The Big Bang Theory – Episode 3-18 Review

This is the iffy part of the TV season where it’s hard to know if an original episode is airing. CBS is stretching out the 23 episodes to last until May sweeps. It’s a Russian Roulette as to whether you’re going to watch a repeat at this point. Although since the show has gained such a large audience over the past year, there’s probably plenty of folks who don’t think they’re repeat episodes. Luckily tonight’s the only new episode for a four week period.

Here’s an interesting piece of Bang Trivia. Did you know that Simon Helberg’s dad was the original Gopher on The Love Boat? Sandy Helberg was cast on The Love Boat movie of the week that featured Ted Hamilton as the captain and Dick Van Patten as Doc. Strange to think that his son’s Howard character is the Gopher of the geeks.

“The Pants Alternative” starts in the lab’s lunchroom with Sheldon, Howard and Raj dining. Sheldon brings up the touchy subject of why wasn’t William Shatner in the new Star Trek movie. He seems shocked that the brave captain didn’t get to face off with the new Kirk. Leonard arrives with the news that they named the winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Science. Sheldon scoffs the award as something always given out to the losers. Leonard is happy that he thinks so “highly” of the award since Sheldon’s won it. Sheldon is astonished at the honor. He runs off to conduct an interview with himself since no other reporter can do him justice. The guys are mortified at the prize since it give William Shatner of theoretical physicals an ego boost.

Is this a subtle suck up to get William Shatner to cameo in an upcoming episode? Maybe they’ll have him and Nimoy reunite for the season finale? Why not spread that rumor? This moment represents a truism that all awards are bogus until you win one. You’d be amazed how many Oscar winners silently have contempt for the process until they have that golden man sitting on their mantle. Awards seem to turn any action or job into a competition whether it be Real Estate King or Mack of the Year. No matter how dumb and worthless the award, people get excited when they win it. Even Sandra Bullock turned up to accept her Razzie for worst actress. Although that might have been in order to have a non-lethal object to fling at her cheating husband, Jesse James. An Oscar trophy can kill a philander with a single blow.

The guys sit around the apartment watching TV while wearing 3-D glasses except for Raj. The trio are amazed at how things are coming at them from the screen. Raj is displeased at being left out of the fun. But it’s his fault for not buying a Slurpee and getting free glasses. The phone rings with more good news for Sheldon. It’s the chancellor. Sheldon gets told that he must give a speech to accept the award. If he doesn’t talk, he’ll forfeit the award. He hangs up and announces he won’t be the winner. He won’t give a speech. Howard reminds him that he gives speeches all the time. Sheldon’s problem is shutting up around people. Turns out that Sheldon doesn’t have a problem talking to small groups. It’s large crowds that scare him. He fears being trampled to death by 36 adults or 70 kids. Penny brings him cheesecake from work to celebrate. What’s there to celebrate since he plans on refusing like George C. Scott’s Oscar. Penny bolsters him up with how she was once scared in high school, but overcame her fears to become a member of the Corn Queen’s Court. Sheldon will keep her talk in mind if he’s nominated for the Hillbilly’s Peace Prize. Sheldon relates his first panic attack when he was to give the valedictorian speech in college. He falls down to the floor in shock. It’s come back to him.

Sheldon comes up the stairs while talking to his mom. She will pray for him and wants him to know the lyrics to “Jesus Take the Wheel.” He opens the door and discovers the gang sitting around the apartment like the pivotal moment on Intervention. His friends want to help him overcome his terror and accept the award. He doubts they can since he hasn’t found a solution and he’s smarter than them put together. Leonard offers to be his Sheldon’s team like Professor Xavier and his X-Men. This excites Sheldon. Penny asks if she’s seen X-Men. Leonard reminds her that she did and she liked it. She mentions how she says a lot of things. Sheldon wants to know what are their powers to help him. Penny shall take him shopping for a new suit. Leonard will analyze him to get to the root of his anxiety. His qualifications rest on a lifetime of therapy after his mother accused him of breast feeding codependently. Raj whispers to Howard a message that only gets relayed as “some sort of meditation crap.” What is Howard’s talent that will dazzle Sheldon? Howard promises to pretend that he gives a crap about Sheldon’s problem. He’ll give it 24-7. Sheldon is impressed by the pretense. Sheldon will accept them, but they’ll be his “C-Men.” Howard doesn’t think this is a good title.

