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"The Anxiety Optimization"/S8E13

Posted on January 30, 2015 at 9:25 AM

By Dhruv Rao

Shows like The Big Bang Theory have run for a sufficient amount of time for them to assemble followings who would, for example, light up when Penny sang Soft Kitty to Sheldon this week. If the show were to discard its prime qualities during its reinvention over the past few years, the fans would have left and been replaced by the others like how my friends and I left an ex-friend because every other day he would tweak his personality by a certain angle until we couldn't recognize him anymore. I am not exerting that change is a negative aspect of life, but one must not change every aspect of one's self. Change should only be accompanied with need. For instance, Chuck Lorre's re-invention of The Big Bang Theory came after season four, which I always hold as the nadir of the show. Had Lorre not changed the direction of the show, it would have bombed, and the show would have been cancelled. Hence, a new direction was mandatory. 

However, this week, the writers employed a script whose content reminded us of the early stages of the show, specifically when Sheldon would focus all of his attention on work rather than on his social skills. I recall an episode entitled "The Einstein Approximation" which aired roughly five years ago. That episode garnered my attention due to its airing on Einstein's birthday and the fact that the code for the episode (3.14) was the approximation for the irrational constant pi. Another reason why I remember it is that has always been a Big Bang classic episode for me. I always remember the ball pit scene when Leonard chased Sheldon in a children's play area in the middle of the night. Such episodes are deemed classics because not only do they have such moments, but they can also take the credit for giving the show a larger audience. The latter hasn't been applicable for about 3 years now, as the show is still TV's Number One Comedy. 

However, that doesn't imply that the current batch of episodes is any less than the inital ones. Tonight's episode is another one that side-steps the couple issues, as the fans had gotten a little suffocated with all the couple plots over the past two to three seasons. I found it refreshing to view Sheldon asking everyone to irritate him and try to prove him wrong, and that's why I loved tonight's A-plot. The premise was Sheldon's inability to come up with a theory for proton displacement, and the rest of the episode revolved around how efficiently he could work. That does remind us of the previous seasons of the show, but alas there are less scientific facts thrown out there than before. The plot's conclusion with Leonard and Penny looking happily at Sheldon was also reminiscent of the final scene in "The Spaghetti Catalyst". These little throwbacks are what the show had always been missing, so I enjoyed it. Furthermore, Sheldon's look with that cap on his head was just down-right funny, even when he blew off Amy's romantic dinner. 

The B-plot this week was another one that we haven't really seen much of, as Raj's dating life had just started to pick up in season six, when he finally lost his selective mutism. Howard's game Emily or Cinammon? was one with plenty of humor in it, as the relationship Raj had with the dog resembled the relationship he had with Howard until the latter met Bernadette. (Speaking of her, she needs more screen time, writers!) The various questions did provide comedy in an already saturated episode, which was great. Another thing that I have noticed about the show is how the laughing track, along with the comedy, is being used more as punctuation and less as a wild eruption of laughs. The various reactions brought about the studio audeince feel more natural. So, kudos to the writers! Also, thank you for an episode that provides the viewer with a plethora of the show's finest aspects...

Grade: A

Stray Observations:

- The various "lies" that Leonard and Penny tell Sheldon at the start of the episode are worth a mention. I laughed louder when Leonard quickly switched clauses when Sheldon removed his noise-cancelling headphones. 

- Howard: "Emily, or Cinammon? 'Check it out! I got us matching sweaters!'"Leonard: "We all got the Christmas card: Cinammon."

- Sheldon's bipolar reactions to his stress levels were hilarious!

- Penny: "Clearly you haven't seen him on the beach with his metal detector." Kaley Cuoco's method of delivering lines has never ceased to amaze me. 

- Sheldon: "Taylor was right! Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate!" 

- I wonder why Emily found a strand of dog hair in Raj's mouth?


Categories: The Big Bang Theory

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