Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Big Bang Theory 4.09: "The Boyfriend Complexity"

“I don’t care for novelty editions of Monopoly. I prefer the classics- regular and Klingon.”

I found “The Boyfriend Complexity” to be a rather shallow and unfunny episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” I’ll admit, I laughed a bit at the end, but they were cheap laughs. As much as it pains me to admit it, because I generally support the pairing, I’m wondering if the reason this episode didn’t quite measure up is because it focused on Penny and Leonard’s relationship. Such episodes are generally weaker than episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” that focus more on the guys and their nerdy antics. Leonard was pretty thoroughly unlikable in this episode, even though I can totally understand where he’s coming from. Meanwhile, Raj and Howard were taken to a new level of awkward.

The guys are all in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment discussing silliness related to Marvel Universe characters. Specifically, they’re trying to figure out the bravest sort of unsung hero in the Marvel Universe. For instance, Captain America’s undocumented Mexican gardener was a big contender. The discussion is interrupted by a call from the pizza delivery guy saying he’s arrived at Leonard and Sheldon’s building with their dinner. On his way downstairs, Leonard knocks on the door of Penny’s apartment, hoping to let her know dinner has arrived. He’s greeted by Penny’s dad instead. Penny appears in the doorway too. To Leonard’s surprise, Penny plants a huge kiss on Leonard, then slams the door to her apartment shut.

Leonard goes back into the apartment, sans pizza, feeling pretty bewildered and confused. Thankfully, Penny soon drops by to explain. Leonard is the only guy she’s dated that her dad has ever approved of, so prior to his visit to Pasadena, she told him that she and Leonard had gotten back together. She asks Leonard to go along with the story, and Leonard is more than fine with that. They promptly start bickering over their story for how they got back together (who asked whom, etc.), which I guess was supposed to be one of those “see, this is why they really shouldn’t be together now” moments, but it didn’t work for me. When Penny’s dad steps out into the hallway to see what’s going on, Leonard starts milking their ruse for all its worth, kissing Penny at every opportunity. Penny is not at all amused.

Raj and Howard are spending the night at the university because Raj has much-coveted time with a telescope in Hawaii. Raj is hoping to prove the existence of a planet, which would probably place him higher in the ranks of the astrophysicists than making that “People” list a few years back did. Bernadette has been invited too, because Howard is hoping that Raj and Bernadette will bond a bit. This makes sense, considering both are very important people in Howard’s life. Howard proposes that they drink some wine, knowing that Raj is incapable of speaking to women unless he has at least a bit of alcohol in his system. Raj is a little hesitant, wondering if he should really drink while he’s technically working, but it’s not long before he decides to just go with it. Bernadette does manage to spoil the euphoria of drinking on the job a bit by wondering if she washed her hands after working with a particularly nasty pathogen at work, though.

Much to Penny’s chagrin, Leonard has been invited to go along on a dinner she’s having with her father, Wyatt. On the car ride home, we can see that Leonard and Wyatt are getting along splendidly. This pisses Penny off, as she’d love nothing more than to feel validated in her choice to break up with Leonard. The conversation turns into sort of parade of Penny’s exes, with Wyatt recounting all the worst stories to Leonard. Leonard is just loving it. Someone besides Penny who doesn’t love it is Sheldon. He hears conversation out in the hallway that makes him believe Penny and Leonard are truly back together, and he frantically starts drafting addenda to the roommate agreement. As he puts it, he feels the need to deal with Penny’s bad habits if she’s going to be spending nights in their apartment again.

Over at the university, Bernadette and Raj do indeed bond, but not quite in the way that Howard intended. They bond by making fun of Howard and doing silly impressions of Howard’s obnoxious mother. Howard, naturally, is not amused, because his plan most definitely backfired. Raj, as he does from time to time, has definitely had too much to drink. He gets really, really upset about being alone. I guess things didn’t work out with that Deaf girlfriend he had a few weeks back. Bernadette tries to be really nice about it, and she tells Raj that he’ll definitely find someone. In his drunken stupor, Raj goes to kiss Bernadette. Howard slow-motion dives between the two of them to stop the kiss, and Raj kisses Howard instead. This makes the group lunch at the university at the end of the episode super awkward. I just kind of resented that the show was mining a kiss between Howard and Raj for jokes. Although, when it’s a show by Chuck Lorre, a guy who also likes to milk fat jokes for all they’re worth on “Mike and Molly,” I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

The next morning, Wyatt and Leonard are playing a fishing video game, still chummy as ever. Penny, clearly still not happy that her dad and her ex are getting on so well, chooses that moment to call her father and tell her that she and Leonard are really still broken up. Wyatt is not at all happy, and he calls both Penny and Leonard into Penny’s living room for a conference. He yells and tells Penny how disappointed he is in her, then he tells Penny to go into the other room so he can talk to Leonard. Once Penny is out of earshot, Wyatt desperately tells Leonard not to give up on Penny. Then, in one of the only moments of the episode that I liked, he tries to help Leonard get back in Penny’s good graces by mock-yelling at Leonard and kicking him out. Sheldon’s not pleased when he finds out the news either. He’s upset that all the work he put into updating the roommate agreement was for naught. The pages he wrote go flying around the apartment after Sheldon tosses them in exasperation.

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