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Worldly Distractions: The Big Bang Theory 7.7 - The Proton Displacement




Welcome back! The network gave us a bit of a break last week, then rewarded us for our patience with the return of Bob Newhart - plus another, very special guest who will presumably make every ex-90's kid faint.

Shopping with Sheldon is always an ordeal, so both Amy and Leonard serve as his supermarket escorts. However, it's relatively uneventful - restocking the medicine cabinet always makes Sheldon happy. But who should they spot waiting in line just metres away? Yes, it's the one and only Professor Proton! Huge cheer from the audience at the sight of Newhart. Sheldon wants to go and talk to him, but Leonard is reluctant, remembering how the last encounter ended. They strike up a conversation, but Proton is mostly just stunned that Sheldon has a girlfriend. Yeah, we're surprised too. Amy is her usual charming self, chatting about how they have the same orthopedic shoes. He's also very disappointed that Penny's not there, the old goat.

Eventually, Sheldon becomes his usual intrusive self. Despite Amy and Leonard's careful attempts to drag him away ("Let's go mock the people buying homeopathic medicine!"), he insists on staying with his "friend". Proton looks like he's about to have an aneurysm. Opening credits.

Howard asks Raj to do something with him while Bernadette has Girls' Night, but Raj is actually invited to Girls' Night, so it's moot. Everyone mocks Raj for his girliness. I say own it, Raj. Leonard suddenly gets an email from Professor Proton, asking him to collaborate on a project. Sheldon is surprised, and quickly checks his email to find two messages from Proton - one asking for Leonard's address, one telling him "Never mind, I find it."

Sheldon is extraordinarily miffed. The guys try to console him by pointing out that Proton is not exactly a leading scientific authority. This doesn't work - he's still bitter at home hours later. Proton is just a cruel phony, and Sheldon has no time for phonies.

Amy thinks he's being overly dramatic. She tactfully tells him that maybe "a bit much" at a first meeting. Sheldon dismisses this suggestion, demonstrating his brilliant social skills as proof. She tries to tell him that he can be considered - something, but stops before saying the adjective in question. Sheldon correctly deduces that she means to say "annoying". Unfortunately, he hounds Amy to say this until she storms out of the apartment. Nice going, Shelly.

Amy, Raj, Bernadette and Penny are having a wine and jewelry-making sesh. Howard comes in, and proceeds to covertly mock Raj's masculinity, saying he "just wants to have fu-un", Lauper style. When he sees the jewelry-in-progress, he suggests that they use his soldering iron for even more options. Raj coldly refuses. However, he's outvoted by the women. Penny, for her part, is still struggling with the glue.

Sheldon shows up at Proton's house. The old man is not happy to be woken up, but softens a bit when Sheldon explains he's there to apologize. More old age jokes. When Sheldon continues on to offer his assistance to Proton's paper - including the phrase "You're a washed-up has-been" for good measure - he backs away. Sheldon tries to get him to say the word "annoying", which has the same result as it did with Amy. However, Proton eventually swings the door open and says the magic word. Sheldon is crushed. Well, it's not like he didn't ask for it...

Leonard is all starstruck while working with Proton (now "Arthur" for the purposes of this post), who is not impressed. Sheldon makes things worse by trying to crash the research session. However, he's not going to stay long - he's already started a project of his own, with another science-related television personality. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is Bill Nye.

Okay, so if you grew up in the 1990's or 2000's, you have to admit that most of your science education came from this guy and his wonderful show. Certainly most of my teachers thought it was an adequate substitute for actual teaching. And for those with competent educators, I'm sure most of you caught him at home after school anyway. The point is - people of a certain demographic idolize Bill Nye, a hero of our childhoods, and it is GREAT to see him. He looks a bit grey around the edges, but the goofy dude of educational programming is still there. Love ya, Bill.

So, CFK picks herself up off the floor and we proceed. Sheldon has brought in a slightly confused-looking Bill Nye to one-up Arthur and Leonard, but Nye ruins it by proclaiming his delight at meeting his educational-television hero. However, there was apparently a plagiarism lawsuit against him back in the day, instigated by Prof Proton's people, so Arthur is not exactly enthused. (Also, is it just me, or does Bill Nye resemble Jimmy Stewart more than ever? You SO know that Jimmy would have been a Bill Nye had he lived now.)

