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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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/100

Episode 6 - The Irish Pub Formulation

30 October 2010

For shame! (The Big Bang Theory. Credit CBS)

Synopsis: Raj's sister Priya is in town for the weekend and Raj reminds his friends to keep their hands off her. We soon learn that she and Leonard hooked up once before and intend to do so again. Leonard has to keep her a secret from Sheldon though and of course fails. Soon the betrayal spreads around the group and retaliatory revelations take place.

The Good: Bringing in family members is almost always a good idea in sit coms as it helps root that character in a real relationship we can all relate to. The writers did nothing with Priya but she may come back one day. Her leap over the couch to hide from Sheldon was a nice visual gag.

I did enjoy how Leonard's deceit fell apart just as Sheldon predicted but in an entirely organic reason. By not watching a TV show (Caprica) the others knew he would have watched Leonard immediately drew attention to himself. It was a clever piece of writing because in their insular geeky world this news marked Leonard's behaviour out as instantly peculiar.

The Bad: If you don't know what I'm going to say then you just aren't paying close enough attention.

Raj's sister comes to town, she sleeps with Leonard who is betraying Howard by doing so. Who was the plot focussed primarily on though? Yes that's right, Sheldon.

I've never quite seen a sitcom producer as ruthless as Chuck Lorre. Two and a Half Men is in its eighth season and remains the most watched comedy on TV. This is despite having a basic formula with little change in eight seasons. Charlie remains the womaniser, Alan the loser and Jake the slacker. Lorre hits those notes over and over and over and it works. Here he takes a plot surrounding the other three characters and just feeds everything to Sheldon. Every twist in the tale leads back to Sheldon being fussy, Sheldon being angry, Sheldon being silly. Just feed Sheldon is the formula and it works.

Sadly it doesn't create emotionally or intellectually or even humorously satisfying work. Sheldon continues to excel at portraying a man with unusual and particular habits and many a moment still sparkles (see Comic Highlight) with that ability to bring life out of simple ideas. But surely this story could have address some other issues?

For a start we have Raj who is able to talk in front of his sister (a woman). Yet that is ignored, as is the question of what his family think of his extended stay in the US. This could have been the right episode to have him address whether he wants to become a citizen one day and how his family would feel. Instead we got jokes about cows and Native Americans.

Then you have Leonard who last episode was exposed as feeling quite lonely and at times miserable. Here he tries to cling onto casual sex and considers leaving his country to have a meaningful relationship. But that story is shoved out of the way so that we could hear just how fastidious Sheldon is about skin cream.

Finally you have Howard who last episode set up Leonard with one of his girlfriends' friends and has now been betrayed. The whole issue of betrayal and friendship descended into the kind of manufactured shock jokes that made Friends so increasingly irritating during its last few seasons (see 704 or 809). Yes it's funny in theory that Sheldon put bugs in Leonard's food or Howard made Raj do his laundry but the fact that these incidents were so clearly made up just for that argument dulls their impact.

They are overusing the Sheldon giggle each episode. It's starting to seem implausibly forced.

Comic Highlight: Sheldon is playing an old text based game and using his imagination to get fully involved. He narrates his typing to an uninterested Leonard: "Go West. 'A troll blocks your passage.' Ok fasten your seat belts! Kill troll. 'With what?' With sword. 'You don't have the sword.' Good golly it's as if it's actually happening to me!" His enthusiasm sells it beautifully and you can completely believe he is utterly absorbed.

In Conclusion: Feed Sheldon. Feed Sheldon. Feed Sheldon.

('DiggThis)

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Comments

  • "could have address" probably should read "could have addressed"

    Posted by Faheem Mitha, 06/02/2012 6:58am (8 years ago)

  • I remember that game but can't remember the name of it..

    Posted by talla3, 04/11/2010 3:17am (9 years ago)

  • Thanks Marianna. I'm not sure what game it is. I imagine it was just a generic conglomeration of ideas from those games. I used to play one like that about killing a vampire. It did make me wonder why the vampire had stakes, crosses and garlic lying around his castle.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 02/11/2010 11:25am (9 years ago)

  • What text based game was Sheldon playing in this episode?

    Posted by Jeremy, 01/11/2010 9:26pm (9 years ago)

  • Actually, the actress that plays Penny has been missing from the episodes because she broke her leg in a horse riding accident...

    Posted by Marianna , 31/10/2010 5:28pm (9 years ago)

  • Thanks guys.

    Penny has been missing for the last couple of episodes. I assume either she was doing something else or they were keeping costs down.

    That's another thing I should have said about Chuck Lorre - budget wise he produces shows which operate in a studio and so are cheaper to make than some other comedies.

    I don't think they should replace Penny because I doubt they will characterise anyone else any better. I think they at least have established her friendship with the guys in a believable way and so I suggest they work with that.

    I know what you mean about Sheldon's 'sense of humour.' More often than not I enjoy his attempts at being fun but I would like it to be more consistent. It would be easy to explain how Sheldon sees relaxation and leisure time as a component of keeping his mind fresh for his important work.

    As for semantics I generally disagree. I think that breaking of the flow is part of who Sheldon is. He sees statements in a literal way for most of the time and that structure helps make a lot of what he does and says funny. I think that is one of the key components in the way he plausibly misunderstands social interactions.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 31/10/2010 10:35am (9 years ago)

  • love your reviews too!

    Totally agree that the sheldon giggle is overused (not that I ever thought it was funny). Also, although i don't think it was in this episode, I dislike the 'bazinga' thing he does. Both those things are very un-Sheldon and not particularly funny.

    I also think the humour relies too much on semantics. How many times has Sheldon interrupted a conversation by correcting someone for something very trivial? I find it disrupts the dialogue and isn't funny either.

    Did anyone actually notice Penny wasn't in the episode (was she?). She's been underused and undercharacterized and now they need a new hot neighbour...

    Posted by The G Man, 30/10/2010 6:34pm (9 years ago)

  • love your reviews! always apt and insightful. I think that the actors are becoming very comfortable with their characters and the writing is very good but as you say, this could be way more than the average comedy sitcom.

    Posted by loringalta, 30/10/2010 2:43am (9 years ago)

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