haiti and Lichtenstein discovered that they actually had the same flag (a true story). Sheldon helpfully adds "Thankfully their embarrassment was overshadowed by the rise of fascism."
In Conclusion: This probably won't be one people remember especially but it was very solid.
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