Did you remember that tonight’s episode was shifted to 9 p.m.? The fall out from Charlie Sheen being Charlie Sheen has made this a strange necessity shift for CBS. They’ve only got two episodes of Two and a Half Men left and four weeks of May sweeps. The show did its best to get out the word of the time shift. Jim Parsons popped up on my local CBS affiliate’s noon news. He didn’t talk about how he’s signed up to be in “The Big Year” with Steve Martin, Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Joel McHale. It’s a comedy about bird watching. Things are going well for Parsons since he also won’t be worried about The Big Bang Theory being considered a bubble show with a make or break sweeps rating. The show is a hit with a blast of syndication cash around the corner. The only thing that can derail this freight train of success is Ted McGinley playing Sheldon’s real father next season.
“The Spaghetti Catalyst” brings us back to the break up of Leonard and Penny hastened by the devious Wil Wheaton.The episode opens in the lobby with Penny opening her mail. They canceled her Visa, but she’s excited at a new MasterCard. Sheldon steps through the front door and stops. He’s unsure what to do with Penny since she’s no longer having coitus with Leonard. She tells him they’re still friends and he has to stop using the word “coitus.” He’s happy they are still friends since he’d invested a lot of time into the project. Sheldon relates how Leonard spends most of his time looking at pictures of her and sniffing her old pillow. He notices she has spaghetti sauce in her grocery bag. He invites himself over and promises to put bring cut up hotdogs. It’s his mother’s idea of an Italian treat.
Sheldon steps into his living room. When the subject of Penny comes up, Leonard swears he’s over even through he’s been working on the mind eraser from Men In Black. Howard explains Shleldon has to be on either Team Penny or Team Leonard. Sheldon will be on whatever team picks last. That’s how it’s always been. He lies to Leonard that his dinner plans involve eating Chinese takeout with the guys. He does ask if they still have hotdogs in the fridge. He shows his support for Team Leonard by putting a big L on his forehead. Didn’t Glee copyright that move?
It’s good to see that Leonard has accepted the break up without blaming the entire thing on Wil Wheaton. It’s not like the Star Trek stud beamed Penny up to his bachelor pad. Sheldon does come off properly as a guy stuck in the middle of a bust up. The choosing of sides is always important at these times, however most of the time, you don’t get to choose. The separated parties go through an unannounced friendship draft. You may think you were tight with the girl, but if she cut you off if her memory has you and him sharing a pitcher of beer. Life isn’t as simple as those Twilight teens with their Team Wolfie and Team Dracupout t-shirts.
The guys continue to eat their takeout. Raj wants to know if Howard will go to hell for eating sweet and sour pork. He’ll only suffer from acid reflux. Leonard asks what Raj is doing that night. His pal gets upset since he’s only good enough to pal around with now that he hasn’t a woman. Sheldon sneaks to the fridge and shoves a package of hotdogs in his pants. He comes up with the fake excuse of an after dinner walk to sneak over to Penny’s place. Howard joins him. Raj admits he’s missed being with Leonard.
In the lobby Howard holds the door open and forces Sheldon to go outside. On the sidewalk, he smells hotdogs. Sheldon suggests it’s from a brain tumor. When Howard scoots off, a rottweiler stares and growls at Sheldon. He comes after him for the hotdogs. Sheldon bangs on Penny’s door. He survived the dog, but only cause he sacrificed all but one hotdog.
Raj confesses he hasn’t had sex in a year to Leonard. This isn’t a proposition. Raj wants Leonard to be his wingman so he doesn’t look like a loser. But there’s no going out. He asks about using the computer to download Asian smut. Leonard insists his pal will find that perfect woman and she’ll eventually destroy his heart. Raj would rather focus on how he’ll get laid before she crushes his dreams.
Sheldon eats his spaghetti with Penny. She wonders if Leonard minds if he came over. Once more Sheldon shares too much information. She feels terrible when being told how much her ex-geek cried. They switch the subject to how his shoes aren’t good for running. He’s secretly gotten heartburn.
Strange to think at this point Howard is the only one of the foursome with a girlfriend. Who could have imagined that? The dinner with Penny is played right. Early in the season there was a strange bond between the duo. But this would not be the right moment for anything to happen between them. This is not the time for experiments with tequila. Sheldon is rightly just looking for a certain normalcy in his universe. Shame they didn’t have Penny brag about the secret ingredient of oregano in the sauce since that would reference the greatest Andy Griffith Show episode.
Raj surfs for dirtiness on a laptop. He ponders if Martha Stewart got naked with a bunch of Asians. Leonard thinks it’s not real even if prison might have changed the homemaking guru. Sheldon wanders into the room and lies about his walk. Nobody seems to care since Raj has found dirty pictures of Oprah.
Sheldon wakes up Leonard in the middle of the night. He confesses that he’s been seeing Penny behind his back. Leonard wants a definition of “seeing.” He relates the spaghetti tale. For an excuse for the subterfuge, Sheldon gives a clinical definition of “Bros before Hos.” Leonard doesn’t care if he sees his ex-lover. After this is settled, Sheldon tells the tale of how he lost his hotdogs.
There are people who would still go nuts and punch you out for having a nice dinner with their old lover. Thankfully this is a comedy and not a prime time soap opera.
Down in the laundry room, Leonard folks when Penny walks in. She offers to come back, but they agree to be adult. Penny says Leonard’s mom wants her to take him shopping for sheets. The two discuss the genius as if he’s their joint custody child including a trip to Disneyland.
Howard, Raj and Leonard are in the apartment playing a board game. Penny returns with Sheldon. He’s overloaded with Disney souvenirs. It really is a child exchange moment as she and Leonard argue about how late she kept Sheldon out. Raj and Howard see this as pretty weird.
Sheldon sleeps with his mouse ears on. Penny and Leonard stand in the doorway and stare in on him like sentimental parents. She thinks they can be friends. He proposes friends that have sex. She dismisses that idea. He jokes that the suggestion was merely friends goofing around. This makes the sleeping Sheldon give a nightmare moan about Goofy coming after him.
“The Spaghetti Catalyst” is a calming and simple episode after the break up fireworks from “The Wheaton Recurrance.” The childish nature of Sheldon is explored within the confines of the estranged couple. The guy looks natural when decked out in Disney gear. They didn’t make us see Leonard crying like a maniac. Nothing was overplayed for comic value so that the end visual of the couple watching the sleeping Sheldon is heartwarming. Next week the show is back to 9:30 p.m with a Two and a Half Men episode at 9 p.m. Why must CBS confuse us during Sweeps? That’s more dangerous than a bowl of Penny’s spaghetti.
Tags: Disney, Jim Parsons, Penny, Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory