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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 7.10 - The Discovery Dissipation






Welcome back to Worldly Distractions. As we approach midseason, the shows are bringing out some of their better material. Is The Big Bang Theory an example? Let's find out.

Uncharacteristically, we get a recap of a previous episode - Sheldon discovers an element, then is dismayed to learn that he miscalculated. The element still exists, but his conclusions were an accident.

We cut to the real episode, where Sheldon is in the middle of a radio interview. Naturally, it's a disaster. He is quick to say that the university forced him to do this, and to express his consternation at what scientists are calling "The Wonder Blunder".  Also, the host sounds weirdly like Alan Alda. When he suggests that Sheldon might win a Nobel Prize in chemistry - how strange for a physicist - Sheldon can take it no longer and storms out, raging that this show is the reason why television's taking over. He might be a few decades late on that one! Opening credits.

Sheldon gets a furious phone call from the university president. After they hang up, he rages about being a trained monkey. Penny mourns the fact that Sheldon of all people is "tall, thin and famous". Sheldon mourns the fame he's received for something he didn't do. This causes Penny to bitterly reflect on her days at Mardi Gras.

Bernadette and Howard are having Raj to stay, though Howard may have misled his wife on the length of said visit. Wait, doesn't Raj live in LA too? Why does he have to stay with his friends? Ah, the old fumigation excuse. Bernadette is dismayed, especially when she learns Raj is bringing Cinnamon, too.

Sheldon dolefully plays with his trains, dubbing one the "Embarrassment Express". Amy comes in to stage a misery intervention, and for some extra help, she's brought Wil Wheaton! Sheldon is freaked by having two whole people in his room, but Amy and Wil try to comfort him anyway. Wil explains that he was bullied for being on Star Trek as a kid. Sheldon finds this notion incomprehensible, but Wil insists it's true, even mentioning a radio interview gone bad. However, he's put that part of his life into perspective and enjoys what he has now. Sheldon asks if they'll play trains with him. Against their better judgment, they sit down and join in. Sheldon's dictatorial nature tanks it pretty fast.

Also, is it just me, or did they turn Amy's Frump Meter up to eleven this episode? It seriously looks like an Amy parody.

Raj has settled in at the Wolowitz-Rostenkowskis, where he wears out his welcome by brushing Cinnamon's teeth on the couch, then promptly brings it back by making his hosts a nice dinner and listening to Bernadette's work complaints. Howard is not so sure what to make of this intruder.

Sheldon tentatively reconciles with the university president. Leonard comes in with the good news that he's disproved Sheldon's element. Cue a gasp of horror from Sheldon and from the audience. The Chinese scientists faked the results, so Sheldon's greatness is gone. Even though he resented the attention while he had it, he's horrified to lose it now. Leonard is somehow surprised by this, though you could have seen it coming a mile off. Sheldon ends his friendships with both Leonard and Penny on the spot. Also, Penny looks horrid this episode, too. Maybe it's time for the costume people to take a vacation?

However, Penny makes the analogy of "he dumped me first", and even though Sheldon doesn't get what she's talking about, he understands enough to realize that she knows what he's going through. Suddenly, they are allies and Leonard's out in the cold. He protests that he couldn't have hidden the information. Sheldon concedes that he has a point, but is still mad at Leonard for punishing. Like Leonard said, you just can't win.

Raj has become SuperGuest, irritating Howard and delighting Bernadette. Once Bernadette leaves for work, Howard turns on his friend, accusing him of trying to make him look bad as a husband. Raj says that Howard's not a bad husband, though his social skills could use a little work.

Leonard has posted his findings, Sheldon has posted a retraction, and the news is out. Though Leonard assures him that mistakes happen all the time in science, Sheldon can't see it in this perspective - it's his first real failure ever, and no matter how old you are, that's hard to take. To make matters worse, Kripke comes by to taunt him. Leonard tries to make him stop, even downplaying his own accomplishments to spare Sheldon's feelings. Kripke then suggests that Sheldon go into retail, because physics just doesn't look like his game. Wait, this was a chemistry discovery! This has nothing to do with physics! The radio guy said so!

Sheldon takes this abuse calmly, then promptly retaliates by mocking Kripke's speech impediment. We all know that this is one place you don't go, and Kripke's horrified reaction (along with the audience's gasp) confirms this. Kripke is deeply hurt - though he doesn't hesitate to get in one last insult when Sheldon "takes it back".

Raj has cooked an awesome dinner and has said many sweet things. Bernadette unwisely takes this moment to lecture Howard on not being thoughtful enough. Howard counters that she could take a leaf out of Raj's book, too. (Side note: they have a picture of Howard in astronaut gear on the side table, and it's the cutest.) Soon they are outright fighting. Raj to the rescue! He effortlessly falls into the role of marriage counselor. Howard and Bernadette each admit that they feel like terrible spouses, while assuring the other that they are wonderful spouses. Everything's sunny in Wolowitz-Rostenkowskiland again. The only problem is, they've turned on Raj. It's his fault they feel inadequate, dammit!

Raj is forced to flee to Sheldon and Leonard's, where he occupies the couch. He forgot Cinnamon's toothbrush, however, so he will share his toothbrush. With the dog. Excuse me while I puke. Sheldon and Amy return, where the former expresses his horror at having an animal in the apartment. He cites Jurassic Park, because he is under the impression that the Yorkie will escape in the night and kill them all for some reason.

Amy asks Sheldon to go out for a nice walk, which he rudely turns down. Raj tries to comfort him, in his patented Raj-the-marriage-counselor style. It simultaneously reassures and infuriates them, so he winds up kicked out again.

Sheldon and Leonard are back on the Totally-Sounds-Like-Alan-Alda show. Sheldon apologizes for his conduct, and expects one in return. He doesn't get it. Pissed off, he proceeds to walk all over Leonard in the interview. It's revealed that Sheldon wasn't actually supposed to be on the show, but just sort of tagged along. Leonard is the true guest. They get into an argument, while an exasperated Penny and Amy listen from Penny's apartment. Penny suggests a drinking game, but Amy wonders if it's too early for booze. Just then, Sheldon starts to yodel. Amy heads for the vodka.

I really liked this episode. A Sheldon kicked off his high horse always makes for good comedy, and this one took an interesting twist with its "he dumped me first" plot. Howard and Bernadette's plot started off as filler, but led into some interesting and funny moments, culminating with the hilarious dinner table scene. Poor old Raj - he never gets a break. Wil Wheaton's cameo was short, but he did a good job. Wheaton is actually becoming a character rather than a gimmick, which is always nice to see. Everyone brought their A game this week, and the result was a strong episode. Next week is the Christmas episode, which appears to be some sort of take on It's a Wonderful Life. Cliched, but who knows? Maybe a glimpse of life without Sheldon could be enlightening...

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