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"The Cooper Extraction"/S7E11

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 2:55 PM

By Dhruv Rao

I still remember when my friends and I gathered around the christmas-themed living room a few years ago to watch It's A Wonderful Life. I had heard a lot about it, but no one thought to tell me that it was released in the 1940s....and that it was in Black and White. It felt refreshing to watch a holiday classic, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance with gingerbread cookies and yule logs. The essence of the film was somewhat parallel to that of another classic, A Christmas Carol. The acquaintance of certain lessons in the lives of these characters during this special time of year. Many sitcoms have used this idea to their advantage. The first example I could think of would be The Suite Life On Deck, where the writers used Charles Dickinson's idea to teach London a lesson. This week, the characters of The Big Bang Theory are taught that their most annoying friend is the one who has brought about the big changes in their lives. As viewers, we see Sheldon's highs and lows, and we get frustrated at his conduct at various points during the course of an episode. However, a world without Sheldon would have never brought this amazing show together. 


It took a while to get this particular episode's recap done. It's not because I'm lazy but because the episode's response was in a way ineffable. It felt strong and weak simultaneously. It didn't advance the plot; however, it changed the relations between the characters. The idea behind the episode was a goldmine: taking the most pedantic character in the series and make sure the viewers understand how he is the nucleus of the show. (Just keep in mind that Leonard is the main character, not Sheldon. Sheldon is the breakout character, like Barney on HIMYM). I have often applauded Carter and Craig for their out-of-the-box methods of storytelling which has become conventional only to HIMYM. HIMYM have the story told through many voices, and that's what makes the show unique. However, TBBT doesn't really have its own methods of telling a story, i.e. the writers resort to the traditional way of expressing a point of view. This episode was filled with clicheed and inventive jokes. Some of the hypothetical situations were funny. On the other hand, some were just a drag. Let's put the ones I liked and the ones I didn't into separate categories, shall we?

I enjoyed how Amy showed us how her life was before Sheldon. She was lonely and celebrated her birthday in solitude. The pathetic Amy jokes are classic, and since I'm a sucker for 'em, I often relish those moments. Another classic on the show is the bromance between two male characters: Raj and Howard. Bernadette's description of how she would have met Howard without Sheldon is a running gag that slowly faded after season three, but the writers have picked up the joke this season ("The Proton Displacement"). The final situation which I enjoyed was Leonard and Penny's fate if it weren't for Sheldon. However, the rest were fairly mediocre. Leonard's vision wasn't really that funny, even if it proved how dumb Zack is. Raj's vision of Leonard and him being fat and living together didn't work for me, and I'm still trying to unsee what I saw. Another thing I wish I didn't see is the Penny-Sheldon bit, where Penny is driven into Sheldon's arms after being neighbours for a while with Leonard out of the game. 

The B-plot wasn't a fantasy. Sheldon paid a visit to his mother's for the birth of his sister's first. The skype calls in between the hypothetical discussions is what brought some originality into the episode. Sheldon's comments went from pessimistic to horrified to relieved. And that's when the writers do their job well. They let Jim Parsons' emotions fluctuate, thus giving subtle nuances to Sheldon's character. It feels much better when they do that. The writers including Stuart as well was a treat, as one could relate to how he felt left out. That's where the Golden Globe nomination for the show makes sense. The negative point is that there is no control over the jokes. However, the positive point is that the writers somehow get the cast to be relatable at times, and that's when the show gets its peak moments.

If I could give leave message, it would be this: The Big Bang Theory really needs to work on its character development. However, this episode was a good one. It had its own moments which the fans will always remember. Finally, before I bid adieu, I would like to wish all of you a happy new year from all of us at The DR Club...

Grade: B

Stray Observations:

- Bernadette: "How come the three of you never got an apartment together?" Leonard:  "We talked about it, but Howard was in a pretty serious relationship with his mom."

- Sheldon: "I've seen things. Lady things." Amy:  "Listen to me. That is not the way they usually look." Sheldon: "It doesn't matter. This is no way to make new humans. People coming out of people. Some kind of dirty magic show."

- Sheldon: "The second I go out of town you throw a Christmas party without me?" Amy: "Yeah, kind of." Sheldon: "That's so thoughtful. You guys are the best."

- Leonard: "Uhh, umm. I'm Leonard." Penny: "Really? You don't sound so sure." (Kaley Cuoco's style of delivering lines is just amazing)

- Leonard, Zack and Penny wet themselves in the fantasy sequnces. However, Kaley Cuoco was gold in her part.

-Raj:  "[Amy] If you were having Sheldon's baby, would you really want him in the room?" Penny: "If he's in the room when they're making the baby, I'll give you $10." Once again, Kaley Cuoco is just fabulous.

- Amy has a sack of rice with Sheldon's t-shirt on it. That's not original. HIMYM discussed Lily's body pillow three years ago!

Categories: The Big Bang Theory

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