One of my favorite things about The Big Bang Theory — the thing, in fact, that got me officially hooked on the show in the first place — is the way on occasion it casually breaks certain steadfast sitcom rules. Exhibit A: Sitcom characters are never supposed to laugh at a funny situation, even when the natural response for most human beings would be to break down in hysterics. But every so often, Penny will actually laugh at something Sheldon or Leonard has done that’s genuinely funny, and not one of those forced sitcom-y laughs, either. (This example is as it happens the aforementioned catalyst for my now rather serious Big Bang addiction.)
Exhibit B: Last night, Wolowitz actually called Sheldon on one of his countless mini-lectures on arcane scientific trivia, i.e. Sheldon’s insistence that the cricket chirping within earshot was, due to the length between chirps and the ambient temperature in the room, a snowy tree cricket. Instead of letting it pass by as a rote character tic used as a throwaway punchline, Wolowitz insisted instead that the insect had to be your run-of-the-mill field cricket. So with respective rare copies of Fantastic Four (#48, first appearance of the Silver Surfer) and Flash (#123, the classic Two Worlds issue) on the line, Wolowitz and Sheldon spent the rest of the episode hilariously trying to prove the other wrong and/or distract us from the milquetoast romantic fumblings of Penny and Leonard.
cares,” I had to wonder if he wasn’t speaking for the audience too.
Far more satisfying was the Howard Wolowitz/Sheldon Cooper showdown over whether their captured arthropod was Toby the common field cricket or Jiminy the snow tree cricket. After spending the night seeking out the insect in question — during which they actually made use of the permanently out of order elevator, forging yet another bold new frontier on the show — they took their bug to the university’s recently canned top entomologist Professor Crawley, played by guest star Lewis Black with his inimitable brand of abject fury. I mean, only Black’s aneurism-triggering line ridings could effectively sell an iffy joke like “We’re not talking Oxnard at the beach. No! We’re talking Oxnard in the onion fields!” Crawley’s verdict made history once again: The cricket was indeed Toby, not Jiminy, and Sheldon had to face the epochal event of being proved wrong. I have to say, I thought our bean poll genius took the blow rather well, all things considered, which makes me wonder if we haven’t actually heard the last of “The Jiminy Conjecture.” Then again, Sheldon also didn’t completely blow a gasket when Leonard brought home Indian food from Mumbai Palace instead of Tandoori Palace, so maybe the man who was once chased into a tree by the neighbor’s chicken is actually evolving? Slightly? Maybe?
Sheldon [Holding Flash #123]: “I lost this to Wolowitz in an ill-conceived cricket wager.”
Penny: “What, do they have Wii Cricket now? Well, that can’t be very popular.”
Favorite call back: “Ooo, big talk from a man who was once treed by a chicken.”
Least favorite moment that should not happen ever again: Extreme close-ups of massive creepy insects without proper pre-show warnings. Some people may still have nightmares about that one scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, thankyouverymuch.
So, Big Bang theorists, how’d you enjoy last night’s episode? Are you tiring of the Penny/Leonard shenanigans already? What other long-standing elements from the show would you like to see get called out and questioned? Like, for example, isn’t it time someone asked Wolowitz just how long it takes him to color coordinate his wardrobe?