Sadly, the ride continues for ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on its final season, this week turning in an episode which can be called mediocre at best, whose main focus is on one of the dullest aspects of the series, Penny’s career. Where once she was an aspiring actress whose humdrum day- job as a waitress in-between acting gigs was a gold-mine for comedy, her later seasons career as a pharmaceutical sales rep has not left the writers, nor Kaley Cuoco, much to work with.
The main story for this week’s episode finds Penny and Bernadette heading down to San Diego for a Pharmaceutical Convention to push Bernie’s latest drug, the one that earlier this season she asked Penny to head up sales on. Not surprisingly, the two stars of the show are both great at selling the drug and pushing their teams to success at the convention, and Penny is recruited by a rival drug company rep that Bernie despises, causing a rift between the friends, especially when Penny reveals she does not feel appreciated at her current work (stuff of real comedy here). Eventually, Bernie interrupts Penny’s casual interview with the Rep and speaks about how great an employee and worker Penny is, which is enough to convince Penny to stick with Bernie’s company.
Meanwhile, back in LA, Howard invites the gang over for some board games and for help babysitting his kids while Bernadette is away. Sheldon initially says no, claiming he does not want to be around sticky children, but oddly shows up anyway with Amy in tow, with a new book about doing science experiments with children, which he is very excited about, and even manages to convince Howard to allow him to do. Raj figures out that Amy is playing the long con to trick Sheldon into liking kids and planted that book, and she reminds him not to bet against her getting Sheldon to do what she wants as she did get him to fall in love with her and eventually marry her, not to mention have sex with her.
Also, amidst the experiments on the kids, Leonard realizes the whole thing seems very familiar, and it dawns on him that his mother did the same thing to him for his entire childhood. He eventually calls her to confirm his suspicions, and she admits that she always found him fascinating and, in a somewhat tender moment, reveals that she really enjoyed their time together when she was doing those experiments. When he asks when the experimenting ended, she states that they have not yet and hangs up the phone, leaving Leonard very confused.
In the episode close, as Sheldon and Amy prepare for bed, he reveals that he wants to have an enormous number of kids, his caveat being that they need to be divisible by the number 3, which alarms Amy somewhat though Sheldon points out that the numbers are easy for frogs. Luckily for Amy, Sheldon says he will be happy with whatever they end up with as Amy has always been good enough for him.
QUOTES OF THE NIGHT:
LEONARD: (recognizing the experiments) This is my entire childhood! It’s like word for word!
LEONARD: (putting pieces together) On my god at sleep-away camp my cabin was called “Control Group!”
RAJ: So you really think you can trick Sheldon into liking babies?
AMY: I slept with him. I married him. You really want to bet against me?
LEONARD: Was my whole childhood one big experiment?
BEVERLY: Of course not dear, it was thousands of small experiments.
This was an odd episode in a lot of ways because while it did not deliver many laughs at all, it did not feel as bad as other episodes this season. I still enjoyed the story for the rest of the gang in LA, and liked the momentum of the Amy/ Sheldon seasonal plotline, as I think we all knew the subject of kids was going to come up soon. The whole convention story with Bernie and Penny seemed like they were desperate for something for Penny to do, some story-line to keep her occupied this season, and it is a shame that they have to waste Bernadette’s character on Penny’s stories this way. They just have not known what to do with Penny ever since she married Leonard and got a career, clearly having forgotten that the best comedy comes from conflict and struggle and having her as beautiful, happily married woman with a good career just leaves very little struggle for her comedically. There’s a reason the nerdy, socially awkward men who struggled all their lives to find dates have always been funny on the show.
With only 7 episodes left, I’m guessing the show is going to continue to ping-pong between solid episodes and mediocre ones like this, but at least someone over there is trying. Here’s hoping next week is one of the good ones.