Anyway, Bill is properly cowed and Leonard tries to smooth things over. Nye was roped in when Sheldon implied he would be teaching a class. Sheldon, however, points out that he said it was "teaching someone a lesson", which is very different. The poor bastard is stuck, dominated by the Laws of Sitcom Writing. Sheldon leaves to begin the revenge research. Nye, however, is captivated by Leonard and Arthur's work. Arthur is still overtly hostile. Nye is sent fleeing from the room.

Penny, Amy and Raj are back into the jewelry-making, over at Penny's apartment. Penny still hasn't gotten the hang of jewelry-making but is happy enough to get into the wine. Raj mentions that his parents are having a bit of a marital crisis. Bernadette shows up, toting Howard and the soldering iron to "put the Jew in jewelry night". Someone...someone actually wrote that line? I feel sorry for Simon Helberg for having to say it.

Howard unveils his suitcase full of jewelry-making implements, repurposed from the CalTech lab. He also manages to crack a few jokes about masculinity at poor Raj's expense. Also, more jokes about how Penny is stupid. She can't handle glue? Did she pass kindergarten?

Leonard and Arthur are ready to test the device, to their delight. Well, to Bob Newhart's underwhelmed delight, but the feeling comes across. However, at the fatal moment, Sheldon ruins the mood by texting Leonard what might be the world's greatest selfie - a picture of him and Bill Nye getting smoothies. Arthur asks Leonard why he and Sheldon are friends. Leonard can't find an answer.

Eventually, he comes up with some traits - Sheldon is trustworthy, loyal, smart, etc - though Arthur points out that he's basically describing a dog. Nonetheless, Leonard maintains that they need each other. He gets another text. At first he assumes it's another picture, but no - Sheldon needs a ride because Nye has become the second beloved television scientist in as many days to ditch him. This, of course, causes another barb about moneygrubbing from Arthur.

Howard is still showing off his creative techniques, including a way to make diamonds from hair. Raj is sick of Howard getting all the attention, and has taken to muttering quietly on the couch. With all the jokes on his masculinity, his pride is more than a little hurt. Penny tells him to STFU. Howard takes off his protective gear and asks Raj what this is about. Raj explains that he feels more comfortable with "the girls" sometimes, as Howard does nothing but tease him, even when things are sensitive. Howard pulls the "just kidding" trick, but no one's buying it. He then sincerely apologizes, acknowledging the hurt he's caused. They hug it out, while Amy bitterly comments that they'll probably have sex before she and Sheldon do.

Arthur unexpectedly shows up at Sheldon's apartment, clutching a large envelope. Sheldon goes to get Leonard. Arthur explains that no, he's here to see him. Fresh off a restraining order from Bill Nye, Sheldon is all ears. The envelope contains Arthur's paper, which he wants Sheldon to review before he sends it in. Sheldon graciously accepts, but explains that he doesn't need the paper, because he already hacked Arthur's email and read it. After he regains composure, Arthur asks what Sheldon thought of it. Sheldon is full of opinions, of course. He thinks the professor has shitty email security - and that the paper was inspired. A compliment from Sheldon Cooper?! I'm going to faint again. Like a good friend, Sheldon invites Arthur in for a hot beverage. Arthur refuses... until Penny walks in.

Raj shows up at Howard's with a peace offering (a light-up lightsaber belt buckle - wow, I wish I had one of those) and an apology for flipping out on him the other night. The trouble is, Raj has his own lightsaber belt buckle, and expects to swordfight. Yes, while the lightsabers are attached to their belts. Yes, it is exactly the image you're thinking of. Howard just looks exasperated. Oh, that crazy sitcom sidekick!

Sheldon regales Arthur with the story of his Professor Proton viewership while Leonard hands out tea. Starstruck once again, Sheldon asks Arthur's help in plotting revenge against Bill Nye. He runs out of the room. Arthur takes the opportunity to ask Penny if she has any single grandmothers. "No, they're both married," she says.


Ba dum, ch!

Okay, so it was a pretty good episode. Bob Newhart was priceless as usual, and the plot was well-driven and funny. Some terrific moments from Amy, and a good conclusion between Howard and Raj (though I'm getting really tired of the masculinity digs, too). My main complaint: there was too little Bill Nye. Only one scene, and it wasn't nearly enough. However, the rivalry between the two TV scientists was hysterical, and the selfie just about made my life. Bill Nye, Jim Parsons, and smoothies. What more could a viewer want?

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