Episode 3 - The Pulled Groin Extrapolation
23 February 2012
Synopsis: Amy invites Leonard to a wedding and they have a surprisingly good time. Howard suggests that Bernadette move in with him and his mother for a weekend as a trial for something more permanent. Sheldon buys a toy train set.
The Good: The introduction of new characters into the show has definitely been a good thing. As soon as Amy and Leonard were alone together I started smiling. New comedy dynamics are always intriguing if nothing else. I wouldn't say what followed was particularly good or bad. I liked that Leonard brought up Priya again and Amy's self confident obliviousness has its moments. The major news to come out of the plot was of course about Shamy. Amy refers to Sheldon as her "kinda, sorta, boyfriend" which makes sense from what we know about them. But it was the end of the episode that we got the first hint of Sheldon's sexuality as he yells at Leonard saying "She is not for you!" In typical fashion this was not followed up on and I could easily see this turning out to not be what it seems. Sheldon might simply feel Amy is too good for Leonard or just want to protect his friendship from all the relationship angst he has seen going on around him. But it is possible that the writers have decided now is the time to begin inching Sheldon toward sex and all the hilarity that might ensue.
Meanwhile Howard and Bernadette pick up on the argument that ended their relationship (216). They couldn't live together back then and it was Howard's mother issues which caused the problem. I have to say I kind of liked the way things went here. Please read "The Bad" before you disagree too strongly with that statement. I guess I mean in terms of a sit com this was probably a sensible solution. Clearly Howard has issues and the writers have little interest in him growing and leaving the nest. So Bernadette has to be slightly beaten down as a character and agree to move in with him and suffer the weird triangle. As I noted last episode she has begun to 'do' the voice of Howard's mum and so I guess that's where that relationship is headed. Bernadette gets sucked into the Wollowitz clan.
The Bad: Now having said that if it were me writing I would opt for Howard to grow up. All the humour surrounding his mother leaves you in an uncomfortable place as a viewer. Either you laugh at him or you feel sad about the co-dependence on display. As I don't enjoy the endless jokes about dysfunction I was left cold by the whole story. So that's why I come down on the side of Bernadette sinking to their level. Realistically either she does that or she leaves Howard and I think we are better off with him in a couple.
Sheldon playing with toys was ok but it felt slightly out of character for him to purchase something against his will or in any way approach a hobby reluctantly. Then to put one of the toy trains in his mouth was entirely against his character's established germ phobia.
The writers still haven't found a way to make Amy funny on her own. As with Howard and his mum we kind of get the same joke over and over and over again. I do think there is value in her as someone to stand up to Sheldon and snuggle up to Penny. But I think she is better in smaller doses or reacting to a situation rather than dictating one. She remains like Sheldon in that sense. The writers feed her character pretty consistently but the more she talks on obliviously the less fun things tend to be.
Comic Highlight: Probably the opening joke where Sheldon tries to imply he should get the last dumpling because in Thailand the final bite goes to the most valued member of the group. Penny stuffs it in her mouth much to Sheldon's chagrin and then she announces "Thank you all for this high honour."
In Conclusion: This is one of those times when I feel especially nuanced in my writing. I personally wouldn't build two plots around Howard and Amy's issues. But if you were going to then these weren't bad attempts.
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