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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-???

49
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Viewer
100
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Episode 8 - The 21-Second Excitation

20 February 2013

Pillow fight! (Credit CBS)

Synopsis: The boys are off to a special screening of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sheldon thinks they should be in the queue far earlier than they are and is proven right when Will Wheaton pinches the last four places for his friends. Meanwhile Penny and Bernadette are having a girls night and Amy invites herself along.

The Good: It makes sense that Amy would be like Sheldon, how else could he tolerate her? However the writers try hard here to write her as a surrogate Sheldon in scenes with Penny. While this largely fails there are moments where it succeeds. Amy's literal interpretation of the rules of Truth or Dare made for a fun couple of lines. It also led nicely to Bernadette asking Penny about her feelings for Leonard and the question of their future being raised again.

The Bad: The problem with raising that question is that there is no good answer. After season one the writers gave up characterising Leonard and Penny and focussed strictly on Sheldon. Even when they were together Leonard and Penny didn't seem like a real couple. They were infrequently affectionate and no stories were dedicated to why they were good for each other. Since the breakup we have had even less time spent on exploring their relationship. It's a waste of a whole dynamic the show could use to draw in viewers.

Back to Amy and the writers are exposed a bit here. The genius of Sheldon is in what makes him unlike Amy. He has been socialising against his well for years and has built up a desire to use Leonard, Howard and Raj for his own benefit. They listen to his musings, they discuss his hobbies, they play rock band with him, they bowl with him and so on. He has a need for a social life and his arrogance means he learns very little about how his behaviour affects others.

Amy is presented as having no social skills or understanding at all. While that can work (as with Truth or Dare), more often than not the writers just had her say inappropriate things. Again Sheldon wouldn't have attempted homosexuality to fit in socially, he would have dismissed it as unsanitary. The writers don't yet know what they want to do with Amy so they have her crossing boundaries she shouldn't. She talks about a Vietnamese girl dying in front of her with no emotion and then demands Penny remove her nail polish despite calling it pretty. I don't understand either reaction beyond them being socially abnormal.

So to the boys who engaged in tedious argument for extended periods. I do appreciate using Will Wheaton as Sheldon's nemesis but I would prefer he be used for more grandiose comedy and not mundane stories like this one. Sheldon stealing the reels is out of character. We see earlier that he is a good citizen who will happily follow the instructions of someone in authority (when Penny prank calls him) and so he should always be obedient to the law unless he reaches a plausible juncture of irrationality. This wasn't a big enough story to justify the final chase scene of silliness.  

Comic Highlight: Amy's misunderstanding of Truth or Dare was fun and the best moment of the episode. But for subtlety I liked Leonard complaining that the man at the gas station made him buy a Gatorade every time he needed to pee. "It's a vicious circle" he whined.

In Conclusion: There is promise in Amy yet but they need to define her. I'm not sure there is promise in Leonard and Penny anymore which is a shame. 

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  • I cannot BELIEVE Mr. TVcritic is dismissing fine episodes like these with a failing grade... shame on him!!! I happen to think Amy is the hilarious fresh change the Big Bang Theory needs... it's clear her pattern is intense pragmatism with a biological perspective.

    I'm rather disappointed to see the inconsistency of TVcritic giving higher scores to earlier episodes that did not advance the plot (with rather mundane stand-still topics as that) than to fun, truly plot-advancing episodes like these, with the interaction with new characters that he so vehemently praised as "standard successful sit-com formula" back in 2.19.

    Viewer score: 100 / 100

    Posted by Daniel, 20/02/2013 8:09am (7 years ago)

  • "against his well" should be "against his will".

    Posted by Faheem Mitha, 07/02/2012 4:16pm (8 years ago)

  • Hi C, thanks for commenting. That's a good spot. But I don't think TBBT is trying to be a subtle show. If the writers want us to care about Leonard and Penny they have to make their relationship clear and relatable. It just hasn't been for a long time and it would need more than small moments to fix.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 29/08/2011 8:37pm (8 years ago)

  • i actually noticed something that could address your conclusion of 'I'm not sure there is promise in Leonard and Penny anymore which is a shame. ' i watch tbbt by streaming online so i can't assure the accuracy of the timing but at roughly 11.41, while the four of them were queuing to get into the screening of indiana jones, leonard was shown holding onto the book 'Eat, Pray, Love'. this is with reference to the start of this episode where Penny exclaims to Leonard about how she 'cannot believe how anyone has never read Eat Pray Love before'. i believe this subtly portrays how much Leonard truly loves Penny in which he tries to understand her likes and all. i could be overanalysing though, just thought it was interesting and thought provoking, so there you go!

    Posted by C, 25/08/2011 1:08pm (8 years ago)

  • It's a shame that the writers can't write reasonably normal characters to act as a contrast to the odd ones. Penny did that job for the boys for a long time and here she does it for two very odd female characters. Will Wheaton is evil, comic book guy used to be quite normal but is now a super nerd. When Bernadette was introduced she was painted as very kooky and now Amy is on another level of strange, anti-social personality. With only Penny as a relatavily typical twenty-something American, the show is starting to feel a little bit like a freak show. I guess that also taps into the fact that the main characters (especially Leonard and Raj) are very underdeveloped.
    Really good point you make about Amy's reactions being merely socially abnormal but not seeming to fit a pattern.

    Posted by The G man, 13/11/2010 5:40am (9 years ago)

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