The Big Bang Theory season 6 episode 9 review: The Parking Spot Escalation

Review Kaci Ferrell 30 Nov 2012 - 08:39

Kaci finds it hard to believe this week's episode isn't a repeat. Here's her unimpressed review...

This review contains spoilers.

6.9 The Parking Spot Escalation

When I was in film school, we learned that every sitcom has a formula. All the characters are archetypes and the jokes arise from the combination of those archetypal personalities. If all of this sounds cynical, then let me add that movies have a formula, too, although it's often called "structure" because that sounds nicer. Virtually all mainstream films follow that three-act structure, to the point that if you've studied the structure enough, it becomes very hard for you to ever be truly surprised by the twists and turns of a film. 

But the un-cynical side is this: a lot of great movies — truly, deeply, actually astounding films that change the way we look at the medium — happen within that structure. By the same token, a lot of genuinely hilarious and inventive comedies happen within the sitcom formula. The much-beloved Arrested Development is virtually a masterclass in exploiting that formula and arriving at brilliance. In its best moments, The Big Bang Theory achieves...well, not brilliance, but true greatness despite relying on that formula, too. 

But if you've ever watched a comedy and thought to yourself, "Gee, this seems rote and formulaic and all these episodes follow the same pattern," then you are not wrong. 

I found myself convinced that this episode of The Big Bang Theory was a re-run and it was only after a trip to Wikipedia confirmed to me that it was a new episode that I genuinely believed it. I had deja vu through the entire episode and I couldn't laugh at any of the jokes because it just seemed so...well, formulaic.

Even if you set aside all the times that Howard and Sheldon have been at odds, the plot of this episode is hugely reminiscent of the episode in which Raj wanted a desk in the office he shared with Sheldon, Sheldon said no, and then a war ensued. Only this time, it involved nudity instead of snakes and flammable gasses 

After Penny's confession of love in the last episode, we needed to be spending time on the ramifications of that, and instead we got the same old been-there, done-that formula that, while it results in jokes, doesn't actually result in being funny. 

There's nothing inherently wrong with the sitcom formula. There's a reason it's so well-established; it works. The problem arises when the writers stop being inventive within that framework and instead fall back on the same ideas they've done dozens of times before. 

When I'm getting deja vu over a brand new episode, we have a real problem, The Big Bang Theory writers. It's time to go back to the drawing board and find a way to make the formula work for you, rather than you working for it.

Read Kaci's review of the previous episode, The 43 Peculiarity, here.

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Ditto. I agree. Have they changed writers or something cause this show is on the slide down this season.

I agree. I felt like they got a 2.5 men script, all that stuff about amy's waxing and sheldon seeing bandaids....that's not bbt material.

Nonsense...this episode was brilliant. Sheldon's being eaten alive with jealousy over the fact that Howard had gone to space, and can't admit it. Howard is learning that having a glamorous accomplishment is not without its downside. The Amy/Bernadette catfight is endlessly fun.

Agree completely. The episode was boring.

On top of that it was nasty. Sheldon being a jerk isn't funny. Bernadette keying Amy's car isn't funny.

Let's not also forget the episode where Penny is "banished" by Sheldon, also an all-out war. I enjoyed the Sheldon/Howard war, but the Bernadette/Amy bit was much more entertaining - I love Bernie's dark side.

Can't you be positive about anything?

Well, where is Sheldon in the current season? A clown has replaced him. The other guys either have no say or say trivia comments...I really have no idea where the naked-character thing came from. We had howard taking his shirt off out of the blue and now Howard sitting naked on Sheldon's spot. Gross is not a word to describe all of it. It looks like people who disagree with Kaci Ferrell haven't seen the previous seasons. It really gives the motts watching it nowadays...

I live in the UK so this episode hasn't been shown yet, however, I think the series has gone down from past, they need to concentrate slightly more on Leonard and Penny's relationship, which took an interesting turn in episode 8 when she confessed her love for him. Having said that for me only the first episode was completely rubbish, and I'm still an avid viewer, and massive fan of the show!

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