OK, Big Bang theorists, I’ve been waiting pretty much the entire season to trot out this (quasi-)mathematical joke in one of my recaps of The Big Bang Theory, and finally the writers have provided an episode filled with all the right elements to make it worthy of said joke’s (questionable) distinction. [Rolls up sleeves] So here goes (seriously) nothin’: If there was ever a secret formula for a first-rate episode of The Big Bang Theory, it could easily look something like this:
(T-shirt + speaker) x (Comic book store + Stuart) x Stan Lee
Sheldon in a plaid suit
Okay, the math doesn’t really compute at all, and I am most certainly teetering precariously into Epic Start Of Recap Fail territory here, but I think y’all gather my point, right? Comic book legend Stan Lee’s visit with the boys and girl of Big Bang was one tightly constructed, laugh-packed, firing-on-all-cylinders episode, easily one of my favorites of the season. There were actually so many things to love about it, that I couldn’t fit them all in the preceding totally ingenious example of mathemati… oh hang it all, let’s just get to all my favorite parts, shall we?
Raj’s musical T-shirt — At first, I think we all wondered if this particular gimmick was going to wear out its welcome, but instead it managed to just get funnier every time Raj used it. I imagine the writer’s are cooking up more scenes in which this shirt can appear, if only because it pretty effectively mitigates the nagging issue of Raj’s selective mutism around women. My only question, really, is how Raj or the folks who made the shirt would know to program it with the the Imperial March from Star Wars, ghe Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited,” the Jeopardy! countdown, a “thhhhhibtt” raspberry sound, a “dun dun dunnnn!” music cue, the Law & Order clank clank, and an incorrect answer buzzer. Of course, now that I’ve actually typed all them out, I’m wondering how anyone wouldn’t program a musical t-shirt with all those sounds.
The use of history — The best TV sitcoms have always made great use of their own past — from “We were on a break!” on Friends to the return of Diane on Cheers — and I loved how Big Bang‘s writers used Sheldon’s gallant efforts to transport Penny to the ER against him. Since Big Bang episodes aren’t available on the net and that particular episode is long gone from my DVR, I’m not quite sure if we ever actually saw Sheldon run that red light, but the fact that he did is no shock. Nor is his belief that most of the stuff he wants to buy has not been invented yet. (I’m personally still waiting for the phone chip that you implant into that little nub of cartiledge over your ear canal, but I digress.) I am, though, a bit surprised that someone as fastidious as Sheldon would be so careless about unopened mail, and that he would believe ATMs will lead the inevitable robot rebellion, when we all know it will be an army of Teddy Ruxpins. (DO NOT CLICK ON THAT LINK. I AM NOT KIDDING. YOU WILL REGRET IT.)
Stuart — I could watch the way the Gunther of Big Bang said hello to Penny — “Oh! Hey! Penny! Wow! Hi!” — all day. And for those HIMYM fans out there, Stuart is so on Penny’s hook, isn’t he?
Sheldon’s script for Penny — Sheldon’s idea of Penny’s “homespun, corn-fed Nebraskan” vernacular was just funny on its face, but am I the only one who thought Sheldon was simply having a go at Penny? I know he would not normally be that crafty, or could resist capping the joke (or “classic prank”) with a trademarked “Bazinga!” I’d just like to think he knows Penny well enough to be able to pull that off.
Simon Helberg’s reading of this line, spoken in response to Sheldon’s entreaty to all his friends that they skip out on Stan Lee day at the comic-book store to support him in traffic court: “Wow. [Clears throat] Stan Lee or you in court? Uh, if this was Sophie’s Choice it would’ve been a much shorter movie. No.”
Sheldon’s day in court — From Sheldon’s brave plaid-on-checked-on-stripped suit, to the verbal sparring with the perfectly cast exasperated traffic court judge — Sheldon: “I would point out that I am at the top of my profession, while you preside over the kiddie table of yours” — I thought this scene unfolded nigh perfectly. When Sheldon said, upon entering the holding cell, “That’s my spot” to the man whose arms were wider than Sheldon’s bean-poll torso, I just about lost it. (Trivia alert! The judge’s name was J. Kirby, i.e. Capt. America creator and Stan Lee collaborator Jack Kirby.)
Stan Lee — The previous parenthetical to the contrary, I’m honestly not much of a comic book fan — although, OK, just to be clear, unlike Penny, I at least know who Stan Lee is. That said, I think it was the Fantastic 4 robe Lee wore when he opened his door to find Penny and Sheldon standing there that clinched it for me. The guy is just cool, so much so that I actually believe he might take Leonard, Howard, and (begrudgingly) Raj out for some gelato. (So much for history, though — Leonard was either packing a mother-lode of lactose pills, or the writers plum forgot about the poor fella’s intolerance of all things dairy.) I perfectly understood why Sheldon would use Lee’s sarcastic invitation to “just come on in and watch the Lakers game with me” as a pretense for traipsing right into Lee’s home, even if it did result in a restraining order and second court date.
Your turn, Big Bang theorists! What was your favorite moment from “The Excelsior Acquisition”? Are you pulling for more Stuart? Do you think if the show drops Leonard Nimoy’s name enough, he’ll appear on the show? And how many of you are scouring the web for one of those musical t-shirts right now?