The Big Bang Theory season 6 episode 19 review: The Closet Configuration

Review Kaci Ferrell 15 Mar 2013 - 07:25

Simon Helberg, aka Howard Wolowitz, impresses in the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory...

This review contains spoilers.

6.19 The Closet Configuration

In this week's episode of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon finds an unopened letter from Howard's father, opens it, and proceeds to tell everyone what was in it... except Howard himself. What follows is one of the more touching episodes of this show's run, and it's not that surprising to me that it centres on Howard. Simon Helberg is a great comedic actor who never fails to make me laugh, but he's a talented dramatic actor, too, and this isn't the first time the series has shown that. I'm reminded of the episode where Penny told Howard he would end up sad and alone because of the way he treated women, in which Helberg genuinely surprised me with the raw emotion he was able to conjure up. The same talent is on display here, particularly in the climactic scene in which each of his friends tell him one possibility of what was in the letter, without telling him which one was the truth. There's a really nice subtlety in Helberg's performance that sells the emotion without going over the top into comedic (as is often the case when Sheldon has dramatic, character-exploration moments). 

Meanwhile, Sheldon's scene in the closet was hilarious. Him begging to be allowed to stay and organize like a little kid made me laugh, especially when pitted against Leonard's fatherly responses. One of my favorite running gags is the idea that Penny and Leonard are like Sheldon's mom and dad (think back to the scene where Penny took Sheldon to a theme park and Leonard was mad that he wouldn't want his dinner since he'd eaten at the park), so any time that joke comes up, I'm bound to be laughing. 

I also loved Bernadette in this episode. The way they write her relationship with Howard isn't always perfect, but it's one of the most realistic aspects of the show. The way she goes from wanting to respect his privacy, to letting her curiosity get the better of her, to trying to be a supportive figure at Howard's side is the perfect balance between funny and real. 

I don't think this is the best episode of season six, but it is a lovely reminder that Simon Helberg is capable of more than just making us laugh. The fact that we're six seasons in and he's never been nominated for a major award for this show is unfortunate, especially when we get episodes like this that remind us how well-rounded he is.

Read Kaci's review of the previous episode, The Contractual Obligation Implementation, here.

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I'm really glad that this show has not lost its way, ala Community, which i had started out preferring over Big Bang, and now the reverse is the case...

haven't seen this yet, but seems to me like this descending into prime-time drama. I come here for the laughs not the feely-feely stuff. Get that enough in in real life. Why do you have to spoil it all? Oh well atleast the 1st 4 seasons were ok.

By "spoil it all" do you mean why does my review contain spoilers? Because it's a review meant for people who have already seen the episode. There's even a note at the top that says that the review contains spoilers so that someone can stop reading if they don't want to be spoiled.

If you instead mean why did the show take a more dramatic turn this week because that "spoils the show" for you, then I don't know, you'd have to ask the writers of the show, of which I am decidedly not one. And this isn't the first time they've had a semi-dramatic episode. The episode I referenced in which Howard spent most of the episode crying and talking about how he's never been good with women is a prime example and there are also countless examples of dramatic plot lines between Leonard and Penny -- this show has never shied away from mixing drama in with their comedy.

I thought the scene with Sheldon begging to stay was woeful. Badly acted by Jim Parsons and really not funny in the slightest.
Ah well, each to their own I guess.

Okay, the usual preface of 'yes I know it's tv show'. I was disappointed with this episode, and I find that of late they seem to be 'phoning it in'. The premise of this episode - a more than whopping violation of extremely personal privacy by your closest friends and even your spouse - is the kind of thing that in real life leads to divorce and former friends being shunned completely. If I had a close friend or spouse who betrayed me on that level, it would be over - and not now, but right now. His wife betrayed her husband's most personal privacy to her female friends, who in turn told their male counterparts, none of whom had even the slightest right to know - the possible exception of who might have any form of 'right to know' might be a wife or husband, but only in private, and only with mutual consent. They then glossed over this huge transgression by spinning a fairy story as a group to tell the character of Howard, which was meant to make it all better, and on the same night it occurred at that. If they really wanted to get soap-opera-ish, this was potentially a story arc that could have covered several episodes, resulting in the departure of one of the cast. Naturally, in the real world, we would later learn that the departing cast member had signed on to a major movie production and they had to come up with a reason why their character left the show.