It doesn’t sound so dirty when Sheldon says, “C-Men.” Yet when Howard repeats it, you almost can hear the argument between the producers and the network censor. It is all in the character as how you can pull off the smutty language. At first the idea of Sheldon having a fear of public speaking looked like we were going to get the usual sitcom plotline. But thankfully they put it into a proper context that fits Sheldon – fear of a confederacy of dunces charging the stage to attack his genius with golf clubs.

In Raj’s apartment, Sheldon receives a briefing about using meditation to overcome things. He doesn’t think this is that great of an idea since Raj can’t talk to women. But meditation has allowed him to stay near females without losing bladder control. Sheldon won’t close his eyes since his sister used to punch him at such moments. When asked to focus on the one place he feels alone, it turns into a riff about Sheldon’s Sim-City creation of “Sheldonopolis.” It gets weird with all the Sheldon names of the landmarks and citizens. Raj gets frustrated. Things get worse when the Godzilla attacks Sheldonopolis. Raj runs out of the room after the descriptions of simulated horror. Sheldon opens his eyes and dismisses meditation as hokum.

Penny checks out the suit racks with Sheldon. He doesn’t get the clothes make the man. He doesn’t like the price of a suit that only has one color. She tells him to pick out suits he likes. It turns into a freakish fashion show with a checkerboard pimp suit, a Porter Waggoner-esque faux-Nudie suit and a white tux with tails. She begs him to try on the black suit although he knows it will suffer compared to his early choices. Sheldon emerges looking cool with a black shirt under the suit. He thinks he looks like a clown.

At the apartment Leonard begins the therapy session with Sheldon. He isn’t happy with how his friend explores his subconscious since he sounds like the deli lady at Ralph’s. Sheldon relates that he had a dream that he was a giant, but everything around his was to scale. He knew he was a giant cause he wore Size Million pants. The session gets flipped as Sheldon gets Leonard to talk about his trauma from his mom getting him to return a science prize when he was 8. The boy has mom issues. Leonard cries and admits to bedwetting. Sheldon thanks his roommate for curing him since if a damaged Leonard can get out of bed every morning, he should have no problem with an awards ceremony.

In the ballroom, Leonard gives the introduction to Sheldon at the ceremony. He reads a letter from Sheldon’s mom that triggers his own issues with mom and the science fair. He’s losing it. Sheldon gets dizzy and nervous. Raj tells him to not worry since he’s surrounded by C-Men. Penny offers him her wine. He downs it, but swears it’s not working. She gives him another. The booze kicks in as Sheldon bounds onto the stage with a bottle of wine in hand. The formerly Vulcan has turned into a Vegas comic as he takes the mic and rocks the crowd with lines Don Rickles would use if he went to MIT. We get bazingas to punch up the jokes about neutrons and chickens and bars. “I kid the geologists of course, but only because I have no respect for the field,” he declares. He sings the periodic chart and wants the crowd to join in.

This moment is like last week’s Rock and Roll of Fame Induction Ceremony when Iggy Pop headed into the audience to get the crowd singing along to “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” The shirtless Iggy bounded into the tuxedoed crowd of alleged rock fans only to be greeted with shock and fear. He might as well have been playing for an Insurance Council banquet. See the uptightness here. Sheldon was Iggy-esque as he dared to not merely read a prepared text and pause for kind applause at certain moments. Luckily for Iggy, at least a few brave souls came on stage to dance with him including an old lady in a gold dress and fur. Poor Sheldon’s only stage pal was his bottle of wine.

Back at the apartment Leonard pours Penny coffee. A slow moving Sheldon emerges from his room. He’s wearing his suit except for the pants. He asks them what happened to his pants. Leonard suggest checking Youtube – the window is already up and all he has to do is hit play. They’re posted video of his lecture under the title “Physicist melts down.” At the ceremony he decided to illustrate how you could remove your pants using the 4th dimension. Sheldon thinks it couldn’t get any worse. Leonard tells him to wait a minutes. The video has Sheldon promising to show the astrologists the dark side of the moon and Uranus.

Thus Sheldon was like Iggy on stage with removing a major piece of clothing to take his performance to the next level. “The Pants Alternative” was a punk episode since it didn’t just repeat the “imagine the crowd in their underwear” cliche. Sheldon went to the next level and forced the audience to see him in his underwear. Although he did it off the subconscious with the help of booze. After the last few weeks being marked by major guest stars, it’s nice to see The Bang focus on the main characters. Every one got their big supporting moment with Sheldon. Leonard wasn’t allowed to be too snide. It was brought the brainy insanity in the midst of the rerun season. The next new episode will be epic since it has the title “Wheaton Recurrence.” Wil is back! However we’re going to be forced to wait until April 12.

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