One of my favorite TV episodes of all time is “The One with the Embryos” from the fourth season of Friends. You know, it’s the one where Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey partake in a personal trivia contest officiated by Ross, and we learn some deliciously silly factoids about our beloved characters: Chandler first touched a girl’s breast at 19, Monica’s biggest pet peeve is animals dressed as humans, Joey’s imaginary friend was/is a space cowboy named Maurice. The simple fact that these people had lives outside the 22 minutes we spent with them each week — and that those lives were as, well, trivial as our own — was outrageously funny and endearing in equal measure.
I felt much the same way about tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory. It isn’t quite my top episode of the series — that honor is still safely held by season 2’s “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis,” and besides, without Penny around (or, for the second time, even mentioned) it just doesn’t quite feel like The Big Bang Theory to me. But “The Irish Pub Formulation” was chock full of tasty bits of trivia about our characters; the penultimate scene with our fearsome foursome was especially scrumptious, easily one of my favorites. The roundelay of revelations — not just that Leonard betrayed Howard, who betrayed Raj, who betrayed Sheldon, who betrayed Leonard, but how all this betrayal went down — was all kinds of rib-tickling fun, and helped make plain just how nerdily entwined these four friends are with each other. That last sentence maybe came off a bit more coital than I meant it to, but you get the idea.
The episode’s ultimate success is even more impressive considering how shaky its opening moments were: A groaner from Howard about bad cobbler (“it tastes like it’s made up of actual ground-up shoemaker”) that was compounded by Sheldon explaining the humor, killing something that was already kinda dead and maggoty. But then Raj’s sister Priya (Aarti Mann) showed up from India for a day-long layover; Raj told Howard to not lay over, under or anywhere near her; Howard explained he’d already made a pact with Leonard to do just that; which was right about the time Priya laid a big one on Leonard outside the ladies’ restroom, a kiss that Leonard happily reciprocated once he knew the coast was clear. As Rachel said in “The One with the Embryos”: Oooo, that’s interesting.
After Sheldon’s failed in his effort to get anyone interested in a “train day” in Los Angeles (for our non-Angeleno readers, let me assure you right now that there is, in fact, a Carney’s in Studio City and Hollywood that serve up hot dogs in converted train cars, and that Griffith Park does play home to the Travel Town Museum), we pivoted to Leonard’s efforts to secret Priya into his bedroom for some layover nookie without Sheldon ever being the wiser. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem, but Sheldon’s discovery of an emulator of old 1980s text-based RPGs videogames (i.e. Zork and its ilk) meant he was up way past his bedtime. Leonard’s solution: You better get to bed, Sheldon, because you don’t want to be yawning at your big presentation. Sheldon’s golden response: “Everyone will see my oddly shaped uvula!”
NEXT: A theory about the cancellation of Caprica emerges.