Credit: Michael Ansell/CBS
In truth, just about everyone on The Big Bang Theory is an adorable geek — even comparative regular girl Penny (Kaley Cuoco). But Sheldon (Jim…

In case you too had a whirlwind summer of train rides, a Des Moines fire, and no fruit, here’s a reminder of where we left the gang last season: Sheldon had decided his life was spiraling out of control. The university wouldn’t let him switch off string theory research, his favorite comic store had burnt down, and Leonard got engaged, which led to Amy wanting to move in with Sheldon. Too many life changes caused him to take off on the American railway system.

Season 8 also started in a train station—but 45 days later in Kingman, Arizona, with Sheldon clad only in a T-shirt, tighty whities, and a single sock. He wanders around the depot trying to find help—or at the very least crocheted pants—but Sheldon’s charm does not work on these strangers. The police eventually pick him up, where he calls for a ride. This is the new and improved Sheldon, who is ready for any change that comes his way… that is, except for Penny’s pixie cut. (Has Tinker Bell been cast for the live Peter Pan yet? Think about it, NBC.) He basically speaks for all of the audience when he says, “Your hair is different. You changed your hair. I can’t take this. I’m out.”

As for the rest of the gang…

Leonard and Amy spend most of their time in a car driving to Arizona, where they pick up Sheldon from the police station. Leonard is met with a hug; Amy is met with a seductively whispered “shotgun.”

Raj splits his time between talking about his unseen—but apparently still very much around—girlfriend, Emily, and Howard’s mom. Ms. Debbie Wolowitz, a.k.a. Howard’s mom, has either a new son or a new lover in Stuart, who is still living with her, long after her recovery. Howard is not okay with this and embarks on a mission to kick him out.

Penny is prepping with Bernadette for a job interview at her pharmaceutical company. (Bye-bye, Cheesecake Factory set?) If there’s anything that suits Penny better than struggling actress and/or waitress, it’s definitely being the lady who hangs out in doctor’s offices and always has lots of free pens.

Hope you enjoyed the “new Sheldon,” because the old one is already back. Episode 2, “The Junior Professor Solution,” takes us right back to what we’re used to: the gang in the living room with takeout Chinese. And the story lines continue right where “The Locomotion Interrupter” left off.

Penny landed that pharmaceutical job. Bernadette wants her to prepare for her first day—but never one to try too hard at a job, Penny wants to just wing it. Amy uses this conflict to play both sides and become the mean girl she never knew she could be.

Sheldon and Howard, ever the sparring partners, take things up a notch when Sheldon is promoted to junior professor. No one elects to take his class (wise grad students!). Then Howard steps up to the plate, since he’s thinking about getting his doctorate anyway. Sheldon kind of admits that he might struggle with the possibility of someone being as smart as him, but he doesn’t do anything to remedy this. It’s always one step forward, one step back with this guy.

Overall, season 8’s first two episodes were like returning home: You’re always happy to arrive, but once you’re there, you realize nothing ever changes. Not that that is always a bad thing, but it would be nice to see some development stick from season to season. And while Sheldon’s character growth may have been very short-lived, at least he played a role in the action. Leonard and Raj are still on this show, right?

The Laughter Effect:

“My girlfriend wanted to move in with me, which was no doubt a ploy to just see my—well, excuse my language—my bathing suit parts.” —Sheldon

“I’ll have you know Mahatma Gandhi wore no pants, and a nation rallied behind him.” —Sheldon

“Pajamas are the sleeper pants of ‘the man.'” —Sheldon

“I’m having my windows un-tinted… I got a hot girlfriend now, I want the haters to know.” —Raj

“There’s lots of books called Sherlock Holmes, and there’s no books called Officer Hernandez.” —Sheldon

“You’re built for pharmaceutical sales: you’re cute, you’re flirty, and… I started that like there were going to be three things.” —Bernadette

“Like our lawyers say, the world is full of things that can cause a rectum to bleed.” —Bernadette

“Sherlock Holmes liked to use cocaine to sharpen his focus. But I’m sure those Cool Ranch Doritos are doing the trick.” —Sheldon

“Leonard, as soon as we get home, I want to have coitus with Amy… Okay, she can’t hear.” —Sheldon (I admit, the Big Bang writers had me going on that one.)

“Pouting and running away actually worked. I must say that may not be a lesson you want to reinforce with me.” —Sheldon

“What do you like better, ‘Emipali’ or “Koothrapemily’?” —Raj

“Sheldon, I promise. Your uvula does not have an STD.” —Leonard

“Are you sure? It doesn’t feel as innocent as it used to.” —Sheldon

Episode Recaps

In truth, just about everyone on The Big Bang Theory is an adorable geek — even comparative regular girl Penny (Kaley Cuoco). But Sheldon (Jim…
The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon, Leonard, Penny, Raj, and Wolowitz, Amy, Bernadette—the gang keeps growing. Bazinga!

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