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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 6.22 - The Proton Resurgence


crazyforkate

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Thursday brings us The Big Bang Theory, with nerds and romance and some of the silliest jokes under the sun. Sheldon and friends have made us laugh for six years now – let’s see what they have to offer this week.

At the Cooper-Hofstadter residence, Leonard teaches Penny how to point a nerf gun using only her computer. Within seconds, it is fired at an irate Sheldon. Despite this, he is not deterred from telling them who he just found online. After hinting that they’re lucky he’s out of Silly String, he explains that he has found Professor Proton online. The former children’s science TV host (kind of like Bill Nye, I guess) was an inspirational figure to many budding scientists, including our favourite Bozos of Caltech. Penny doesn’t get the appeal, but no matter. Sheldon finds out that you can hire him for events, and decides to do so even if they have none forthcoming. The chance to hang out with Professor Proton – who wouldn’t love that? Also, is it just me or does Penny get meaner and meaner as this show goes on? “Awesome†is relative, you silly twit. The guys sing the theme song as they write to their hero. Bring on the opening credits.

Over lunch, Raj tells Howard that he has to be away for a while and needs someone to care for his dog. Are they ever going to name that thing? I don’t think it’s been mentioned on this show once. Howard suggests putting her in a kennel, to which Raj suggests he put his mother in a home. Touché. After a while, Howard grudgingly accepts. Sheldon runs in all a-twitter because he’s managed to schedule Professor Proton’s visit. Leonard is just about as excited. Howard, however, thinks the show was “lameâ€, which gets him uninvited. (I’m guessing Raj didn’t grow up with him at all, unless they were syndicated in India.) A huge cheque may have played a part in this occasion, but Sheldon will take what he can get.

Raj comes over to Howard and Bernadette’s with a huge pink stroller, cheerfully announcing that they’re here to see “Uncle Howard†for “a sleepover partyâ€. We also finally find out the damned dog’s name – Cinnamon, which is exactly the type of thing Raj’s Yorkie would be named. Howard is completely grossed out by the sickly sweet puppy talk, but Raj takes it in stride. He launches into a series of instructions he considers “simpleâ€, which are reminiscent of the care and feeding of Tricki Woo in All Creatures Great And Small (in other words, ridiculously complicated and frivolous). Remember, guys – if I ever die, and reincarnation is real, I want to come back as Raj’s dog. Howard is nonplussed. Methinks Bernadette will have the situation in line before too long, so he needn’t worry. Anyway, Howard can sympathize with the dog, because “I’ve got a psychotic mommy, too.â€

Leonard is awakened by Sheldon in the next room. He can’t sleep because he’s too excited for Professor Proton. Leonard is decidedly unsympathetic. Sheldon persists. Through the bedroom wall, he consults Leonard on potential wardrobe choices, most notably a tuxedo. Leonard gives in and plays along, ending the conversation – but is still kept awake by Sheldon practicing his greetings. Leonard walks out of his room. A loud slap is heard. Sheldon speaks no more. Satisfied, Leonard crawls back into bed. Sheldon complains that he still can’t sleep. Hofstadter rage begins.

Howard, Bernadette and Cinnamon return from their walk, which they really enjoyed. The sight of the couple with a baby carriage raises the usual questions. Bernadette comments that she felt like part of a family with the dog present. Seeing the puppy, she finds motherhood more appealing. They turn to look back at Cinnamon – and find that she’s escaped. Turns out each thought the other was supposed to put her back in the stroller. Panicking, they grab their coats and head back to the park.

Professor Proton is late. Only by a few minutes, but as you can imagine, Sheldon is driven batty. Suddenly he gets a phone call. The eminent professor is stuck on the third floor, defeated by an exhausting flight of stairs. Penny, Leonard and Sheldon rush to help him up. Hey, maybe they’ll finally fix the elevator after this?

Sheldon runs onto the landing, where we are faced with...

Wait for it...

Drumroll...

BOB NEWHART!

Holy shit, guys. Seriously. The comedy legend has deigned to pay this little sitcom a visit. Best guest star ever, amazing, fantabulous. I am babbling, but it’s true. A giant cheer comes up from the laugh track. Brilliant. It’s the man himself. Let’s watch the cameo of a lifetime.

Proton immediately asks that they call him Arthur, which just about kills Sheldon. The professor is rather taken aback by Sheldon, as is understandable, but Leonard assures him that he’s a genius. This does not comfort him. Wonderful antics from Jim Parsons being all starstruck. Simply perfect. And Newhart’s lines are absolute killers. It’s such a treat to see him. Proton is immediately interested in getting to know Penny better. Scientist + hot girl is always an eventful equation. He comments that he hopes he hasn’t kept “the kids†waiting for the show. Sheldon explains that the show’s for him, which just about causes the Professor to flee, stairs or no stairs. Nonetheless, he decides to stay, and comments to Leonard that if Penny’s really his girlfriend, then he’s the real genius.

