The Big Bang Theory season 7 episode 13 review: The Occupation Recalibration

Review Juliette Harrisson 10 Jan 2014 - 16:58

Bringing the supporting cast centre-stage works wonders for the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory...

This review contains spoilers.

7.13 The Occupation Recalibration

I was pretty harsh on The Big Bang Theory last week. I’m happy to say this week’s outing was much stronger and seems to be moving the show out of the cycle it appeared to have got stuck in last episode – with one glaring exception that may or may not be resolved in the weeks to come.

The two B plots of this episode (it’s hard to say which was more slight) were structured according to the successful formula the show has adopted for much of this season – one old and generally fruitful pairing (Howard and Raj, with the addition of Amy) and one fresh, new pairing. Bernadette and Stuart is a great idea, purely on the basis that this particular combination of characters is so new there’s scope for new jokes and new stories. The specific plot they’re given is very thin, and not especially hilarious, but it’s amusing enough (especially the disconnect between Bernadette’s angry tone and her words in her final scene, something Melissa Rauch always does well) and it’s rather heart-warming to see her stand up for poor Stuart. Amy, meanwhile, gets to be the desired person with a boyfriend and a social life rejecting someone she feels sorry for, placing her in the opposite position to the one she occupied during her early seasons with Penny and Bernadette, so that’s satisfying, if not especially hilarious either.

It’s nice to see Amy and Bernadette firmly cement their places among the cast as well. Although they’ve both been regulars for some time, it was only in the first episode of this season that they had their first plot with each other, i.e. without an original cast member, so to see Amy share a story with Raj and Howard (and even take Sheldon’s place at the lunch table) and Bernadette share a plot with the ever under-used Stuart demonstrates a confidence in these characters and their place in the show’s world that’s good to see.

The big story in this episode, though, is Penny, Leonard and Sheldon. Penny and Leonard’s fight from the previous episode is resolved astoundingly quickly. It seems Leonard’s hesitation was, in fact, purely down to Penny’s intoxicated state so with that in mind, it’s actually quite refreshing to see a sitcom character behave in a reasonable and mature manner – Penny fully understands why Leonard didn’t want to accept her proposal in the state she was in. The only problem with this very sensible conversation is that it has little drama to it and what was built up to be a major dramatic issue in the previous episode, as so often happens in this show, turns out to be almost nothing. If you’re not going to do anything with it, why bother with a cliff-hanger?

Thankfully, all of last episode’s drama hasn’t entirely come to nothing, as Penny has taken something from her experiences and has decided to quit her job at the Cheesecake Factory. We’ve yet to see where this will lead for her, but hopefully it will open up a whole new bag of stories involving her acting career, and save the series from the repetitive state it was threatening to fall into. After watching this character struggle and get nowhere for so long, it would be wonderful if this were the start of something really exciting for Penny.

Leonard, too, has learned and is trying to be more supportive, but he accidentally lets slip what he really thinks, leading to (another) confrontation about their future. And here’s where the series leaves us hanging once again. Yet again Leonard and Penny talk about their future and what it might hold, but make no actual decisions. The scene is saved by Sheldon assuming they’re all in some kind of co-dependent relationship and that he’ll be living with them forever, which is genuinely funny. It’s hard to accept yet another argument on this subject with no resolution though. As Sheldon cries out in frustration, ‘What is going on with you two? Are you ever going to get married?’ the audience is right there with him.

It may be that the series writers simply want to give this issue more space than is available in a show that lasts under 21 minutes, and we’ll return to the topic next week. Or it may be that the whole thing will lie dormant for weeks. You can never tell with The Big Bang Theory; too often it dangles what look like ongoing issues needing resolution, never to address them again. But never mind, there are plenty of positives here. Penny and Sheldon is another combination that nearly always works; his support of her, while founded in reasoning rather than affection, is sweet and the combination of Sheldon trying to do yoga and Penny’s expression when he starts talking about people drawing water up through their private parts is probably the funniest thing in the episode. Penny’s career may finally start to move forward now, and the sub-plots are back to offering a fresher take on these characters. Based on this episode, things are once again looking good for The Big Bang Theory in 2014.

