The Big Bang Theory recap: You've Gotta Have Friends
By this time last season, The Big Bang Theory had settled into a funny-if-predictable pattern: Sheldon comically fixated on some detail that irritated his fastidious sense of How Things Should Be; the rest of the cast comically expressed exasperation at Sheldon’s comically rigid response to said detail; and Sheldon comically remained oblivious to their exasperation. The inflexible formula paradoxically allowed Jim Parsons to show off just how limber and expressive a comic actor he can be, but it didn’t exactly offer much by way of variety for the audience.
Cut to last night’s episode, which had a prototypical Sheldon-centric premise: Leonard’s new relationship with Raj’s sister Priya meant everyone was suddenly spending a great deal more time over at Raj’s apartment instead of Sheldon and Leonard’s. Sheldon abhorred this upheaval to his universe like nature to a vacuum — for one thing, he’d have to watch television on Raj’s plasma TV with the small cluster of dead pixels: “Oh, look, it’s Harry Potter and 98 Percent of the Sorcerer’s Stone!” But instead of forcing everyone else to change back for him, shockingly, and quite refreshingly, Sheldon was the one forced to adjust.
After drowning his sorrows in water with a tiny umbrella at Penny’s Cheesecake Factory bar, Sheldon was made wise to the simple fact that Leonard is the nucleus of his circle of friends by Amy Farrah Fowler, who apparently is incapable of communicating with any medium other than video chat. So Sheldon organized a “party” of his own, and as his new circle of friends, invited Stuart the comic-book-store guy (still a pitiably funny sad sack, living in his store, just hoping for a hot shower), Penny’s ex Zack (still amusingly dumb), and onetime nemesis Barry Kripke (still possessing an obnoxiously exaggerated speech impediment, but otherwise downgraded in Sheldon’s world, thanks, it seems, to Wil Wheaton). Sheldon also invited actor and Twitter luminary LeVar Burton, who I guess heeds every Twitter party invite he receives, but will likely show up late, so plan to not have your guests butchering “Walking on Sunshine” when he arrives.
While Sheldon’s new friends disappointed, Leonard, Raj, and Howard found themselves reminiscing fondly about Sheldon in spite of themselves, and Amy and Bernadette descended on Penny for an impromptu girls’ night out to further help her get over Leonard’s relationship with Priya. It all demonstrated the welcome sense of storytelling balance that Big Bang has found over the last few episodes; even though Raj and Howard had little screen time, they both got to bring some serious funny — Raj relating how Sheldon prompted Bill Gates to punch him in the face, and Howard reacting to Sheldon’s sudden disconsolate knocking at Raj’s door as he returned to be with all his real friends: “I think it’s like Beetlejuice,” said Howard. “We said his name too many times.”
NEXT: Sheldon geeks out on Zork, and Amy introduces us to [shudder] Gerard
That storytelling balance proves just how smart the decision was to bring Amy and Bernadette on as full-time members of the Big Bang company of players. Call it the Friends Supposition: Had the NBC megahit continued to just be about Ross and Rachel like it was in its first two seasons, it would’ve ultimately fizzled out. But with six (or, in Big Bang‘s case, seven) characters to service, and (almost) as many women as men, the show is that much stronger, and funnier, with no one character dominating too much over the others. Doesn’t hurt that Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch have proved to be ace additions, too. Yeah, it’s not a perfect comparison — Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny remain ostensibly the “lead” characters — but you catch my drift, right?
Penny, Bernadette, and Amy talked sex and butt biting while Penny readied for their night out, and if they hadn’t already, Amy and Bernadette firmly established their place in the Big Bang firmament. So much so, I didn’t even (completely) mind the introduction of Gerard, Amy’s electric toothbrush and the centerpiece of one of her “tension-releasing techniques.”
As Zack regaled Stuart and Kripke with the tale of the time he got naked in a hot tub/Jacuzzi with a woman, Sheldon attempted to tell the tale of how Archimedes discovered the principle of displacement while taking a bath, noting he could measure the amount of gold in an irregularly shaped crown simply by marking how much water it displaced when submerged. Naturally, all Kripke and Stuart wanted to hear about was wet
Desperate to keep his party working, Sheldon pivoted from ancient mathematicians to vintage videogames, including ColecoVision’s Smurf Rescue in Gargamel’s Canyon (yep, it’s real), Atari’s Cookie Monster Munch (yep,also real), and the text adventure game Zork (yep, if you’ve read this far, you’d pretty much better know this is real if you’re any kind of self-respecting geek).
BEST LINES & EXCHANGES:
Sheldon: “I’m the whimsical elf that everybody looks to for a good time!” (T-shirt alert!)
Sheldon: “All Jacuzzis are hot tubs, but not all hot tubs are Jacuzzis.”
Zack: “Is that like all thumbs are fingers, but not all fingers are thumbs?”
Sheldon: “Surprisingly, yes.”
Amy, while regarding Penny’s choice in clubbing attire: “That should display enough of your bosom to attract a new mate, or a hungry infant.”
What did you make of “The Toast Derivation,” fellow Big Bang theorists? Were you pleased by how the writers found a way to tell a Sheldon-centric story without Sheldon utterly dominating the storytelling? Do you feel like Amy and Bernadette have earned their status as full-fledged members of the Big Bang family? And are you planning on incorporating the Sheldonism “Nosy Rosie” into your everyday speech?
Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj, and Wolowitz, Amy, Bernadette—the gang keeps growing. Bazinga!