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Friday, 16 of April of 2021

The Big Bang Theory – The Hot Troll Deviation

“You’re wrong again. If my superpower were arrogance my name would be Dr. Arroganto.”

The Big Bang Theory made great strides this week in overcoming some of the issues people take with the show. It featured serialized story, developed a character and remembered there are other characters on the show than just Penny and Sheldon. However, some gags that can only be described as “overly sitcomy” hampered the progress the show was trying to make.

The episode was funny, very much so, but after looking at the whole episode it feels as though it’s right back where it started. You do the math, see where we end up.

A Howard centric episode! I mentioned earlier this season about the rather throwaway manner in which Howard and Bernadette’s breakup was handled. Apparently that was because they were going to explain it with its own episode. Score one point for serialization! After hiding it for half of the episode we finally learn that Howard cheated on Bernadette, causing their breakup. But this is The Big Bang Theory, something as serious as infidelity is too heavy for this show. Howard didn’t actually cheat, he had cyber sex with a hot troll in World of Warcraft.

Bypassing the argument of whether or not that’s actually cheating, Bernadette didn’t appreciate it and ended the relationship. What’s interesting is Howard’s reasoning for it: he and Bernadette were not having sex. Whew, talking about all this without the comedic context makes it seem so serious, far more so than it was played on the show anyway. But there’s more! The reason the couple never had sex was because Howard never made a move.

Look at that. Howard cheated (is it really cheating? Blah blah blah) on Bernadette because he wasn’t sexually fulfilled in their relationship but the reason they didn’t have sex was because Howard was too scared to make a move. That is some layered character development. Kudos, BBT.

This does however bring me to one of the problems I had with the episode. Guest stars Katee Sackhoff and George Takei played Howard’s sex gurus, helping Howard sort out his feelings and guiding him in his quest to win back Bernadette. “But Matt! How could you have a problem with Starbuck and Sulu?” I don’t, I think the use of those two as guest stars is genius. It makes sense that Howard’s guardian angels would be two sci-fi icons and it garnered major nerd cred for the show. My problem lies in the fact that those two ate up a lot of screen time unnecessarily.

Starbuck and Sulu (alternate dimension spin-off series anyone?) would often end up speaking just between themselves. It was funny, yes, but in a 19 minute and 3 second episode, having your guests stars go off on (very meta) tangents ends up taking up too much time. In a world where the actual time of the text is getting shorter and shorter it felt uneconomical. i understand that they probably wanted to get as much screen time out of those high profile guest stars as possible, but still.

Sheldon may not have dominated the A story as he so often does but that didn’t stop Penny from being a central figure. Howard went to her to  talk about his problem and to set up a meeting with Bernadette. The main way in which Penny is used on the show is as a human connection for the guys to real life and real problems. It’s a crucial point of the show, although again, the fact that the nerds are too stupid to function without her is a point of insult amongst the anti-BBT. Another problem that this brings up is that there is no room for Penny to develop as a character herself, an issue that is very long running with the show.

Once again we have Penny assisting one of the guys, but it does nothing for her. What’s worse is that she was reduced to one of the “overly sitcomy” elements I had a problem with in this episode. During the Howard and Bernadette conciliatory meeting, Penny kept coming back to the table to bring them food and drink (and ultimately a check) so she could eavesdrop on the conversation. I do have to admit I found my self laughing at the same time I was noting how stupid it was.

Now on to the B story. Raj wants a desk in the office he shares with Sheldon. Sheldon says no. Thus begins an episode long contest to force the other out of the office. It was a simple, funny side story as one-upmanship usually is. Then the dreaded sitcom monster reared it’s clichéd head. Raj and Sheldon’s battle ends with Raj lighting candles to counteract the noxious gas Sheldon released in the office to smoke out Raj. The gas turns out to be highly flammable and an off screen explosion occurs. Raj, covered in smoke, walks out of the office. I swear I almost threw up. All that was missing was the sad trombone playing.

The one possible gem from this ending is Raj’s promise that “This isn’t over.” I would love to see a series of pranks continue throughout the show a la How I Met Your Mother‘s slap bet. I implore you once again, BBT gods, please don’t let this go to waste.

Final Thoughts:

  • Once again Leonard just sort of meanders through the episode, not being an integral part of either story.
  • You are now aware that half of the episodes of this season so far have dealt extensively with Howard masturbating.
  • Quote of the episode goes to Leonard: (to Sheldon) “Sometimes your movements are so lifelike I forget you’re not a real boy.”
  • Howard got that shirt he’s wearing when he meets Bernadette from Urban Outfitters. Excuse me while I go buy it.

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