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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 7 - The Good Guy Fluctuation

23 January 2012

Synopsis: Howard, Raj and Leonard play a Halloween prank that scares Sheldon badly. He plots his revenge but they keep foiling his attempts. Leonard meets a cute girl, Alice, and is tempted to cheat on Priya with her. He can't go through with it though and is shocked to learn that Priya has already cheated on him.

The Good: This was very enjoyable. The two plots were set up early on, both were clear and easy to get into with clear motivations for all involved.

The Sheldon story played to his strengths. His inability to be subtle and hide his real motives make pranks ideal comedy. The opening prank was suitably thorough to make it believable that he would fall for it and his subsequent revenge attempts were equally grand. I liked the way the gang clearly worked together to foil Sheldon's plots and the fun in each scene was to picture how his plans would fail. The conclusion was a little simple for Sheldon but there was dramatic surprise in him popping out from under the sofa cushions to frighten Leonard.

Leonard's story was really good. It was a simple moral dilemma that anyone and particularly guys could relate to. With Priya gone and a girl throwing herself at him it was easy to see why he was so tempted. His conversations with Penny and Sheldon were very enjoyable as he explained himself well and their reactions to his dilemma fit their characters well. I liked that Penny knew instantly how to handle the moral dilemma. Either you accept you are cheating on Priya or you can't be with another girl. It really was as simple as that and Leonard's attempt to have his cake and eat it made him look like a douche in a believable way. The predictable news that Priya had already cheated on him was a nice note to finish on. We knew their breakup was coming but enough time has passed that it hasn't felt like a flippant breakup. There may even be more narrative to come before they are finally done.

This episode was a great example of my argument that when plots flow well the dialogue around it can be funnier as a result. Stuart's silly rule that anyone who picks up a girl in the comic book store goes on the Wall of Heroes suddenly became a funny moment because Leonard was so clearly proud of his achievement. Sheldon carrying the snake gingerly into his office saying "Oh dear" over and over again felt like exactly how he would react to this unsanitary act. Leonard is very polite to Penny and doesn't want to seek her advice if she will be upset by the conversation. So he points out that they used to date and she responds deadpan "That's where I know you from!" Sheldon shocks himself and creates a loop of current that it takes him a while to break. He gets up, shaken, perhaps taking in the fact that he just suffered from the very prank he is designing for Howard but simply concludes "Perfect!" When Leonard walks in he dismisses his question of what he is up to by saying "Science, you wouldn't understand." We even get to see Sheldon note how unsettling it is that Bernadette has begun to sound like Howard's mother. None of these gags on their own was particularly funny but they flowed so beautifully out of the simple stories that I wrote in my notes "loving this." This is what a sit com should feel like: a fun ride you can get lost in and laugh along at the silliness unfolding.

The Bad: It would be nice if Leonard weren't still offering girls his car when they hit on him. But to be fair I actually thought his attempts to play the good guy despite actually being a bad guy were pretty believable. It was a simple moral tale about trying to have everything and not being honest.

Comic Highlight: Probably Sheldon shocking himself and concluding that it was "Perfect!" When he is set on something and ignores the actual consequences of what he is doing comedy comes naturally.

In Conclusion: This was such a simple episode and it was really effective. It drove the plot while making use of the season and the characters.

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  • Another minor typo - "she will be upset the conversation".

    Also, re the "face paint". It looked to me like zombie makeup.

    Regards, Faheem

    Posted by Faheem Mitha, 20/01/2012 7:06pm (7 years ago)

  • Thanks for commenting again C. I'm glad you liked the episode. Good point about Sheldon and the face paint.

    Yes "The Cosby Show" definitely comes from a different era of comedy when moral lessons were expected and the comedy came second but more organically. I still prefer that formula to many modern shows where the jokes come and go and don't work because they lack context.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 29/10/2011 11:46am (7 years ago)

  • I totally agree, this was a pretty awesome episode! PS i'm following up on HIMYM and TBBT, and TBBT is definitely seeming to be much better than HIMYM, which is quite sad cos HIMYM got me utterly hooked at the start while it took me two tries before i started ep 1 of TBBT!

    Anyhows back to this ep, i like how they played science and geekiness into the humor, it was effective and consistent with the theme of the show! i really like the opening, i thought it was so unexpectedly amusing when Sheldon uttered 'There we have it! Conclusive proof, that i am absolutely worthless after nine o'clock!' when i was expecting something science related, like discovering the formula to the molecular theory of (blank) haha. And then how they used their scientific abilities to make florescent skeletons and blood stains forming words..

    And then Sheldon's scream when he saw Leonard in a mask was absolutely good comedic timing! i was getting a bit tired of the way Sheldon acts but this episode i absolutely adored his antics :) His exaggerations (while trying to hide his Halloween attacks) were also funny and not unbearable and tedious :)

    I also like that they how their visits to the Comic bookstore were never boring and mundane, and yet relevant! The appearance of Penny talking about PMS and binging on sweets was also consistent with her character, and even though she only appeared briefly in this episode it didn't feel out of place and she just assimilates with the geek gang despite being so different from them! And her sarcasm re: 'Oh that's where i know you from' was funny, unlike the previous where she had rhyming replies to Sheldon's knocking her door re:

    And i loved this the most: i thought the gold comedic line of this episode could possibly be 'It's not suspicious that i'm fixating, it's consistent with my personality" when he kept bugging Leonard to open the mail, best line ever!!!! Close fight with 'Conclusive proof, that i am absolutely worthless after nine o'clock!' though HAHA

    If i'd were to really nitpick, the only thing that i thought was slightly not fitting was at the end when Sheldon had facepaint on, i'd assume he'd be extremely concerned about having chemicals on his face and stuff, since he is so particular about such stuff.. But the ending was indeed amusing and again, unexpected!

    Lovely episode which made many references to previous ones 'Be A Lamb' 'Bernadette's screaming sounding like Howard's mom' 'Sheldon working out formulas on the whiteboard' 'being at Comic bookstore/office/mailbox' 'Bazinga', it was one hilarious moment after another, without being forced and everything flowed, possibly one of the best TBBT episodes ever!

    But to be honest i'd really wish Leonard would break up with Priya already, i've never liked her though i've never hated her, but i feel like she has never really fitted in the show, and her parts of the story just seems a bit unbearable to me haha.

    PS i think The Cosby Show's actually a successful example of good comedy, funny moments are weaved into the plot without being forceful, while still embedding moral lessons. But of course the general arch of the story talks about family related stuff, so it might not be interesting enough for people who enjoy modern jokes haha.

    Posted by C, 29/10/2011 10:39am (7 years ago)

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