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"The Friendship Turbulence"/S7E17

Posted on April 4, 2014 at 5:25 AM

By Dhruv Rao

The Big Bang Theory has had its own set of highs and lows. However, those were as an ordinary sitcom using traditional methods of storytelling. This week, drama took over the episode and filled the studio audience's annoying over-reactions to oohs and aahs along with the laughter they provide everytime a small joke is said. I recall the People's Choice Awards from two years ago, when Kaley Cuoco first hosted. She brought the entire studio audience along, and they laughed at anything she said. And that exactly is the problem on a sitcom like TBBT, where the laugh track isn't used appropriately. A laugh track is like puntuation in a sentence: if you insert a comma or a colon too many, you're entire sentence fails. However, with television shows, people tend to get habituated to the studio audience's reactions after a while.

This week, the separate friendships are split in a non-conventional method. The primary plot involved Sheldon and Howard becoming better friends while the subplots involved Penny and Leonard's relationship strengthining, and Amy helping Raj with his online dating. The writers deserve a thumbs up for their wit in getting some relationships mended while their writing stands to question. The flow of the script didn't play out as they thought (or as I originally thought as I saw the promo this week).  The problem with the episode was the constraint of time on the story. If they were given time, the stories would have been beautifully played out, and everyone would have been happy. But, the writers fell under the same trick as the HIMYM writers did for the series finale: they thought that they could easily fit changes in character development into a single episode. 

Firstly, the Sheldon-Howard plot interested me as the writers revealed something on the characters' past. Furthermore, Howard's past actions are just hilarious, especially with the presentation and the magazine subscription (Except the surprisingly fun puzzle page, Granny On Granny is complete filth. Well, Sheldon, what should I say?) The writers' idea to mend the relationship is golden, and they didn't take the story too far: the two friends just jump on a flight to Houston together. The various actions and dialogues in between are hilarious; however, the turbulence in the flight is nothing but a scene from a soap opera. (I mean, two grown men holding hands because of strong wind? That's the idea a soap would give you.) On the whole, the plot was a win as the two friends did get closer with a few confessions and funny moments in the airplane. 

The other two plots weren't as great as the A-plot. I'm happy that the writers experimented with new friendships this week, but the result was as disastrous as the scavenger hunt episode earlier this season: the comedy wasn't spot-on and the storyline seemed to be walking on a tightrope. The Leonard-Penny part of the episode made sense, but it didn't click with the A-plot. This was the only plot out of the trio that was regarding the 3 relationships. Each frame made life seem worse for Penny, but the writers made the ending sweet by proving that she has the best boyfriend in the world: Leonard Hofstadter. By gifting her a car, he is a winner in the audience's hearts. On the other hand, the writers' shortcome was that they made Penny seem like a terrible person who only receives. Funny moments included when Sheldon and Penny reminisce about the old days when Penny's car breaks down and when Leonard tries his best to elevate Penny's spirits before giving her a gift. 

The Amy-Raj plot had some potential, but the writers decided to make each encounter between the two friends extremely awkward (even though Raj is really awkward around people of the opposite sex). Raj's funny moments all come from his social blunders, and they are not truly funny moments. The writers have made Raj's pathetic love life such a joke that even Raj himself is starting to complain about it (recall the cold open of the episode). The final encounter with Emily wasn't funny, but Amy's expressions throughout the scene were exactly what the doctor ordered. Her reactions to Raj's blunders are what saved this plot from collapsing. Unfortunately, although each plot was above average, the writers failed to incorporate them into a coherent half-hour episode...

Grade: C+

Stray Observations:


- "Must keep gorilla hands from killing again!" Dang, the sequel to Serial Apeist sounds really cool.


- Sorry, Sheldon, but Howard's right: you do look like C3PO and Pee Wee Hermin.


- Bernadette: "I said to stop insulting each other. I didn't tell you to take him on a romantic getaway." Howard: "How do I know what you said? Damn you and your noise-cancelling breasts!"


- Penny: "I'm sorry. Is the fact that my life is falling apart interfering with your board game?"


- Even in the flight, Sheldon taps of Howard's shoulder thrice and says his name. I love it when characters are allowed to be themselves.


- When Penny left The Cheesecake Factory, she said, "I quit! See you at The Oscars, bitches!"


- Amy: "He's a sweet, regular guy. As a counterpart, here he is uninvited and visibly sweating."


Categories: The Big Bang Theory

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