Sheldon sits in his spot staring at his boyhood idol, with Leonard alongside him, giving Proton a serious case of the creeps. As the only one with real social skills, Penny attempts some small talk. They get onto the topic of what this appearance entails. Leonard says they want to hang out and learn a bit about the man behind the science. The Professor launches into the tragic tale. After the show was cancelled, no one in science would take him seriously. After this, he did children’s parties just to make ends meet. He’s a little confused as to why two full-grown physicists would want to see a children’s science show, because he has apparently never heard of the concept of nostalgia before. He explains that he is a real scientist with his own Ph.D., but Sheldon just wants to know if he brought his puppet. No, he hasn’t – he hates that puppet. Fortunately, Sheldon just happens to have his own “Gino the Neutrino†on hand, complete with horrible imitation. The Professor looks to Penny for assurance that this isn’t some kind of dream, or acid trip.

Howard and Bernadette drive around in search of Cinnamon. It occurs to them that she might only respond to Raj’s pronunciation, which leads to some terribly half-assed Indian accents. Howard gets turned on by Bernadette’s Raj imitation. No, Virginia, the ersatz gay relationship isn’t going away just because Howard’s married. They continue their search.

Sheldon is totally into Proton’s appearance, acting like a competitive kindergartner (even more than usual) while Penny just seems dumber. Like, there’s a difference between normal and stupid, writers. He shows them some basic experiments, which impress the hell out of Penny. He’s glad to have her as a captive audience, but a little taken aback by her scientific reasoning. As are we all, Professor P. He decides to quit early and give Sheldon his money back. Sheldon of course thinks it’s Penny’s fault, but Proton explains that she’s the reason he stayed. No, he just doesn’t want to be Professor Proton anymore. Sheldon is aghast. He explains that at eighty-three, he’s sick of being a joke. Sheldon says wait, he’ll be right back, and runs off to get something. While he’s gone, Penny asks just how the potato clock works. The Professor wonders what Penny and Leonard could possibly talk about.

Sheldon returns with an autographed picture of Professor Proton, explaining that he wrote a fan letter as a child and received this in return. As a lonely little boy, he found solace in watching the Professor. Every day, he had a reliable friend to look up to, one who could do science with him. It focused him towards science and led him to the eventual path his life would take. Leonard chimes in that Sheldon is probably far from the only one, and that many important discoveries may have been made by former Professor Proton fans. It was because of him that this generation’s science was made possible. Professor Proton is touched, and thanks them for their encouragement, to which they reply that they want him to know what he has meant to them. Unfortunately, at that moment the professor has sudden problems with his pacemaker. Leonard runs to call 911, Penny suggests they plug it into the potato. Flanderization, guys, Flanderization. Sheldon looks disgusted.

Raj gets a phone call from a stranger, who says they’ve found his dog. He is confused, not knowing that she was missing, but immediately goes to pick her up. Looks like Howard and Bernadette will be the ones in the doghouse.

Professor Proton is doing okay, but the paramedics take him in just to be sure. Sheldon volunteers to go with him in the ambulance, Leonard and Penny will meet him at the hospital with his stuff. Penny apologizes for how the day went. Professor Proton says that at least he won’t have to walk down the stairs again. Sheldon is thrilled – he got to meet the Professor and ride in an ambulance!

Bernadette and Howard have obviously not found the dog, and are pretty despondent. Bernadette thinks this is an indicator of her poor parenting skills, but Howard consoles her by saying that “Kids are like pancakes, the first one’s always a throwaway.†They’ve made up Missing posters and are ready to continue when Raj comes up on Skype. Howard claims that Bernadette has taken the dog on a walk, but Raj isn’t buying it. He holds up Cinnamon, calling Howard a big liar. He’s horrified at the Rostenkowski-Wolowitzes’ negligence. They apologize, but then Bernadette works out that he’s had Cinnamon for hours without telling them. She is pissed. The whole time they were worried about the dog, who was in the lap of luxury with her indulgent owner. Bernie gives him a firm lecture and suddenly Raj is the one in the wrong. That woman is going to be an excellent mother, as Howard notes in awe.

We cut to – this is beautiful – Jim Parsons singing “Soft Kitty†to a terrified Bob Newhart in his hospital bed. Yep, Sheldon is pretty much the last person I’d want visiting me too. However, when Sheldon asks if there’s anything he can do, Professor Proton replies that in fact there is! He was scheduled to do a birthday party tomorrow, and since Sheldon knows the act, he was wondering if his biggest fan could substitute. Sheldon is overwhelmed, and for the first time thinks he’s unworthy of something. However, he accepts, calling himself “Professor Proton Jr.†– upon which he embraces the professor, calling him Father. At this point, Professor Proton pretty much just gives in. Nice world-weary look from Newhart, who is and will always be hilarious. End credits.

Though the Howard-Bernadette storyline was a little weak, it was still amusing enough. The real star of the show, however, was the Professor Proton storyline. With a wonderful appearance from Bob Newhart and some excellent acting by Parsons, we had a fantastic show on our hands. It’s always fun when a good guest star appears on our favourite shows, and this week The Big Bang Theory had one of the best. In the meantime, I’ve got to see if I can get Bob Newhart at my next birthday party. Preferably with potato clock in tow.

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