Episode 18 - The Werewolf Transformation
7 March 2012
Synopsis: Howard heads off for his NASA training and finds it all pretty tough. Sheldon's regular barber is sick and he refuses to let anyone else cut his hair. He begins to believe that the order he has brought to his life is meaningless.
The Good: I have mixed feelings about the Howard story. I'm not a fan of stories which humiliate the geeks for being well, geeks. However astronaut training should be vigorous and Howard's shell shocked acting was excellent. The conclusion where Bernadette and his mother independently rushed to his side when they heard how he was struggling was interesting. In a sense there is something positive there where Howard draws people to support him in his endeavours. In another way it was just a cheap continuation of one of the running punch lines which the writers lean on. I guess we will have to wait and see if he actually ends up in space. I'm glad he didn't quit based on puke and poop.
The Bad: The Sheldon story was tedious and then became even more of a waste. The haircut concept tapped into Sheldon's sheltered childhood and was pretty dull. He is afraid of a new barber and then moans and moans about it. At this stage of the show's development any dedicated viewer could probably have written the script.
Then the writers decided to do something more interesting and have Sheldon abandon his whole philosophy of order and explore chaos. Unfortunately the episode was half over already so there was no chance that he was going to actually question anything seriously. Instead we got some very broad bongo-based jokes which felt beneath the show and Sheldon himself.
Comic Highlight: In a humourless episode Amy stepped up to inject a couple of laughs towards the end. Penny begs Sheldon to let her cut his hair and he asks Amy's opinion. "There's not a hair on my body I wouldn't let this woman trim" she reassures to disturbed looks from Penny and Leonard. It's good enough for Sheldon who gets up to leave and thanks Amy for letting him sleep on her couch. "There's only so many times a woman can say 'How about the bed?'" she notes. The writers are getting good mileage out of Amy's sexuality and actually had her disappearing to masturbate early in the episode.
In Conclusion: Each season I hope The Big Bang Theory is going to turn a corner in terms of quality but it still hasn't happened. After a run of good episodes (507-14) these last four have been poor. More than that they have been forgettable and complacent. It seems like the writers don't really discern between what works well and what feels tired and generic.
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