On the one hand, it is fairly obvious that last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory will be on Jim Parsons’ shortlist to send out for Emmy consideration, as well it should be. He fainted! He sang! He stripped! He ran the gamut of human emotions from joy to panic to abruptly intoxicated! I mean, just look at that photo — that is just empirically funny.
On the other hand, on a whole this episode just didn’t quite come together the way it should’ve for me. Granted, as Sheldon-centric Big Bangs go, it wasn’t nearly as insufferable as “The Einstein Approximation” (i.e. Sheldon got stumped) or “The Bozeman Reaction” (i.e. Sheldon got robbed). And it did provide one of my all-time favorite Leonard/Sheldon exchanges:
Sheldon: I recently had a dream that I was a giant, but everything around me was to scale, so it all looked normal.
Leonard: How did you know if you were a giant if everything was to scale?
Sheldon: I was wearing size 1,000,000 pants.
But in a story ripe for great comedy — Raj, Penny, and Leonard try to help Sheldon confront his stage fright so he can accept a major award — I counted a few missed opportunities, and one over-played joke that ran a bit roughshod over Sheldon’s climactic speech. Lemme ‘splain:
Meditation with Raj Yeah, Sheldon turning Raj’s meditation class into a mental exploration of his SimCity creation Sheldonopolis was pretty silly. But after a brief exchange about Raj learning from meditation to stop peeing his pants around women, Sheldon really could’ve played the scene against anyone — all Raj had to do was get increasingly frustrated. I’m just saying that for once, it would be a nice change of pace for someone else’s clueless eccentric behavior to drive Sheldon bonkers.
Shopping with Penny Yay for silly outfits on Sheldon — although, let’s be honest, we all wanted a bunch more of ’em — but boo for not giving Penny all that much to do other than immediately pick out the right sharp suit up from the rack. At the very least, the scene did give us a great explanation for Sheldon’s sartorial taste, namely, the more colors on a garment, the better.
Where was Howard? I totally get why the writers would have Howard disappear after he declared that feigning interest in Sheldon’s life was his ability as one of Sheldon’s X-Men — er, sorry, the X-Men were named for the “X” in Charles Xavier’s name, so Sheldon Cooper deemed his team his “C-Men,” a joke you can see from a mile away, and it still hits you with a good chuckle. Where was I? Right, Howard. I’ve just grown to enjoy Simon Helberg’s sharply sardonic line-readings so much that I wondered what Sheldon’s C-Men scenes (heehee!) would’ve been like had Howard been hanging around puncturing Sheldon’s ego balloon.
Leonard’s mommy issues Leonard’s attempt to psychoanalyze Sheldon’s anxieties also landed on a punchline that was obvious the moment Leonard started talking about his mother badmouthing his prize-winning science project. But that didn’t keep Johnny Galecki from acting the crap out of it anyway, and the scene did contain the aforementioned Monty-Pythonesque exchange about Sheldon’s dream. So, really, I got nothin’ bad to say about this scene.
It’s the following scene that really bugged me.
Rushing to the climax So was I the only one who had forgotten Sheldon didn’t drink? Since the episode’s Big Moment was predicated on this key character trait, it just felt oddly hurried to have Penny pass Sheldon two half-empty glasses of white wine and then boom Sheldon’s plastered and boom he’s making an A-grade ass of himself on the stage. It all happened so suddenly, I kinda got comedy whiplash. Leonard’s my-mom-ruined-my-science-fair-project routine had already played out, too, so why not just cede that time to developing Penny’s realization that a drunk Sheldon could be the solution? It also would’ve given Sheldon a bit more time to go from stone cold sober to dropping his pants in public by way of exploring the limitations of three-dimensional physics. By contrast, last season’s 18th episode also featured Sheldon partaking of a forbidden beverage — i.e. coffee — but the writers let it play out more naturally, and the results were, I think, even funnier.
Do you agree, fellow Big Bang Theorists? Do you think the boys were watching Avatar on TV in that early scene, and if so, do you think James Cameron would approve of the use of outdated red-and-blue cardboard 3-D glasses? Has your mother ever referred to a piece of technology with unnecessary definite articles, a la “the iTunes?” And when Sheldon yelled for “just the Asians” to join him in his musical trip along the periodic table of elements, did you notice the Asian woman sitting behind Penny actually did start to sing along?