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"The Relationship Diremption"/S7E20

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 8:40 AM

By Dhruv Rao


The quality of some of the episodes of this season has been compromised. You could see that for the last few episodes, the writers' mark had often missed by a few dialogues, a few emotions, or the reactions of the studio audience. However, today, the writers seemed to fail in one of their main purposes: to generate comedy. It's a sad day when a sitcom reverts to puerile methods of joke-telling instead of sticking with the sophisticated humor that not only generates a humanely reaction from the studio audience, but also makes the viewers feel like the writers have done their homework.


"Full House" was a perfect example of a show whose humor was generated through juvenile methods; however, the studio audience knew how to control itself, and the comedy generated suited the characters and the viewers (who were mainly under the famous 18-54 age group the Nielson ratings often describe). Another example of a sitcom with a good laugh track was How I Met Your Mother (I can't believe it has already become a "was" show. I'm so late on my finale recap!), whose creaters and directors had a way with inserting the pre-recorded track into an episode. The amplitude, the length, the tone of the laughter were all altered, but in accordance to the scene and its feelings. I recall Oliver Sava stating that "a laugh track is like punctuation." He was spot-on.


So, what was this episode about? A: Moving on and making peace with your past. The more important of the two plots was that concerning Sheldon's "breakup" with Physics. I must commend the writers for their plot choices this season as they have really brought out long-awaited character development. The question about the characters' careers has never been a primary problem for the last six seasons, because they were only the butt of Sheldon's condescending jokes, which have also been reduced by a significant amount. So, when Sheldon's turn to question his career came (right after Penny's "indecision" last episode), the writers tried to hold it all together, but they couldn't. They simply gave the analogy of Sheldon's termination with Theoretical Physics as a "breakup". Now, I don't know what chick-flicks the writers have been watching recently, but that must have surely inspired this story. I mean, Sheldon's story this week is more of a homage to all the woman who follow Cosmopolitan magazine's advice. The new haircut, the drinking, the whining, and the talks with girls are all part of this arc. And let's not forget the night Sheldon did the "unthinkable": he got hungover and slept shirtless with a Geology book. The analogy seems very abvious at this point, and the writer's attempt seems to become even more audacious. Yet, success have they not achieved. The nadir of the episode was when Sheldon's messages to Stephen Hawking were revealed: another frivolous attempt at manufacturing laughs, which the studio audience fakes as a "victory."


Raj's plot is the better half of the episode, where he is constantly mocked for his single status. I have to insert here that I once again salute the writers for putting Raj's drinking habit out of the way after six years and getting him out into the dating game. Today was sort of his game's third round. In the first round, he embarrassed himself before Emily. Then, he got to go out for dinner with her and got her to think that he was a sweet guy. Finally, here's the part we've been waiting for: Emily socializing with the rest of the group. The dinner backdrop was the basis of much speculation as to what Howard must have done to turn his cheeks red. The dinner's progress moves on even after Howard's joke was cracked, thus showing how one unsubstantial past event cannot ruin your life. Over here, Howard is faced by the same dilemma that Sheldon was in the A-plot: he needs to make peace with the past, shake hands, and then finally walk away. It really was fun to see Emily cracking jokes at which Bernadette also laughed, but the story's resolution was actually something I enjoyed: Howard and Sheldon got to talk their problems out. It seems like their friendship of over a decade might be on the positive rail, and once again I must laud the writers for their attempts, whether successful or failed, at developing the characters.


It seems as though the writers are facing a distraction at the office which is creating many tiny errors that have accumulated into episodes like these. This episode isn't bad because of its use of drama (like "The Friendship Turbulence"), but it's actually a little bit too ostentatious at its attempt to make us laugh. Furthermore, the writers really need to fix their distribution of screen time to each character, because I don't think it's fair to consider Melissa and Mayim as secondary characters after their hardwork of almost four years now...

Grade: B-

Stray Observations:

- Sheldon: "Am I wasting my life on a theory that cannot be proven?" Howard: "Well, maybe , but how great is Game of Thrones?"

- Leonard: "Women! Who knows what will set them off!" (Perfect example of Leonard's newly developed condescending tone.)

- Raj: "No jokes on how close I am with my dog. Or the truth on how close I am with my dog."

- Sheldon's newly-found obsession with comsos is the reason for dialogues like: "Geology is the Kardashians of science."

- Howard "Clogzilla" Wolowitz. What a great name!

- To be frank, I actually gagged over Sheldon's impression of Stephen Hawking: "Beep Bop Bop Beep...!"

Categories: The Big Bang Theory

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