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'Big Bang Theory': Sheldon makes Penny his lab rat

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Poor Wolowitz and Koothrappali — or, as I’ve taken to calling the inseparable duo, Woloppali. With Leonard and Penny (Lenny? Pennard?) soaking up so much screen time — or rather, with their relationship soaking up so much of Sheldon’s time — Big Bang Theory‘s horny C-3PO and guileless R2-D2 were left adrift in a subplot that peaked at the very top of the episode. Namely, the mighty choice sight gag of Wolowitz walking in decked out like an Adam Lambert wannabe sporting a coif that was somehow equal parts emo and rockabilly.

But it was all downhill from there. Wearing tattoo sleeves that were both credible and completely ridiculous, Woloppali picked up the two most dead-eyed boring Hot-Topic-shopping goth girls in southern California, who dragged the guys to a tattoo parlor, where Wolowitz promptly freaked out at the mere touch of a real tattoo pen and the girls promptly left. The whole “wacky” “adventure” just made me wish all the more for Penny and Leonard’s inevitable break up so Woloppali can once again re-enter the full ensemble and not be banished to lame goth bars to make 15-year-old jokes about John Grisham. (On the plus side, I gotta say, guyliner is a surprisingly good look for Simon Helberg.)

So once again, Sheldon practically owned this episode from the start. When he discovered Penny gamely dancing to Shania Twain while making, to his horror, French toast on oatmeal day, Penny offered to make him oatmeal on French toast day. Sheldon retorted, “Dear Lord, are you still going to be here on French toast day?!” And I gotta admit, I laughed so hard I kinda snorted.

But instead of drawing comedy from Sheldon’s discomfort at Penny’s increased intrusion into his perfectly ordered existence, the episode instead had Sheldon take Leonard’s advice to “catch more flies with honey that with vinegar” as permission to treat Penny as if she was a lab rat, i.e. modifying her behavior with positive reinforcement, e.g. chocolate. This development had me torn. On the one hand, I did get a real kick out of the sight of Sheldon’s slightly creepy smile while hand-feeding Penny chocolate balls, and the bit where he got Penny to lower the register of her voice by merely repeating what she’d just said in a deeper voice was pretty darn funny.

On the other hand, Penny’s simply too smart for Sheldon’s scheme to really work; she would’ve, or she should’ve, seen through Sheldon’s ruse at least as quickly as Leonard did. Of course, if she had, we never would’ve been treated to Sheldon scolding Leonard by spraying him with water, so I guess I can put up with her (hopefully) fleeting relapse to early-season-one-pleasantly-dim Penny for that most excellent moment alone. Still, in the weeks ahead, I’d love to see Penny and Leonard flip the scales on Sheldon. One of my absolute favorite moments from the series was from last season’s finale, when Sheldon knocked on Penny’s door with his customary three-quick-bangs-and-a-terse-“Penny” and Penny returned the favor with three quick bangs of her own followed by a terse “Sheldon.” The look of shock and confusion on Sheldon’s face was simply priceless, and it’d be great to see again.

Favorite exchange:

Leonard: “I’m just saying, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Sheldon: “You can catch even more flies with manure, what’s your point?”

Raciest line: “Yes, she’s pushy, and yes he’s whipped, but that’s not the expression.”

Racy line made down right smutty by Simon Helberg’s delivery: “We each had manahhhge with sexy goth girls!”

Funniest word-of-the-day: Homunculus: “A perfectly formed miniature human being.” (Methinks Johnny Galecki appeared not exactly thrilled with having to deliver that line.)

Best end credit:Boogiepop Phantom was depicted as Oshikuru: Demon Samurai.” (UPDATE: An eagle-eyed reader — thanks Annie! — noticed that Oshikuru: Demon Samurai also made an appearance on Big Bang creator Chuck Lorre’s other CBS Monday show, Two-and-a-Half Men, suggesting the two shows exist in the same fictional universe. Does this mean Sheldon and Jon Cryer’s Alan Harper could actually meet some day?)

So Big Bang theorists, were you not digging the Woloppali-go-to-a-goth-bar subplot like me? Do you buy that Penny would so easily become Sheldon’s lab rat for a few chocolates? Seriously, should it be Lenny or Pennard? And why am I not surprised that there are already “Bazinga!” t-shirts for sale on the internet?

Image Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

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