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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 5 - The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary

27 March 2012

Synopsis: Sheldon has an eidetic memory and it means he doesn’t play games like “Mystic Warlords of Ka’a” because it offers no challenge to him. Raj tries to convince him to sign up for a tournament and only convinces him when they learn that Will Wheaton has also signed up. It seems Sheldon holds a grudge against Wheaton and seeks revenge. Meanwhile Howard recalls a pact which he made with Leonard. They both agreed that should they get a hot girlfriend, they would ask her to set the other up with one of their friends. So reluctantly Penny agrees.

The Good: Now this is more like it. Since Penny and Leonard got together the plots are starting to flow more naturally with great results. The idea of a pact between Howard and Leonard makes perfect sense. Sit coms thrive on new situations and developments. The guys were all lonely and now Leonard is with Penny. So this new development brings all sorts of benefits to the show.

Now Penny has an obvious reason to join in with what the guys are up. The scene where Leonard tells her about the pact was a great example of how this simple development can bestow so many benefits. Her reaction to hearing she was involved in a pact with Howard was natural and funny. But we also got Leonard pointing out that “I sure as hell wasn’t going to bring it up before sex.”

These simple scenes seem like a part of a life and yet the humour oozes out of them without seeming contrived. For once Howard was pretty blameless in going on a bad date, he tried his hardest to find something to connect with Bernadette on. Their shared parental issues was a nice little twist ending and overall this was a pleasant B plot.

The A plot was of course Sheldon acting out The Wrath of Khan and trying to take revenge on one Will Wheaton. Periodically I feel the need to point out that Sheldon is a comedic work of art. I don’t think it’s premature to say he should be right up there in the pantheon of great sit com characters. He is a unique creation because most memorable sit com characters are either fully rounded individuals or one-note jokes. Sheldon is neither. He is a deliberate caricature but the writers put such care and attention into his every interaction that the “one-note” of his autistic-like behaviour continues to be fun to watch time after time. Most plaudits though, with good reason will go to Jim Parsons for an immaculate performance. He is at his best here, constantly belittling others, always reacting to the statement in front of him, thinking only of himself. His comic timing is excellent and his delivery of his long speeches is exquisite.

This plot was particularly good value because it allowed him to showcase his thirst for revenge and his softer side together. Sit com characters need more than one tone to play and never does either seem an unconvincing tone for Sheldon. Will Wheaton is a superb choice as Sheldon’s idol. In The Next Generation he was the boy genius, skinny and bland, just as Sheldon would have been. And now as an adult he is just a normal guy, not a big star who might have overshadowed their scenes together. Sheldon delights of course in linking himself to The Wrath of Khan and taking great pleasure in living out that particular fantasy as his revenge draws near. The use of Wheaton’s grandmother as his excuse is perfect too. We know of Sheldon’s fondness for his Grandmother (217 for one example) and so it touches on a plausible topic which could soften him.

With the plot structure so perfectly in place it only needed a few good jokes to get the ball rolling and Raj was on hand to help out. His trash talking was really fun, particularly as his victories had nothing to do with him. It’s a sign of great comedy when the line “Problem Will Wheaton?” can make you laugh. Even the introduction for this plot was strong with Raj trying to explain that he wanted to win the $500 prize. “Do you need it” asks Sheldon “to buy a less disturbing sweater vest?”

The Wrath of Khan quotes work well too as you don’t need to have seen the movie to understand what they mean. Sheldon’s excited delivery of them and Raj’s non-plussed reactions made them clear and humorous. In a nice touch Raj pointed out that Wheaton wasn’t in the same cast as those in Wrath of Khan which is what you would expect him to do. Sheldon’s moment of revenge is terrific as he launches into his “The year was 1995…” speech much to everyone’s bemusement. Stuart has become a really solid supporting character and he plays his unaffected reactions to Sheldon’s behaviour well. But Wheaton’s deception was the icing on the cake. It was completely unexpected and leaves open the delicious possibility of a sequel, hopefully with Sheldon going to ludicrous lengths to get his revenge.

The Bad: Penny and Leonard looked unkind not helping Howard and Bernadette out with conversation. It seemed out of character and unnatural. Sheldon’s eidetic memory will cause me some issues if he doesn’t continue to display it in future episodes. It’s certainly an ability which suits him to a tee and seems plausible. However its sudden appearance is one of those sit com conveniences which can gradually irritate if it isn’t brought into the show as part of its reality.

Comic Highlight: “Problem Will Wheaton?”

In Conclusion: A terrific episode for Sheldon, the writers find a tone and purpose for him which suits him like no other. The details were all good, the B plot was good, the jokes were good. I can ask for no more, for now.

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  • I'd like to point out that Wil Wheaton was wearing a Penny Arcade shirt, which is a delightful in joke for the super geeks. (Like me.) But yes, also a good episode as a whole. I loved Howard stuffing the kerchiefs (sp?) back into his sleeve when Benadette shoots down his magic trick. Classic.

    Posted by Cordia, 27/10/2009 10:04pm (7 years ago)

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