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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-???


Episode 11 - The Justice League Recombination

18 December 2010

Credit CBS

Synopsis: Penny is back with Zach and the guys mock his lack of intellect. They apologise for being mean and he accompanies them to the comic book store. Sheldon spots the chance to use Zach as Superman in their Justice League of America ensemble on New Years Eve. Zach agrees and Penny is upset as it means she will have to go with them as Wonder Woman. What is really upsetting her is that she is only with Zach to avoid being alone and misses Leonard.

The Good: As usual silly costumes make for some fun gags and Sheldon is of course thoroughly immersed in playing the Flash (see Comic Highlight).

The Bad: This failed on pretty much every level which was a shame. In theory I applaud the idea of focussing on Penny and Leonard's relationship but there is no authenticity to it anymore. The writers have made less and less effort to demonstrate any actual bond between them. Leonard still treats her like she is too good for him and her feelings for him have returned out of nowhere. The result is that her emotions seem fabricated and the story falls flat.

It isn't as if there is much of a conflict in the story either. There's nothing stopping Penny from dumping Zach and going out with Leonard again. If you were to simply read the situation as if it were real you would have to conclude that Penny is reluctant to be with Leonard because she isn't that attracted to him or thinks she can do better.

Zach was inadequately characterised here and just played the one-note dumb jock guy. There was no hint of why he would want to bond with the guys. A simple line or two about his lack of friends or longing for geekier pursuits would have helped. He didn't play the "dumb guy" with much skill but it's hard to be too down on his acting when the script was so basic. One line in particular scraped the bottom of the barrel. Howard eavesdropped on Penny and Leonard's conversation and concluded that Super-Man wasn't getting laid tonight (which was in itself was too prescient of him). Zach looked around before remembering what his own costume was and expressed comic frustration. It was a dumb joke and the fact that Zach didn't ask why Howard thought that underlined the lack of definition to who he was.

The scene where the gang walked away from men breaking into a car was a sad misfire too. Surely one of them should have immediately called the police. Ignoring basic morality like that in favour of further mocking the geeks is poor writing. Finally the producers went to great effort to put into effect the episode's best line (see Comic Highlight). They put far more effort into simulating Sheldon being the Flash than they did into the rest of the story.

Comic Highlight: Sheldon is dressed as the Flash and Leonard as the Green Lantern. Sheldon is jogging up and down to simulate the speed at which the Flash would be moving if he were simply pacing up and down waiting for latecomers as Sheldon is. Leonard says "Relax Sheldon" to which he angrily replies "I'm not Sheldon, I'm the Flash! And now I'm going to the Grand Canyon to scream in frustration. (Turns one way and then back again) I'm back."

In Conclusion: What often saves The Big Bang Theory from being a lame duck is the sharpness of its writing. In this case the writing was lazy and the result was a lousy episode which felt as phoned in as Penny's feelings for Leonard.


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  • Hi there,

    I think Bing Bang episodes are very interesting and comic and it’s fun to watch it but there are so many things which are starting to annoy especially in many American series. Well, there is all the time talk about Einstein as if he invented the whole universe, Einstein’s theories which had been long time abounded by Tesla as false. As for myself, I have nothing against them but it seems little bit inappropriate to mention Einstein or Edison or Marconi every time if the whole gratitude deserve another person NIKOLA TESLA. He has been never mentioned and with purpose forgotten in any of American series and especially in society what so ever, all the time it’s been circumnavigated around him and his patents and origins of inventions. Americans are proud to tell the world as they have invented AC current, magnetism, wireless telecommunication, Tesla Coil, Neon lights, Radar, Robotic, time traveling (Philadelphia project) etc. Well I know it is big issue for Americans now to understand how that Slavic (Serbs, Bosniaks, Croats) people are clever enough to deal with inventions at the same level as the European Americans or to do it even better. Without Tesla they would have been living till now with Edison DC System in 19th century if Tesla hadn’t given American the inventions of 21 century.
    Now those four guys who are acting there as physicist and electro engineers, have been mentioning during all the time Albert Einstein, things as radar, neon light, wireless communication, AC system but its inventor hasn’t been mentioned at all. Sheldon biggest Germ phobia is exact replica of Tesla condition during his life. It lacks a lot of true and originality in episodes when is Tesla simply expelled, and Einstein is praised as God of Physics, but it is never mentioned that his wife (Yugoslav) was standing almost behind his inventions! I doubt that even main producer knows about Tesla at all, and that he is illiterate about him and his invention as the rest of Americans.
    It would be grateful if we Slavic people could see repelling injustices which has been done and make it right at least in some series!

    Proud Bosniak-Serb-Croat

    Posted by Denin, 20/03/2012 4:21pm (8 years ago)

  • All good to know and thanks for the votes on "Best of 2010."

