Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Big Bang Theory 4.02: "The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification"

“If it makes you feel any better, Thursday is no longer cruciferous vegetable night.”

“The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification,” like last week’s episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” didn’t exactly have a lot of substance. It had a heck of a lot of laughs, though. Okay, I admit, a lot of the laughs were cheap laughs from flatulence humor, but the episode was damn funny. Yes, there are times when I don’t mind indulging in more childish humor. At least the humor, although aiming for a lowest common denominator, was character based. Specifically, most of the humor came from Sheldon’s desire to achieve immortality. As his intellect is God’s gift to humanity, he couldn’t possibly deprive the world of the chance to have that intellect forever. Thus the episode opens with Sheldon furiously scribbling on multiple white boards, trying to calculate when exactly he is going to die.

Sheldon is concerned because according to his calculations, he is going to die shortly before the invention of technology that would allow him to transfer his consciousness into a robot. Even when he takes out an uncle’s untimely death by badger, it still doesn’t look like he’s going to quite make it. Sheldon has this whole, detailed plan of what the future will be like, down to a new creature called the “dogapus,” and he doesn’t want to miss it. To try and beat the odds, Sheldon decides he’s going to live a healthier lifestyle. It’s pizza night at the apartment, and while the rest of the gang is chowing down on the cheesy goodness, Sheldon has decided it’s cruciferous vegetable night. He’s eating Brussels sprouts. This scene also begins a very minor side plot about how Leonard is still paying for a lot of stuff for Penny, including most of her dinners. Penny says she wants to start paying, but she’s still broke, so she just runs up a tab and the rest of the guys laugh and Leonard for still being so whipped. Penny’s tab is up to $1,400.00 by the end of the episode.

Anyway, when Sheldon mentions that part of his plan to beat-the-odds is to start jogging, Raj mentions (via whispering to Howard), that Penny jogs too, so they should jog together. Apparently Raj has been stalking Penny with binoculars. I think this is an instance where characterization is stretched too far for the sake of a joke. Sure, we know Raj is super awkward around women, but he’s never been creepy before. Heck, when he was using a telescope at one point last season, he wasn’t spying on women in other apartments. He was watching “The Good Wife.” Up until now, he’s been socially inept but completely harmless. I don’t like this change, although considering it’s a Chuck Lorre show, he’ll probably be back to the loveable guy we all know soon enough.

Later that night, Sheldon knock’s on Leonard’s door, but instead of the usual “Leonard” after three knocks, all we hear are groans. Sheldon has abdominal pain, and his internet research has turned up a host of horrible things that could be causing it. Leonard suggests the much more realistic possibility of appendicitis, which causes Sheldon to go on a huge rant about how his appendix, a vestigial organ, is going to kill him. Turns out it wasn’t even appendicitis, though. It was just gas pains from the cruciferous vegetables. Luckily, Sheldon figured this out before going to the hospital. Wouldn’t want to incur a several hundred dollar ER bill for gas.

Soon enough, it’s time for Sheldon to start his jogging program with Penny. To say he’s inept at it would be an understatement. He can’t even follow along when Penny does her pre-run stretches. They start to job down the stairs, and we can hear Sheldon fall off camera. We can also hear that he farts again. I’m mildly embarrassed to admit that at this point in the episode, I was laughing hysterically. Especially when Sheldon says the Quote of the Episode about how Thursday is no longer cruciferous vegetable night.

Sheldon is really shaken up over his recent health scares and accidents, so one night when the gag is dividing up Indian food for dinner, in rolls a robot with a TV screen for a head. On the TV screen is Sheldon’s face of course. He calls it his “Mobile Virtual Presence Device.” The idea is that Sheldon can stay safe in his bed while the robot does all the tasks Sheldon once had to do in the outside world. This makes Sheldon even more obnoxious than usual, believe it or not. Sheldon invokes an obscure clause in the Roommate Agreement to force Leonard to drive the device to work. On the way Sheldon wants to play games, and it seems like he’s really proud of the fact that he’s come up with graphics to display on this screen to go with all the games. Once at the university, Leonard is completely fed up and refuses to open Sheldon’s office door for him (the mobile device doesn’t have arms). Silly Raj ends up opening it instead, because he was unaware of how obnoxious Sheldon had been up to that point.

The gang finds themselves at the Cheesecake Factory, as they often do, except that once again, the mobile device is there instead of the actual Sheldon. Penny is getting exasperated with Sheldon’s demands for food when he isn’t even actually at the restaurant when the guys spot Steve Wozniak at a nearby table. There’s a funny little joke about how Penny knows who Woz is because of Dancing With the Starts. Sheldon rolls his device over to Woz to introduce himself, and he tells Woz about an old Apple II computer he still has. Sheldon wants to get the computer autographed, and Woz agrees. It turns out this is what it takes to get Sheldon to give up the mobile device. He hightails it out of his apartment as quick as he can, and he once again falls down the stairs. The tag of the episode shows once again virtual Sheldon demanding that Penny sing “Soft Kitty” to him.

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