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"The Junior Professor Solution"/S8E2

Posted on September 29, 2014 at 2:10 PM

By Dhruv Rao

Shows that have run a sufficient number of years often leave a legacy behind them. For comedy-dramas like HIMYM or even Grey's Anatomy, the fans remember a few episodes more than other because not only do these episodes stand out, but they also change the course of the series. The Big Bang Theory doesn't have episodes like that. TBBT is a traditional sitcom in that its main remembrance comes in certain character traits like Penny's alcoholism. Having a legacy is very advantageous as it manages a fan base that makes the show so popular. However, this very legacy can be the reason why a show can experience a downfall, such as when HIMYM's finale failed to show the fairytale ending many fans anticipated for. This caused an outrage in regard to the previous nine years of material which the fans cherished. Now that you've understood that concept, it's time for me to express my contempt for the eighth season of The Big Bang far.

I think it's because of the last three seasons of brilliant work that I had high hopes for this season of The Big Bang Theory. Seasons 5 through 7 were some of the most advancing years of the series (this is not something I haven't stated before) as they expanded the show's horizons, especially in the career department, an area where many shows lag. The show that I often refer to is How I Met Your Mother, and that's because it contained everything that a sitcom requires in order for it to have a substantial legacy: a breakout character, running gags, a mix between comedy and drama, variation in narration, a controlled laugh in the background, continuity, etc. If you observe closely, The Big Bang Theory checks off only a few items on its list, because Chuck Lorre's shows often don't include strong relations in between the seasons which lead to many unresolved questions regarding the fate of a character or even a continuation of a plotline. Ever since season six, we've been wondering about that tenure position the guys applied for. This episode vaguely answers that question. I say vaguely because the word "tenure" is never used, and Sheldon becoming a professor isn't something new or even refreshing. This episode was simply getting Sheldon's career crisis resolved from last season. But since it was in a rush, the resolution was poorly executed, what was once the central topic of season seven is merely a side-stepped issue in this episode. The main focus of the episode was Sheldon becoming a professor, no one taking a class, and a lesson which was not learned. Sheldon was supposed to be a little graceful towards Howard tonight, but that wasn't the case.

Sheldon used methods to try and outsmart Howard, to which the latter responded by being a horrible student. The comedy in watching Howard singing along to DJ Khaled was genuine, and no one can deny that. (It was the equivalent of Leonard singing along to The Black Eyed Peas). However, in summation, the A-plot led to no conclusion. Is Howard still taking the class? Is Sheldon going to stop his ignorant ways? We didn't get any answers to two of these big picture questions in the episode. And that set me off. How can you simply resolve an episode by leaving out a key element? (How the tension was resolved). That put me off and made me dislike a rather hilarious scene of the guys being their-nerdy-selves in the final scene. However, I must say that I did laugh at Jim Parsons' expressions when the spitball entered and when it left his throat.

The subplot this week is more of the funnier, quirkier style with Amy's inferiority complex coming in with full stride. It seems evident that she has always wanted to be the popular, central girl in any posse, but it obviously never happened, and this episode told us exactly why: Amy is super awkward when she becomes the popular girl. I mean, her constant two-facedness in this episode is funny because it’s temporary: Amy's sudden change in character is what caught me this week. Furthermore, her change in dialect towards the end of the episode was a classic TBBT funny moment, especially when she called Penny and Bernadette "girlfriend!" and "gurl”. But one thing didn't: she ran down the stairs hastily to make sure that her popular look be maintained. Mayim's acting as Amy has really improved over the years, to the point where I feel that Amy needs to steal some attention from Sheldon. (Take note, Bill, Chuck and Steve!)

There are always episodes with mixed reactions (not polarized like HIMYM's finale). The first two episodes of this season have that ring to them. It just feels like the writers can't come up with a plotline that can sustain the whole episode, and it really upsets me that this season, which is the successor of three brilliant ones, is off to a bad start. I know I mention season 4 a lot, but please do not repeat that Chuck! I really don't want another season that I will refer to in the future as "the nadir of the show"...


Grade: C+

Stray Observations:

- Sheldon: "Your solution is to promote me and pay me more money, so that I can impart my knowledge to the next generation if scientists? You people are sick!"

- Amy (to the starfish cells): "You like that, don't you? That's right, say my name."

- Amy (to Sheldon): "You better watch that attitude. You're dating the popular girl now!"

- I knew the answer to one of the hard questions Howard asked Sheldon: "How do you prevent eddy currents in a transformer?" Neat!

- Sheldon: "Thank Goodness! I got it! Now I can quit checking my stool!"

- Why Kaley Cuoco is the queen at delivering comic dialogues: "Headaches, dizziness and nausea. Those are also the side-effects of a seventy-five year old man with an erection climb on top of you."

Categories: The Big Bang Theory

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