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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 16 - The Vacation Solution

6 March 2012

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Sheldon is forced to take some vacation against his will. He decides to spend it in Amy's lab but is annoyed when she asks him to do simple tasks. Bernadette's family want Howard to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.  

Good: I liked the vacation plot as an idea. Sheldon would of course see time away from physics as a waste of it. As usual the writers came up with a clever example from the real world (Richard Feynman) to inspire him to spend time in Amy's lab. The way the story played out was very basic, though I suppose any time that Sheldon actually apologises is something like progress.

The Bad: If we just talk about the comedy then there just wasn't too much to Sheldon and Amy's conflict. They bickered a bit but never created a funny scenario to play with. The second time he fainted at the sight of blood was too silly to be believable. As was the suggestion that he had kept a Tamagotchi alive for all this time.  

In terms of story I didn't think much was done to flesh out Sheldon's arrogance. We know that he thinks he is a genius but he should have enough logic to know some basic facts. Of course he wouldn't be able to dissect a brain without first studying what each tiny part of it was called or practising with easier tasks first. It feels simplistic to have him claim he can do anything and ignore the obvious gap in knowledge he would first have to overcome before his genius would take hold. I know it might sound like I'm splitting hairs but I think his arrogance wasn't funny here because of this plot hole.

The Howard-Bernadette story had even less to it. Her family would like a pre-nup and he is a bit uncomfortable with it. That's it. On another show we might expect an episode where he actually meets her Dad. Or perhaps he would have an actual argument against the pre-nup that we could hear about. Instead we just get the usual "implied" jokes about their lives. Hearing how scary her Dad is is only ever going to be half as funny as seeing it. As with many of their stories this just petered out with no conclusion. We may revisit it somewhere down the road but these little threads never seem to pay off as they did on a show like Friends.

Now I use that example specifically because I thought about Friends when Leonard and Penny talked about marriage. When Ross and Rachel first talk of marriage (220) it's used as a lovely organic moment of their affection growing and their thoughts changing with it. As Leonard and Penny talked it struck me that they have zero chemistry and in fact he looks like he is afraid to touch her. Of course not all TV romances should look the same but this complete absence of affection is one of the reasons their relationship struggles don't make for great television.

Comic Highlight: Sheldon had a couple of good lines as he always does. I laughed at him verbalising his excitement about being in Amy's lab only to retort "Way to kill the mood" when she said that it would be romantic. Later I also enjoyed him claiming that he was "trembling with confidence!" as he prepared to slice into a brain.

In Conclusion: This was a flat episode which continued themes we've seen many times before.

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  • Notice that Amy essentially forces him to apologise, by not putting up with his non-apologies. it seems suitable that she is possibly the only person in the series who has been shown to know how to handle him this way. The other two approved ways of dealing with Sheldon on the show are (a) "knuckle under" or (b) insult him constantly e.g. Leslie Winkle's "dumbass" etc.

    Posted by Faheem Mitha, 20/03/2012 5:06pm (7 years ago)

  • Interested To hear your take on this. Days after I said tbbt never does character development for Sheldon, he gives an actual apology!

    Posted by Goffy, 20/03/2012 5:05pm (7 years ago)

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