This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
10.19 The Collaboration Fluctuation
There are several reasons I don’t envy the writing team behind The Big Bang Theory, and one of them is because they’re the people who have to concoct brand new situations for their situational comedy every week, filling more than twenty-two half-hours every season. Now, you might sensibly argue that this is their job and they’re being paid handsomely for it, but I also find myself racking my brains for what I’d do with each of these characters and coming up with very little.
Very little is most likely just enough for the majority of the show’s viewers, but there are others who’ll always demand more. That’s been the problem with Leonard and Penny this season – the writers have cycled through everything they had planned for the male and female lead, and there’s nothing left. They’re left with scraps while the better writing goes towards Sheldon and sometimes Howard.
Which is why having Raj move into the main apartment was a great idea. It’s not going to set anybody’s world on fire, but it’s a fun change of dynamic that solves two of The Big Bang Theory’s major issues. It gives them an excuse to write a A-plot involving Penny and Leonard, and it puts Raj front and centre.
Raj is a fun character when the show uses him well, but that’s so rare that it’s easy to dismiss him (just like his friends) as the seventh wheel. I’d even argue that jokes built around his love for fashion, gossip and other traditionally ‘girly’ things can be funny when they’re not also implying that those things make him gay, so I rather enjoyed the lightness offered to that thread in The Collaboration Fluctuation.
It would have been dumb to simply repeat the beats of last season’s ‘Stuart lives with the Wolowitzs’, arc because they were only half-successful to begin with, and Raj and Penny’s relationship is not one that’s been delved into a whole lot post-waking up in bed together seasons and seasons ago.
Leonard’s jealousy makes him the least well-served in this episode, but I’ll take a storyline that makes Penny look great over one that bigs up Leonard any day.
Then we have Sheldon and Amy, who decide to work together on a project I don’t understand after Amy tickles her boyfriend’s fancy with some neurobiology talk. It starts off well, mirroring how well Penny and Raj are getting along across the hall with a montage set to – what else – ‘Happy Together’ by The Turtles. But they quickly hit a wall and realise their giddily-drawn calculations are absolute nonsense.
Once they start fighting they have a breakthrough, and resolve to throw out the ground rules agreed on beforehand so they can wind each other up enough to stumble into a good idea. None of this is remotely new and interesting, but I’ve given up on critiquing how often this couple get a so-so storyline with so-so gags over all the other characters The Big Bang Theory has at its disposal.
More than anything, The Collaboration Fluctuation is probably a good indication of what we’ll be getting for the next two years while so much of the talent behind this show will be devoting time to the Young Sheldon spin-off (see Buffy season four and Arrow season three for details).
Whether that fills you with a sense of warm comfort or absolute dread and despair will likely dictate whether you’ll be back for more fun next year.