‘The Big Bang Theory’ Recap: “The Zazzy Substitution”

‘The Big Bang Theory’ Recap: “The Zazzy Substitution”

Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg
Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg

S4:E3 On last night’s The Big Bang Theory, two of my favorite things in the world met: the TV character Sheldon Cooper and a bunch of cats. And that part was awesome.

Now, don’t make fun of me. I may be a male, but cats are sweet! Seriously. On Sunday afternoons, there’s nothin’ better than laying on my couch and reading a book with my big, fat, furry cat on my stomach. And to see Sheldon sitting around his apartment with about 20 cats jumping around — all named after scientists from the Manhattan project (except for Zazzles, who’s the “zazziest cat”) — was nothing short of hilarious.

But sadly, despite all the fun with cats, The Big Bang Theory, although not quite as bad as last week’s episode, once again disappointed.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly was wrong with this week’s episode, but the more I think about it, the more I feel that the whole cast was just off. I know that’s not very specific, but let me explain.

In TV shows like The Big Bang Theory, there’s a heavy reliance on the ensemble part of the show. Yeah, Sheldon is hilarious, but without the supporting cast to provide balance against his looney character, the jokes wouldn’t work nearly as well. And in the time The Big Bang Theory has been on the air, it’s done a fantastic job establishing itself as a great ensemble comedy. So much, that watching an episode feels more like you’re hanging out with friends versus watching TV.

But now, the ensemble has changed. They’ve brought in a new character, Sheldon’s “friend that is a girl, not a girlfriend,” Amy. Not only an addition to the cast, but a character who is exactly like Sheldon, except in female form and perhaps, a little less aware of social interaction. So now we have this new woman who’s jumped in and is trying to act like one of the gang, except it’s not working.

This isn’t to discredit Mayim Bialik’s performance as Amy. If Sheldon were to meet a female version of himself, I have no doubt that she’d be exactly like Bialik’s portrayal of Amy. But it just doesn’t fit. The Amy character throws off the entire vibe and timing of the cast. Instead of having one super-genius who’s unaware how to act with other humans correctly, we have two. And therefore, we have a lot of repetition of the same types of jokes from different characters. Plus, in all honesty, Amy is a little more harsh in her judgements than Sheldon. Yes, Sheldon disapproves of how his friends handle their lives, but he isn’t mean about it. He just pokes fun, almost like a professor or teacher would. We know deep down that Sheldon does care about the rest of the gang.

But this new character, this Amy, she’s just flat out mean. She doesn’t joke, she condescends. And remember how I said these characters feel like our friends? Well, most people don’t like it when their friends are criticized or made fun of. In fact, most friends hate it and want the person who’s doing the criticizing to go jump out of a window.

So in this episode, when Amy’s around, it’s not fun, and it’s definitely not funny. So when they break up and Sheldon adopts a bunch of cats, we feel a relief that we no longer have to deal with this crazy “friend that’s a girl” anymore, and we can just enjoy the silly situations that Sheldon puts himself in.

But sadly, the two mend their differences and the episode ends with them together again. So next week, we’ll have more Amy. And that sucks. Hopefully the writers have figured out a way to make her more likable, because with Big Bang’s current direction, I’m liking the ensemble less and less the more Amy is involved.

Regardless, I hope Sheldon kept at least one cat. Those cute, little, furry creatures. Side note: I think I’ll probably start calling my cat “Zazzles” because he is quite zazzy.