Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.16: "The Cohabitation Formulation"

“Priya is highly educated, she’s an accomplished professional, and she comes from the culture that literally wrote the book on neat ways to have sex.”

Overall, I found “The Cohabitation Formulation” to be fairly entertaining. I certainly liked it more than the last few episodes of “The Big Bang Theory.” It didn’t outright offend me. Something about it just didn’t click as well as with my very favorite episodes, though. On the positive side, Leonard dating Priya brought a different, interesting dynamic to the group (although I think my interest will be temporary). On the other hand, I don’t think this episode used Aarti Mann to her full comedic potential- I think she was a lot funnier in her last episode. Also, this episode has used up all the “oh maybe there’s something more under the creepy candy coating” goodwill I had built up for Howard in the past two or so seasons. I honestly don’t understand what Bernadette sees in him at all. The way he treats her, especially in this episode, can only be described as disgusting.

I’ve never loved Howard-centric episodes as much as episodes that center on the other characters, and this episode had quite a focus on Howard. Howard and Bernadette are in bed in Bernadette’s apartment, happily post-coital (which, since this is a Chuck Lorre show, has to be spelled out for good measure by each character saying “wow”). Seconds after saying how he doesn’t want the moment to end, Howard jumps up out of bed and starts putting his clothes on. He doesn’t want to get home late, because his mom needs his help with her various “beauty” procedures such as drawing on eyebrows and adjusting her wig. Bernadette, understandably, is not happy. She’s tired of playing second fiddle to Howard’s mom, and she wants Howard to grow up. She suggests moving in together, and clueless Howard counters with a suggestion that she move to his house after his mom dies. That’s not what Bernadette was hoping to hear, obviously.

Howard goes home to face more nagging from his mother. I guess she’s upset that he’s been spending so much time with Bernadette. She’s not really a developed character, just an annoying voice, so I won’t try to get at her motivations here. Howard has had it with the nagging, and he storms out of the house. He shows up at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, which throws Sheldon off a bit, although not as much as you might expect. He reminds Leonard to make some tea for Howard, because providing a hot beverage for an upset friend is not optional. He wants some cocoa for himself, too, because having a houseguest upsets him. Leonard is just starting on the hot beverages when Sheldon asks Howard why he didn’t go to Raj’s apartment instead, considering Raj is his “primary” friend. Howard lets it slip that Priya is staying with Raj while she’s in Los Angeles on business, and Leonard runs out of the apartment, leaving Sheldon to finish preparing the hot beverages.

Raj is not at all happy to see Leonard show up at his door. He keeps forbidding Leonard to speak with Priya, go into the bedroom with Priya, close the door to the bedroom…you get the idea. Priya just ignores him. The whole thing isn’t especially funny now that I think about it the bit. All the humor derives from Indian stereotypes of male dominance and imperfect English. Raj said Leonard can’t come in because he “forbidded it,” for instance. Needless to say, Leonard and Priya work out their differences in spite of Raj’s rather pathetic attempts ant interference. Priya joins the group for dinner at the Cheesecake Factory the next night, and there is much awkwardness when Penny is their server. The only slight amount of awkwardness when Penny learned who Priya was grew exponentially thanks to Sheldon announcing to Priya that Leonard and Penny used to “do the dance with no pants.”

Bernadette is working a shift at the Cheesecake Factory that night too, and Howard takes her aside to talk to her about how to get more alone time. He happily announces that his mother is going to Palm Springs for a few days, and minus any medical emergencies, they should have two nights alone together. This, understandably, does not make Bernadette happy, and she gives Howard an ultimatum- her or his mother. When Howard doesn’t answer right away, Bernadette storms off, exasperated. Later, Bernadette is back home at her apartment when she hears a knock on the door. She drags a stool over to the door so she can look out the peephole, which I loved. I need to get something similar for my own apartment! Anyway, it’s Howard at the door. He’s dragging luggage behind him, and he says he’s moving in. He starts composing a shopping list for Bernadette before he even puts his stuff down. Oh what a gem Bernadette’s got for herself.

Meanwhile, Amy Farrah Fowler pays a visit to her “bestie,” Penny. She’s concerned that Penny might be upset because of Leonard dating Priya, someone who is much more his intellectual equal. Well, actually, I’m not sureif she’s all that concerned. She wants to use Penny for one of her neuroscience experiments, and she needs Penny to cry for the experiment to work. Penny insists, however, that she’s just fine. Later that night, the boys, Amy, and Priya are eating pizza in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, and Penny is drawn in by the smell of free food. She didn’t expect to find Priya there, and he situation kind of throws her. Priya thinks Penny’s life as an actress must be extremely exciting, but Penny’s career has taken a downturn from her performance in a theater above a bowling alley days. She drove to an audition for what she thought was a cat food commercial, but it turned out to be porn. Sheldon was kind of surprised she didn’t take the job. Priya then mentions that she was in a production of “The Taming of the Shrew” at university, and of course Leonard thinks it’s the greatest Shakespeare work ever. Leonard and Priya giggle and recite lines together, and Penny realizes she’s way out of her league. After dinner, Amy pays Penny another visit, and Penny finally starts to cry.

Howard and Bernadette are having some pillow talk, and it becomes painfully obvious that Howard expects Bernadette to basically be his mother. He wants her to go shopping and do his laundry (with hypoallergenic detergent), and take him to the dentist. Bernadette finally puts her foot down, and Howard ends up moving back home. After reminding him that they have the dentist the next day, Howards mom grounds him “for running away.” And I think Howard and his mother have just gone from occasionally funny in small doses to just plain old creepy.

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