    You are right that if we accept Leonard as he is then he does stand up for himself sometimes. I agree about Raj and Sheldon, there are so many potential stories there.

    I fear the writers will try and keep them all the same for season after season.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 18/12/2010 6:36pm (10 years ago)

  • I think it is generally very hard to develop characters in comedy series.

    Consider the fact that most of the fans bond with the characters and continue watching if they really care for them. So developing (and thus changing) the char is dangerous.

    Of course, with the comparison to real life in mind, the characters have to develop in some way.

    But in Leonards case, I honestly hope he will stay unsecure in general, as unsecurity and social awkwardness are main features of the so called "highly skilled" as I am considered one (and thus counting on Leonard as some kind of a role model).

    So, counting myself as one of the main target viewers, I prefer my nerds socially unskilled with little spots to shine as Leonard when he stands up against Penny when they fight over the guitarist staying on Pennys couch for a few weeks.
    And believe me, risking a breakup or just a longer fight (with your companion who you consider at least a goddess) is highly unusual for someone so unsecure.

    For the future, I'd like to see Sheldon struggling with his surpressed feelings and Raj slowly overcome his selected mutism. Howard can stay the creepy sex addict, but I'd like to see Carol Ann Susi making a physical appearance as his mother, maybe for the season finale.

    And if they ever make it to an epic and preplanable final season conclusion, I hope for a "Scrubs - My Finale" JD/Elliot ending for Leonard and Penny.

    Posted by Michael, 18/12/2010 5:29pm (10 years ago)

  • Hey, no worries about the English, it's fine. And I'm glad you have a passion for the story.

    I've long been intrigued by Leonard as a character. He has never really risen above his fear of women or "cooler" people and gained much self confidence.

    I always assumed that the arc of his story would take him into a more self confident direction but it hasn't. In many ways that is a more realistic situation. He has been pretty consistent in his behaviour (with the odd exception as you point out). So I've always been torn about whether his character was good or bad for the show.

    In general I think it weakens the show not to do more with him but then again I don't usually doubt the authenticity of how he acts.

    I could see many ways to tell the story of Penny falling for him and preferring to spend time with someone who clearly loves her a lot rather than with guys who see her as just another blonde. But I don't think the writers have ever put enough effort into her character. I don't have a problem with her acting at all.

    I would love to see the show develop all its characters a little more. There is so much more the show could accomplish with only a few tweaks.

    Thanks again for the posts, it's a pleasure to discuss TV with people who care :-)

    Posted by The TV Critic, 18/12/2010 2:31pm (10 years ago)

  • Drat! ;)

    As I already pointed out, I liked that one. So I analysed your "Bad" clause really intensely as I'm always the first to admit to myself missing some key facts.

    Even so, this time I found the emotional red line between Leonard and Penny more authentic than a few episodes before.

    I identify myself with behavioural pattern parts of the cast as I am kind of a nerd myself and many times, I find the acting comprehensible(which is I think because of the particular acting is then not written by a nerd beholder, but a beholdee).

    Leonard samples most of the times my personal approach to women, in general being nerdy, but sometimes at least a little successful.

    Thus, I hated the way Leonard treated Penny when her father was in town which was in my eyes absolutely out of character.

    This time, he deales with her in exactly the kind of protective ignorance and shallow joy I and countless left/heartbroken nerds all around the word know and use.

    And Penny becomes more lifelike by (in my opinion) great acting from Kaley Cuoco, as she expresses her pain, lonelyness and uncertainty in every look and word during this episode.

    Returning (as in "no more recognizable before") feelings for Leonard, loving him without seeing a future for them due to their disparities and thus torturing herself with only longing for him but not admitting it to spare him emotional pain because of her "relapse", and so on...

    I've not only been told by my ex-wife about exactly those kind of feelings in a woman..

    Anyway, as usual I am with you in the car scene in the end and the strange behaviour of Zach, but at least the Zach-storyline served the purpose of some funny lines/scenes and the nicely multilayer self reflection inducing accusation of being bullies.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I really had the urge to express my opinion on this one.

    (And also sorry for possible language mistakes, english is not my mother tongue)

    Posted by Michael, 18/12/2010 1:09pm (10 years ago)

  • Sorry man, that's just the generic score I give all posts before the review goes up.

    On the plus side I am one of the few critics still writing about the show seriously :-) And Sheldon is getting serious consideration from me as Comedy Actor of the year...

    Posted by The TV Critic, 18/12/2010 10:42am (10 years ago)

  • I'm always looking for your review of my favourite series as you pretty much resemble the nagging little voice inside my head telling me what I missed even if I liked the episode in general.
    Even so, I am glad you rated this episode relativly high(at least numerically) as I really liked that one.

    Posted by Michael, 18/12/2010 12:23am (10 years ago)

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