Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.18: “The Prestidigitation Approximation”

“I’m saying believe in magic, you Muggle!”

“The Prestidigitation Approximation” was a decent episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” I don’t think I would count it among my absolute favorites, but I didn’t find it overly offensive. It had some good laughs (mostly thanks to the surprising comedy chops of Kaley Cuoco) and some heart as well (again, mostly thanks to Kaley Cuoco). What can I say? Penny really stole the show in this Leonard-centric episode. This episode also started to take us down the road of seeing why Leonard and Priya won’t work in the long term. Priya is trying too hard to change who Leonard is fundamentally. Penny always accepted Leonard in all his glasses-wearing, poor-clothing-choices nerdiness, and think there’s a lot to be said for that. At least I think that’s the message the writers were trying to send with this episode. Frankly, I’m just impressed an episode of a Chuck Lorre show had anything resembling a message at all, even if the message was overshadowed a bit by Leonard being completely hen pecked by Priya.

The episode opens with Leonard and Priya having some morning pillow talk. They’re talking about how much they enjoyed the previous night when Priya remarks that Leonard has nice eyes. She wonders if Leonard ever thought about contacts. It turn out Leonard did back in middle school or so, but they were never comfortable, so he gave up on them. Leonard, ever the eager puppy for the women in his life, spends much of the rest of the episode trying to get used to his new contacts. His eyes can’t focus with them in, and he bumps into people and objects everywhere. Priya doesn’t seem to care about that, though. When he decides to take a break and wear his glasses to a date, she just asks where his contacts went. It’s a rather irritating plot point overall.

The B-story of this episode is rather simple, but it was definitely good for some laughs. At lunch at the university, Howard demonstrates a card trick to Raj and Sheldon. Sheldon at first derides the idea of magic tricks all together, but then he wants to know how Howard did the trick. Being a good magician, Howard refuses to reveal his secret. Later, at Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, Howard is doing the card trick again, this time with Penny. And it’s still driving Sheldon nuts. Leonard and Priya walk into the middle of this amusing scene. Priya has taken Leonard to buy some new, more stylish clothes. Penny acts awkward at first, congratulating Priya on managing to upgrade Leonard’s style. Then she starts to get really defensive. She keeps talking about how much she likes Priya, even after Leonard and Priya go to the next room. I’m sure Howard could really care less. When she finally gets herself back together, Penny does have a little fun with Sheldon, pretending that she knows how Howard does his card trick.

Meanwhile, Priya is thinking it’s really odd that Leonard still hangs out so much with Penny, considering he’s her ex and all. Priya’s probably right, but she doesn’t exactly go about bringing up this issue in the nicest way. She wants Leonard to stop hanging out with Penny, and Leonard, being pretty spineless, agrees. Also because Leonard is spineless, he has pretty difficult time carrying out what he’s been asked to do. Penny runs into Leonard in the laundry room as Leonard is washing all the new clothes he got with Priya. Penny keeps Leonard from accidentally putting a silk shirt in the washer, and she reiterates that she really does like Priya, and she’s glad Leonard is happy. Leonard tries to give his “get lost” speech by talking about a type of bird where when two birds are fighting over one food source, one of them develops a different type of beak and goes to feed elsewhere. Penny doesn’t get what Leonard is trying to say, just thinking it’s a fancy lead-in to “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush.”

We see Leonard and Priya having pillow talk again, and Priya naturally asks if Leonard has delivered the bad news to Penny. Leonard says he did talk to her, and Priya hopes Leonard wasn’t too cruel. As they’re talking, Sheldon does his signature knock on the door. He wants to test out whether or not he’s figured out the card trick. Leonard refuses to get up and open the door, so Sheldon slides the playing cards under Leonard’s door. This was probably one of the funniest bits in the episode. The visual of the cards sliding under the door was great. Leonard just pretends he picked a card (Sheldon can’t see in the room, after all) just to get Sheldon to leave him alone. Then, every time Sheldon tries to name the card Leonard picked, Leonard says that wasn’t it. The situation is driving Sheldon off the deep end. He’s procured all sorts of fancy equipment, like infrared cameras, and he’s hacked into a computer used for national defense to run some computations. Leonard reminds Sheldon that’s a federal offense before leaving the apartment. Sheldon is so on edge that he’s considering trying to procure uranium from Craig’s List to test the theory that Howard might have used a radioactive tracer to identify the card.

Leonard and Priya are on a date at an Indian restaurant, and they’re sitting in a table next to the window. All of a sudden, Penny is pressed up against the window with a goofy smile on her face. This scene is where Kaley Cuoco really gets to show her comedic chops. She crashes Leonard and Priya’s date, and she’s completely inappropriate, telling Priya about how she saved the silk shirt, tasting a bite of Leonard’s food, and drinking some of Leonard’s tea. Priya very quickly realized that Leonard must not have delivered the “get lost” message as well as he said he did. The next day, Leonard and Penny run into each other in the hall, and Leonard manages to get out enough about what’s going on with Priya that Penny can infer that she needs to keep her distance for a while. She doesn’t seem upset about it, and it doesn’t seem to be rude about it. She just says “goodbye, Leonard” and goes off to work.

At lunch at the university, Sheldon thinks he has the card trick figured out, and he wants to test it out with Raj and Howard. All of the cards have a small barcode on the back, and Sheldon tries to disguise using a scanner by making the scanner look like a magic wand and saying some magic words. Howard and Raj know what he did immediately, and they conspire to keep messing with him. They aren’t even making it look like a magic trick anymore. Raj will pick a card, and whatever Howard guesses, Raj will say he’s right. Sheldon gets even more frazzled once the Department of Homeland Security predictably goes after him for hacking into a government computer and trying to procure uranium. He wants Howard to do the card trick one last time, but he wants to be the one to pick the card. After Sheldon picks his card, Raj helpfully signals it to Howard. Clearly Howard had been relying on his friends being in on the joke the whole time.

No comments:

Post a Comment