Monday, December 6, 2010

The Big Bang Theory 4.08: "The 21-Second Excitation"

“Well, if it isn’t Wil Wheaton. The Jar-Jar Binks of the Star Trek Universe.”

“The 21-Second Excitation” was a highly entertaining episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” We got another appearance from Sheldon’s nemesis, “Evil” Wil Wheaton. I’m not sure if anything has or will surpass Wheaton’s original appearance in “The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary,” but I definitely liked this episode more than last season’s “The Wheaton Recurrence.” The plot that centers around the guys is really funny, and Wheaton got to show that he really has comedic chops. The plot centering around the girls was kind of lame, but the boys’ plot was interesting enough that I’m willing to forgive for now. I’m wondering if this is indicative of this writing staff not being able to write female characters, but I’m hoping that’s not the case, especially considering Penny has undergone some very positive evolution over the years.

The episode opens with the gang (plus Penny) all watching “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Penny’s not that enthusiastic about it, which is surprising. You’d think that even if she wasn’t interested in the plot she could at least appreciate Harrison Ford in his prime. Leonard mentions that the guys are planning to go to the Colonial to see a screening of a special cut of “Raiders.” It supposedly has 21 seconds of extra footage that solves some lingering discrepancies in the original. I’m pretty sure they already used a similar joke about a special cut of “Bladerunner” back in Season 1. I’ve noticed this seems to be the season where jokes and plots are starting to be recycled.

Anyway, we next see the guys and Amy eating dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. They’re grabbing a bite to eat before the movie. Sheldon is extremely impatient to get to the theater, even though it’s 5:00 and the movie doesn’t start until midnight. The guys recall a time when Leonard waiting in line for fourteen hours with Sheldon to see “Star Trek: Nemesis.” As Leonard astutely points out, the worst part of that was that he actually had to see “Star Trek: Nemesis” (RIP Data…I still refuse to acknowledge this movie in the “Star Trek” cannon). Bernadette is the group’s server, and she mentions that she’s having a girls’ night with Penny. Amy chimes in with the observation that she’s a girl, too. She wants to join in on the girls’ night. Bernadette says she’ll have to ask Penny. Amy does so, and Penny says Amy joining is okay.

The guys arrive at the Colonial, and as Sheldon predicted, there’s a huge line. Sheldon says he’s said “I told you so” too many times, so he’s switching to “I informed you thusly.” The guys set up camp. Raj does some calculations and, given the size of the theater, he thinks it’s possible that not only will they not get a good seat, but they may not get into the movie at all. Sheldon, who had just settled in for a nap, wakes up with a start and begins fretting. To make matters worse, Wil Wheaton and his posse (which includes Captain Sweatpants and Lonely Larry from the comic book store…lovely continuity there) roll up. Sheldon calls Wil the “Jar-Jar Binks” of the “Star Trek” universe, and Wil responds by talking to the group in a Jar-Jar voice. It’s fantastic. Wil walks up to the theater manager and asks if he and his friends can be let into the movie. The manager is happy to obliged, and Sheldon is enraged. He starts quoting Captain Picard’s famous “The line must be drawn here!” speech from “Star Trek: First Contact.” I think Jim Parsons probably isn’t really a crazy, die-hard “Star Trek” fan (understandable), because he gets the inflection a little wrong.

Meanwhile, the girls are at Penny’s apartment. Amy way overshares with the girl talk. The girls try to figure out where to go next, and they consider just breaking open a second bottle of liquor right there. Bernadette is reluctant because she needs to drive home. Amy suggests they have the booze and make it a slumber party. She’s never been to one before. The other ladies agree. Amy has a Wikipedia list of slumber activities, and after reviewing it, she suggests they play Truth or Dare. Bernadette goes first and chooses “truth,” and Amy asks her a scientific question. Corrected in how the game is supposed to work, Amy then asks just about the most awkward Truth or Dare question I’ve ever heard. She wants Bernadette to reveal the “circumference of [her] areolas.” Good times are sure to ensue.

When we next see the girls, Amy is finishing up a recitation of Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale.” She was asked to tell a dirty story, and that’s the dirtiest story she knows. The Truth or Dare game continues on, and Penny chooses truth. Bernadette asks her why she still hangs around with Leonard so much, considering they broke up and all. Amy agrees that this seems odd. They both gang up on Penny to try and make her answer. Penny mumbles about how Leonard was ready for a serious relationship and she wasn’t. Amy then asks what will happen if Penny is finally ready and by that point, Leonard has moved on. Bernadette wants to know the answer to this, too. Penny decides she doesn’t want to play anymore, and she goes to her room and slams the door. I guess we’re going to have another round of Penny and Leonard angst sooner rather than later. Amy then reads that girls and slumber parties often experiment with lesbianism. She goes into Penny’s room, and Penny starts to apologize for storming out. Penny is very surprised by what happens next.

Meanwhile, outside the movie theater, Sheldon has been following Wil Wheaton’s tweets about how great his seats for the movie are. He gets a prank phone call from Penny (this happened before the Truth or Dare game), which was mildly amusing just because Sheldon needs to be taken down a peg every now and then. The guys are at the front of the line when the manager closes the velvet rope and says the theater is full. They’re the first four people not to get seats. Sheldon is extremely angry, and when he sees a side door to the movie theater, he runs for it. The other guys follow, most likely just to see what sort of trouble Sheldon could possibly get himself into. When they find Sheldon, he’s trying to take the cases of film out of the theater. Wil Wheaton appears in the lobby and sees what Sheldon is trying to do. Sheldon runs off, and the rest of the guys follow. Wil follows them and brings the rest of the audience with him. He riles them up to angry mob status as the guys run for their lives. It’s a fun “Raiders of the Lost Ark” visual joke, and probably the best shot of the episode.

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