On the other hand, the newly introduced Kate Micucci (who I adore) is a still-ongoing story arc, but a story arc that was given to a situation not nearly as significant as what transpired in this episode. It's truly a shame, but this is part of why I feel the show has started a downward spiral, and may be why they appear (solely imho of course) to be phoning it in as I mentioned - but usually, when you have to start adding more and more characters to give the show somewhere to go, it's because it's already run out of steam.

Come on, don't take that personally. It's obvious she meant the writers/producers.

She obviously meant the writers 'spoiled it all' for her, not you. That's the whole context of her paragraph.

Terrific column to a brilliant episode - an amazingly well structured show.

First was the problem of how Sheldon found the offending letter. He didn't just find it, or stumble upon the document while snooping. It came about by Howard exploiting Dr. Cooper's mental illness for personal gain, and Bernadette agreeing as revenge for being insulted. The Wolowitz's brought this on themselves.

The writers took equal care to explain why Sheldon revealed the contents of the letter to, well, everyone...they didn't take the lazy route of not being able to control himself.

And the solution was subtle and insightful. It was a path that only a theoretical physicistian could have dreamed up - that it's possible to know, and not know. Each of the character's version of the note revealed far more about themselves than Howard's father... with the exception of Bernadette's. While the others spun a fantasy of an idealized father they wanted, Mrs. Wolowitz's version told of a passive/aggressive creep. "You're my greatest gift". I guess that could mean Howard is a gift to his father, but it's equally likely that a selfish old man took credit for everything Howard's accomplished. The others told a comforting fairytale. Howard's wife spoke the naked truth.

This is a small thing, but I loved the editing. The series of stories were told using standard sit-com quick cut, until they got to Bernadette, who was given a slow pan. I don't know why that gave her speech more weight, but it sure worked.

The episode was full of insanely romantic moments that weren't tired cliches. After Howard burned the letter, he accidentally sets off the fire alarm, and neither nor his wife were tall enough to turn off the siren. The scene ended with Bernadette offering Howard a boost. THAT is their relationship in a nutshell.

I'm amazed how much these characters have grown in the past six years.

" The premise of this episode - a more than whopping violation of
extremely personal privacy by your closest friends and even your spouse -
is the kind of thing that in real life leads to divorce and former
friends being shunned completely." Yes, this is exactly the sort of situation that can destroy marriages and peer groups. All relationships face these sorts of struggles from time to time. A few weeks earlier, Howard spend $5,000 to build an action figure that looked like himself and Raj. They can either shatter a weak couple, or make the bond that much stronger.

not spoilers, i mean 'spoils the show'. I liked that Leslie Winkle was on ('dumbass') but for some reason she was dropped. The earlier seasons were nicely balanced between drama & comedy, Leonard's anxiety with Penny, Howard swallowing the peanut bar to keep Leonard from his own b'day party- they were really SWEET. Not cringe-worthy.

And yes I see where you could've thought you were 'spoiling' it. I actually decided to wait for the re-runs instead of downloading this episode ;) Save the band-width Dr.Who SO6&7

"I'm reminded of the episode where Penny told Howard he would end up sad
and alone because of the way he treated women, in which Helberg
genuinely surprised me with the raw emotion he was able to conjure up."

^ Can someone tell me which episode this was? I'd really like to watch this scene because I agree, Simon Helberg for me is the one saving grace of this entire season.

I actually thought that, aside from the multiple stories ending, this was an awful episode. I hated how Sheldon told everyone.

is it just me, or is there nothing really happening this season? it is like they are buying time. no development of any kind.

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