The Big Bang Theory season 6 episode 3 review: The Higgs Boson Observation

Review Kaci Ferrell 12 Oct 2012 - 08:05

Not much happens in this week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, but is that actually a good thing? Here's Kaci's review...

This review contains spoilers.

6.3 The Higgs Boson Observation

One of the things that I originally found so different about The Big Bang Theory in its earliest seasons was that - and I struggle here with a way to phrase this that sounds complimentary (as I intend it) rather than derogatory - several of its episodes didn't really have much in the way of a plot. Compare this sitcom to other comedies like Friends or Scrubs, where each episode had its own distinct story to tell with a beginning, middle, and end. Oftentimes, The Big Bang Theory doesn't have that, and sometimes, it doesn't even need it - it just does what it does best, which is to say: let its talented cast be funny for twenty-two minutes and call it a show. 

The show did that quite well in its early seasons, though it's turned plottier as time has gone on. This week's episode was a return to the former, but I'm not sure it worked in its favour. 

Nothing much happened in this episode other than the introduction of a new character named Alex, a grad student whom Sheldon has hired to go through all his old journals to see if anything he wrote while younger would now be a notable scientific accomplishment. (This, he reasons, worked for Peter Higgs with the recent success of the Higgs boson. While we're on the topic, it struck me as odd that Sheldon didn't mention any of the other scientists involved in predicting the Higgs; certainly they are often overlooked by the public, but would a stickler for accuracy involved in the physics community not insist on giving credit where it is due?) 

Amy is initially bothered when finding that Sheldon's assistant is, in fact, a woman, and is jealous for all of ten minutes until she sees Alex and Leonard having a flirty conversation and realizes that she is not the one who should be worried. 

There's not much I could say to add to the concerns I voiced last week about Penny's characterization, but this week certainly compounded them. After deciding (then failing) to break up with Leonard last week, Penny becomes jealous upon seeing him with Alex and promptly drags him off to have sex. All of which would be valid, if we had any sort of inclination of what is going on in her head (or heart). The way it's written, it just makes her seem shallow and vapid. 

Meanwhile, up in space, Howard is basically falling apart at the seams after being in space for so long, only to find that his ride back to earth has been delayed for at least another week. And bless Simon Helberg, really, who is the unsung hero of this show. He has been asked to do increasingly absurd things in the name of comedy since the first episode and he manages to pull them off every single time in a way that makes me genuinely believe that this guy is unaware of his own strangeness. This episode was no different; from his begging to watch pencils being dropped to remind him of what gravity is like, to his code words, even to his doped-up removal of his pants at the end, Helberg manages to pull all of these things off without making me go, "No, you've gone past the point that I can believe this guy exists." 

All in all, an okay episode, but far from the funniest. Not much happened, but maybe that's alright. This show was at its best when it didn't try for plot, so this could be signalling a return to form in the next few episodes. It's too soon to say.

Read Kaci's review of last week's episode, The Decoupling Fluctuation, here.

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