‘The Big Bang Theory’ Recap: The Apology Insufficiency

S4E7: Well, we’re now seven episodes into The Big Bang Theory‘s fourth season, the season following Jim Parsons‘ (Sheldon Cooper) Emmy win. And now, after what this season has presented, I think it’s safe to say that Big Bang is now heading in a different direction. It’s no longer an ensemble. It’s all about Sheldon.

In each recap I’ve written for this season (and specifically, last week‘s), I’ve shared my frustration with Big Bang turning from its original ensemble approach to now focus on one specific character. And I guess I don’t need to repeat myself too much, but let me just say, it’s moved from annoying to just, sad.

What I mean is the writers are focusing all of their energy on trying to make Sheldon funny every week, versus letting it organically happen within the ensemble. Parsons is an extremely talented actor, and in reality, he doesn’t need that much to make Sheldon funny. I mean, we all know the basics. Sheldon is narcissistic, a nerd, and extremely intelligent. Since the inception of the show, he’s always been trying to figure out these weird things that humans have called emotions. And usually, he figures things out through the expense of others in the ensemble. This week, the victim was Howard, who has an opportunity to advance his career with a new project with the government, but in order to do that, the FBI is must interview all of his friends and acquaintances. So after the setup, a hot FBI agent comes and interviews each of the guys, and in Sheldon’s interview, he accidentally drops the information that Howard crashed the Mars rover once upon a time to impress a girl. And so, bam, Sheldon ruins Howard’s chances and now we spend the rest of the episode with Sheldon as he tries to get Howard to forgive him. And don’t get me wrong, Sheldon dealing with guilt is pretty funny. But outside of that gag, this is where Big Bang continues to falter. Let me explain.

For example, Sheldon’s gag of spitting the whiskey back into the shot glass at the bar was hilarious (and also, welcome back Kaley Cuoco! Hope your leg is alright!). And the reason it was so funny, although a tad predictable, was that the writers took some time to let Parsons have fun with that scene. He spits out the shot, takes it again, spits it out again, and then takes it one more time, only to spit it out again. And all during the scene, we can’t help but focus on the shot of booze and wonder, “Is he going to do it again?” And each time he does, it’s even more funny.

Now, compare scene to the other gags, specifically in the interview process. When the FBI agent shows up with Raj, he has to get some alcohol in his system before he can talk. And when she comes to Leonard, he tries to hit on her. But the thing that separates the Sheldon-shot gag from those is that the writers gave Sheldon more than 30 seconds to make the scene funny. In the other characters bits, they seemed to rush through those moments, just so we could get back to something featuring Sheldon.

Granted, maybe you’re thinking that the Sheldon-shot scene was the focal point of the episode, so the writers had to make that scene longer than the other setup ones. And that’s true. But here’s the issue: there aren’t any other scenes to compare to Sheldon’s, simply because the writers have completely abandoned trying to make the entire ensemble funny, just as long as Sheldon is.

On a different note, let me say how disappointed I was with the writers regarding Raj. Since the FBI agent ended up being a hottie, I thought, “Finally, they’re going to deal with Raj not being able to talk to women.” But nope, they just abandoned it completely for the same effing joke they’ve done in every situation that Raj deals with a woman: get him booze! Ugh. But it was telling that him going mute is 100% psychological. I mean, c’mon. He was talking to her within seconds of eating that rum cake. So maybe, just maybe, they’re setting it up for the audience and will find a way to force him to break this muteness and talk to women. At least I hope so. But man, this week’s episode was the perfect moment to do that, and I think relying on the overused booze joke was another sign of lazy writing from Big Bang.

I love this show, so it pains me to be so hard on it this season. I just feel that the writers can do so much more than they have, and it pisses me off when shows I love suffer because of lazy writing. And to that, I say one thing: bazinga.