This review contains spoilers.
8.3 The First Pitch Insufficiency
As divisive as The Big Bang Theory has become over the years, or as aggravating as some of its quirks now are, the show has always justified its continued success with the way it treats its characters and the relationships between them. When things first started to feel a bit stale, we were treated to two new female characters thrown into the mix and, even now that all four of the original guys are paired up, it somehow always finds new stories to tell with them.
One thing that I’ll always appreciate the show for is the way Penny and Leonard have been portrayed. Penny may have started off as the ditsy blonde to Leonard’s socially awkward nerd-guy-next-door, but over the years we’ve gradually seen them grow into each other. The construction of Sheldon and Amy’s unlikely romance has understandably received the most attention in that department since it was introduced a few seasons ago, but every once in a while, we’re made to take another look at The Big Bang Theory’s core coupling.
As consistent as the wonderful things about their relationship are, the flaws in their characters and the dynamic between them are just as apparent. This episode, The First Pitch Insufficiency, was tasked with highlighting some of the insurmountable problems that stand in the way of them and ultimate, end-game married bliss and, even if it doesn’t end up dominating the episode, it’s a perfect example of some of things the show still has going for it eight years in.
Penny’s insecurities surface during a double date with Sheldon and Amy, in which the most intentionally awkward duo of the show are allowed to just be there and be funny. As great as Jim Parsons is in those Emmy-earning dramatic moments, it’s always enjoyable to see Sheldon in his more laid-back, auto-deluded mode and even more so to see Amy enjoying that side of him just as much. It’s one of those episodes that makes the case for two of them being perfect for each other, without necessarily drawing attention to it.
As much as I’ve talked about the couples, the bulk of the episode was actually dedicated to another of my favourite elements of the show – Howard. Simon Helberg, as usual, is a gem and these types of episodes where Howard is highlighted are almost always comedic stand-outs of the season. It’s too early to say whether that’s the case here, but the plot in which Howard is tasked with throwing the first pitch for a Los Angeles Angels’ game was reliably hilarious.
As the kind of thing that could play into some of the most common criticisms of the show and its over-reliance on poking fun at nerds and nerd culture, it actually did something a little different. There was nothing particularly groundbreaking about the plot, or about how the episode handled the Howard/Bernadette/Raj trio (when are we going to see Emily integrated into the group?), but sometimes even just a slight deviation from low expectations can make something feel ten times better. Howard’s choice to use his smarts to compensate for his physical limitations did that perfectly.
Next week we get to see a little more of Emily, and how she might fit in with our established cast, and the return of Stuart’s ill-fated comic book store. It’s exciting to have some new blood, but something tells me one or more of the girls won’t be so welcoming to an outsider.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, The Junior Professor Solution, here.
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