Read Juliette's review of the previous episode, The Hesitation Ramification, here.

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This show is not funny.

Well, that's like... your opinion, man.

By the way, how did you even got on this article page if you don't like the show?

I think it is

"Bringing the supporting cast centre-stage works wonders for the latest episode of Community..."

ok, well that's great for Community, but I was kind of hoping to read about The Big Bang Theory. Doh!

I have to agree. I was dumbfounded by just how weak it was when I had the misfortune to see some.

Yeah 'cause no-one on here ever goes to articles of a show/film they hate to comment on it.

Hahaaaaaaaaaaaa

I thought I liked it once. Then I watched some clips without a laugh track and the show was just a black hole of emotion. Everyone character is mean to each other, even though they say they care about each other.

>I thought I liked it once. Then I watched some clips without a laugh track ... >

There are no clips without a "laugh track". The show is recorded in front of a studio audience. The laughter is very real, and part of the soundtrack.

>...and the show was just a black hole of emotion. Everyone character is mean to each other, even though they say they care about each other.>

Pain is humor. Yes, they do care very much about each other, regardless of what they say.

Anything that makes people laugh is, by definition, funny. You don't laugh, don't watch it, but don't disparage others for doing so if they happen to find it so. Its impossible of objectively criticise comedy.

I don't know how the audience laughs then.

>I don't know how the audience laughs then.>

?

Any 1 else notice that Raj previously met that tall dude hitting on Amy at the library during his texting date??? But in this episode he doesn't seem to realize he met him before??

>I don't know how the audience laughs then.>

I believe they use a rare and mystical device called their mouths.

>This show is not funny.>

Do you even know the difference between 'fact' and 'preference'? Because if you did, you'd know that that sentence makes absolutely no sense.

perhaps you mean "I don't find this show funny" or even "This show is not what I consider funny" and i'd have been fine with that because I have many friends who share your opinion. Most of the jokes go unnoticed by my best friend, while my brother just sees it as a boring version of his life (he is an experimental physicist and incredibly similar to Leonard) and another friend just plain doesn't understand it, and these are all fair and understandable.

But "This is not funny" is neither fair, nor understandable; it imposes your preference on the rest of the world. You are saying that I don't find the big bang theory funny, and nor does anyone else in the world, but if that were the case, they wouldn't still be on the air.

>I thought I liked it once.>

Then you liked it. If you think you like something, then you like it. you may not like it anymore, but that doesn't mean that you never did. People change, humour changes, T.V. shows change, if they didn't life would be boring. So please continue to not like it, just do so in a manner that doesn't cause people to hate you.

>Then I watched some clips without a laugh track>

Well that's a blatant lie.

> Everyone character is mean to each other, even though they say they care about each other.>

Even best friends in real life are mean to each other once in while, and look at these guys, do they have many better choices? Besides, I am pretty sure that i have never once heard a crewel word from Stuart, except to himself.

There is far more humor in big bang than just insults, (although often the unintentional insults from Sheldon are some of the funniest lines) such as observational or scientific humor, and some pretty good nerdy references. There's even plenty in there for those that don't get the nerdy or brainy jokes, like visual comedy (such as that scene with Raj and Howard comparing their man-breasts, or Sheldon doing yoga) and sexual comedy (Like the pilot opening scene) and occasionally even some of the classics; impersonations, funny faces and slapstick.

I think that the fact that you can only detect the insults says more to the detriment of yourself than of the show. If you think insults are all big bang is, then watch a less Sheldon/Howard heavy episode. Maybe one with plenty of Raj, he's got to be the most kindhearted in the group. Perhaps a REALLY early episode if you want some science jokes. For the best episodes, try season two, around the middle.

Lastly, if you really want to go around insulting good shows as though they were Babylon 5, pick one with less fans, or at least with a less intelligent target demographic. It will save you some embarrassment in the future.

NICE catch! I knew i'd seen him somewhere before, it was bugging me all weekend.

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