This review contains spoilers.
11.16 The Neonatal Nomenclature
It feels like five years since Bernadette became pregnant with the second Wolowitz spawn on The Big Bang Theory (though it’s probably only been two), but the due date has finally arrived.
We all know that the storyline and Bernadette’s role in the season was dependent on Melissa Rauch’s real-life pregnancy, but wow, how it’s dragged. Having a central character on bed rest is never fun, and I do wonder whether the show might have been better off simply having Bernie go on a work trip or stay with her (eventually dying) father instead of writing the pregnancy into the season.
As it was, several episodes this year have been dragged down by the circumstances, and The Neonatal Nomenclature feels both anticlimactic and by-the-numbers. We’ve been through all this before with Howard and Bernadette, and all the writers could come up with to fill the episode was a sort-of argument about the choice of name. It’s twenty-minutes of nothing.
There’s some fun to be had from seeing each member of the group go to the house in turn and try to entertain the mother-to-be. Penny’s first with some yoga poses meant to induce labour, and Raj wants to try acupuncture before he catches a glimpse of Bernie’s swollen feet. Leonard, as is Leonard’s way, implies that there’s some deep-seeded insecurity behind the missed due date, and Sheldon brings over the world’s most complicated board game.
Trouble starts when Amy lets slip to Howard that Bernadette has already chosen the name Michael, after her father. Howard, knowing nothing of this, storms over and demands to have a say in the process. The rest of the episode sees the gang throw out potential names while avoiding Sheldon’s game at all costs.
Most of the names are taken by old college boyfriends, so it takes a bit longer than expected. In the end they settle on Neil Michael, but because of the fact that Bernie needed four stitches (this, and the extended talk of mucus plugs, is enough to put anyone off their lunch), she’s almost certainly going to get her way.
A nice little sequence to come out of the episode is the two remaining couples – Sheldon and Amy, Leonard and Penny – realising that they’ve both been thinking about having their own kids. Though it’s slightly unbelievable that four people approaching forty (or I guess mid-thirties for the girls) wouldn’t have even discussed this, it promises interesting things for the show’s future.
A couple of chuckles here and there, too – Bernadette taking offence at Penny’s ridiculously flat stomach on display as they work out, and the delayed humour of seeing her waddle after Howard into the kitchen during their argument. Rauch does some lovely work during an episode completely carried by her.
So now we have a new baby, and hopefully some storylines around Howard’s insecurity as a father to a boy. I only wish we could have seen a different couple tackle this particular life hurdle, as Penny and Leonard especially have been handed scraps since they got married.
Hell, the writers could just pair Raj up with a woman who already has kids, but then that would require some multi-episode continuity beyond Raj’s new hairstyle. The main thing is that the baby is here, and we can have Bernadette back as a character.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Novelisation Correlation, here.