Episode 17 - The Toast Derivation
1 March 2011
Synopsis: Leonard starts hanging out at Raj's apartment to spend time with Priya. Sheldon resents having to leave his home and so invites Kripke, Stuart and Zach round to hang out. Meanwhile Amy and Bernadette try to comfort Penny over the "loss" of Leonard.
The Good: There was a lot to like about this episode. The producers seem to have embraced the idea that the show needs more characters and the results have been solid. Although there wasn't much depth we managed to explore Penny's feelings for Leonard, Leonard's relationship with Priya and Sheldon's attitude to friendship all in one go.
The way Howard and Raj concluded that they actually enjoy spending time with Sheldon was particularly nice. By presenting Leonard, Howard and Raj as laid back and diminutive it has always seemed believable that they would let Sheldon boss them round. But it was nice to see them actually discussing their eccentric friend with affection and pointing out the fun stories and anecdotes they have collected from their association.
I also liked Sheldon being forced to adapt a little to his Leonard-centric group and realise that he has a pretty good social life. True to his character though he wouldn't adapt too much and still managed to insult Priya and complain about everything at Raj's place. I really smiled at the gathering of Kripke, Stuart and Zach as almost literally the only three men we know in Sheldon's life. The comedy never quite took off but there was obvious fun to be had in Sheldon trying to interest them in his version of fun and failing. The line about Sheldon offending Bill Gates was pretty good.
Finally we had Amy and Bernadette trying to cheer Penny up which was pleasant stuff. I do like seeing Penny's life fleshed out a little and referencing the snowflake Leonard brought back from the North Pole was good continuity.
The Bad: None of the three stories exactly took off but they were all adequate. The writers still try a little too hard with Amy. I think better definition of who she is would avoid us having to wonder why she would think chloroforming Penny was a good idea. We didn't hear anything from Bernadette about the status of her relationship with Howard which was a shame.
There was a moment when Zach found it hard to introduce himself and Kripke kept lisping the word "Raffle" when it occurred to me what a cheap group of characters these were! Kripke's lisp is not something I think will ever sound convincing and the writers should avoid making Zach look implausibly stupid. But the real sad story is Stuart who like Leonard has had his character significantly dumbed-down over the course of the series.
Comic Highlight: In one of those lines where Sheldon's imagination has run wild he argues with Leonard about the horrors of the unknown waiting for them at Raj's apartment. Out of nowhere he asks "What if he serves haggis and blood pudding?" It's such an unlikely idea and yet you can see how Sheldon got there. He likes to stay at home because he can control his environment and have things the way he likes them. So logically he thinks literally anything could be going on at Raj's place.
In Conclusion: This was a very pleasant episode of comedy with enough character focus to keep me happy.
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