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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 9 - The Boyfriend Complexity

24 February 2013

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Penny's father comes to visit. He was so happy that Penny had found a respectable boyfriend that she told him she was back with Leonard. He plays along with the charade with much glee. Meanwhile Howard, Bernadette and Raj all drink together while Raj is monitoring a telescope.

The Good: It was nice to see Penny's father brought into the story. It always helps to see a character's family to help imagine them as a real person. The Leonard-Penny romance also gets another detail-less airing which is better than nothing.

The stories were generally pleasant and innocuous though. The banter about super heroes was fun and the guys disbelief that Penny could actually be interested in Leonard again was used to good effect. I also very much appreciated Leonard and Penny being smart enough not to include Sheldon in their lies. For a horrible moment I thought we were in for a ten minute scene of him going through his list of Penny's annoying habits. Bernadette's impression of Howard's mum was really good.

The Bad: It's those lack of details that make this plot kind of dull. When Penny's father finds out the truth he begs Leonard not to give up on her. Why? What is it about Leonard that he likes so much? Is it a personal bond that he has formed? Is it Leonard's genuine love for Penny that he appreciates? Does he see some quality that Penny clearly needs from him but can't yet see? No. It's that Leonard has a good job and is college educated. The writers haven't thought past the basic baseball card information about Leonard to structure his relationship with Penny. It's a waste of so much potential.

Leonard remains a borderline pathetic character. Not only does he throw himself into forcing kisses on Penny but he goes so far as to tell her that he loves her repeatedly. It makes him look so desperate and foolish because when he last said those words to her she broke up with him (319). Raj also jokes about something Leonard used to say about his relationship: "our babies will be smart and beautiful." When you actually imagine Leonard saying those words it's actually a heartbreaking thing. Considering Leonard never thought he would be with a beautiful girl those words were the hope for his future. Uh! There's so much this show is missing out on.

Speaking of which the whole "fake boyfriend" plot is a sit com classic. But the jokes come from introducing the fake situation as real to your friends. In other words Howard, Sheldon and Raj needed to see them together and be surprised by it and then their attempts to make it seem real would been much funnier.

I haven't yet enjoyed Bernadette's "I'm ditsy about my highly dangerous lab work" gags which they keep slipping in. As with anything in comedy the key is to make them believable. She delivers them just fine but they sound too much like the kind of incompetence that would never be tolerated. The rest of the Raj gets drunk and kisses Howard stuff felt like the writers had run out of ideas.

Comic Highlight: Howard suggests Penny was trying to send Leonard a message by kissing him in front of her Dad: "Yeah this man is not my father. I'm being held hostage so I'm going to do something insane in the hopes that you will call 911."

In Conclusion: Another wasted opportunity but it was passable entertainment nonetheless.

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  • Oh well... it seems critics will be critics, always trying to see the negative, however delusional. I find it ridiculous that TVcritic seems to fail to distinguish an accelerating-quality season like this with a strong continuity with supporting characters (and bringing several family members, like Priya, and Penny's father, in this episode), from the lesser-quality monotony of past seasons. Surely, that deserves higher marks!

    And what TVcritic fails to understand is the idea that, to quote "The Bad Fish Paradigm", a good show (or fish) is to be "slow down and savoured"... Leonard and Penny's relationship works well at this decelerated pace so as to milk out hilarious ideas such as this episode, with the over-the-top acting in front of Penny's father. The criticisms just don't seem to stop, do they? I should point out that one of Tvcritic's past scathing criticisms was on the prominence of Sheldon... and we can see that Sheldon has not at all been the focus of the plots in the season's episodes so far.

    Viewer score: 100 / 100

    Posted by Daniel, 24/02/2013 11:28am (7 years ago)

  • In the first place, it’s Penny who“forces” a kiss on a surprised Leonard, insensitively involving him in deceiving her father and then arrogantly telling Leonard if “I whistled, you’d come running.” When Leonard turns the table on Penny by “forcing kisses” too – something that Penny ends by finally being truthful with her father – he shows a bit more spirit than usual.

    Raj’s mocking of Leonard’s Season One heartfelt optimism (“Our babies will be smart and beautiful”) felt inappropriate and mean-spirited. Leonard gets far more than his fair share of ridicule – given that his companions are a spectacularly unsuccessful ladies man, a fellow unable to speak to women sober and a socially oblivious snob. I like these guys but I wonder if they like each other.

    I’m not defending Leonard in this episode though. His actions felt strange and inappropriate throughout. Penny was/is the love of life. The end of their relationship is still fresh. There must residual emotions of love and loss in Leonard.

    Yet he treated the whole fake boyfriend role for laughs, No sign that he’s helping Penny – out of love for her – to help her fool her father despite his feelings. There’s no sign that his romance meant all that much to him.

    And if doesn’t matter to Leonard, why should it matter to us?

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by jstrange, 30/01/2013 6:18am (7 years ago)

  • "Was anybody else a bit uncomfortable with Leonard kissing Penny when she clearly didn't want to? He used to be so invariably considerate and respectful."

    No. She did drag him into it without asking him, so she deserved it. Besides, Penny used to be kind and likeable.

    Posted by MJSC, 20/11/2010 6:28pm (9 years ago)

  • Spot on of course

    Posted by The TV Critic, 19/11/2010 1:22pm (9 years ago)

  • Was anybody else a bit uncomfortable with Leonard kissing Penny when she clearly didn't want to? He used to be so invariably considerate and respectful.

    Posted by The G man, 19/11/2010 11:57am (9 years ago)

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