Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Big Bang Theory 4.22: "The Wildebeest Implementation"

“Nothing rhymes with orange. It’s probably lonely.”

Okay, I’ll say it. The “Big Bang Theory” powers that be went way out of their wheelhouse with this episode. I watch the show for the geekery, not for silly, petty plots that marginalize female characters. This episode was much more focused on the latter than the former. I think this is a problem inherent in adding Amy and Bernadette to our stable of regular characters. Normally, I would applaud adding a stronger female perspective (in addition to Penny’s) on the boys’ geekery, but I haven’t really seen much evidence that this show can portray female characters well. According to “The Big Bang Theory,” all we do is go out for drinks, go to the restroom together, and shop for shoes. Sure I do all those things, but there are many more things I enjoy too. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t be watching “The Big Bang Theory.” I’d be watching “Sex and the City.”

The opening of the episode especially showed how incapable this show is of portraying women. Amy, Bernadette, and Penny are in a rest room, and Amy is making Penny uncomfortable, naturally. Bernadette mentions that Priya invited her and Howard to dinner. Amy thinks Bernadette should accept the invitation and use the opportunity to be a sort of double agent. All this high school cliquiness is getting old fast. To add insult to injury, the ladies follow up their restroom chit chat with some shoe shopping. Can we get any more stereotypical?

Finally, we move back into some more familiar territory for the show. Sheldon is trying to develop a three person chess game, and he’s telling Leonard all about it as Leonard prepares to go to the dinner Priya has arranged. Throughout the episode, Sheldon’s game gets more and more complicated- he keeps inventing new pieces like the poisonous snake. It’s a welcome bit of geekiness and Sheldon’s neuroses in the middle of what is not a typical storyline for this show. After leaving Sheldon to his game, Leonard runs into Amy in the hallway. Amy has on new pointy-toed shoes and is walking very awkwardly. I had to admit, that was actually pretty funny. When Leonard arrives at Priya and Raj’s apartment, he finds a very exasperated Raj. Raj says he’s lonely, and he resents having to leave the apartment so Priya, Leonard, Howard, and Bernadette can have their dinner and be coupley.

We then switch to Penny’s apartment, where Amy and Penny are sitting on the couch eagerly awaiting Bernadette’s double agent reports. They receive news from Bernadette in the form of text messages. Then Penny and Amy decide that they should tell Bernadette things to say to make Priya unhappy. First, they tell Bernadette to let Priya know that Penny is about to go to Europe to shoot a movie with Angelina Jolie. And it’s going to be in 3-D. When we switch to the point of view of the dinner, Leonard says he’s surprised by this news. Well, he’s mostly surprised that Penny didn’t tell him about the job already. This gets him in a little trouble with Priya of course, who demands to know why he’d be surprised that Penny wouldn’t tell him something when he’s not dating Penny and he’s not really supposed to be hanging out with her anymore. Leonard kind of just cowers and apologizes. As much as I liked Priya when she first appeared, I really can’t wait for her to be gone now. Watching her be Leonard’s puppetmaster is just not good TV.

As the evening goes on Bernadette starts to have difficulty keeping her stories on track. The rest of the group starts questioning her in detail on the things she’s told them, especially that Penny is now dating an astronaut. They want to know how Penny met an astronaut in Pasadena/LA while most astronauts live in Houston. Bernadette escapes to the bathroom and frantically calls Penny and Bernadette. They want her to keep up the spy act, even though she’s seriously about to spontaneously combust. She’s seriously feeling the guilt. She also spills some interesting news she learned during the course of the evening. Priya and Leonard are planning a trip to India for the summer. This makes Penny very worried (sill Evil Wil Wheaton, convincing her to break up with Leonard in the first place!), and she wants Bernadette to go back to spying. This time Bernadette’s mission is to find out if this trip to India means Priya and Leonard are engaged. Bernadette does as she’s told and finds out that they are not, in fact engaged, nor are they anywhere near getting engaged. After accomplishing her mission, Bernadette just plain can’t take the subterfuge anymore. She goes on a rant about being a good Catholic girl and storms out of the apartment. Howard runs after her, looking quite confused.

Meanwhile, after being banished from his apartment thanks to the dinner party, Raj finds himself at Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment. Sheldon is playing three-person chess by himself, and he doesn’t especially want to be interrupted. At first, he doesn’t even let Raj in. Eventually he takes pity on his friend, however, and Raj gets an invitation to hang out and have Sheldon’s obligatory upset friend hot beverage. While Sheldon is preparing said hot beverage, Raj starts whining again about how he’s along and is going to stay that way. Then he pulls a pill bottle out and asks Sheldon his opinion on whether or not he should try taking some experimental social anxiety meds some university colleagues gave him. Haven’t we done this plot back in late season 1? Raj passing by the poster advertising that clinical trial and then sneaking back to take the information is one of the funniest scenes of the entire series. I guess Chuck Lorre and crew don’t expect we viewers to have that good of a memory.

The joke is taken a little farther this time, although I still prefer the original. Sheldon inexplicably agrees to accompany Raj to a coffee shop to try out the meds. Everything is going well, and Raj is making conversation with a nice woman, when all of a sudden the meds kick in a little too well. Raj gets just a bit too comfortable, and the coffee shop patrons get to see a lot more of him than they probably ever wanted to as he begins to take off all his clothes. Poor Raj. He just can’t find anything other than alcohol to help with his selective mutism around women. The last experimental drug caused strange twitches, and now this.

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