The Big Bang Theory Watch: The 21-Second Excitation

The Big Bang Theory cast
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

The universe of The Big Bang Theory is changing. New regulars Bernadette and Amy are impacting the show’s comedy with such contrasting charm that episodes such as tonight’s would have seemed so foreign to the show’s structure years ago. I guess one could note that the characters are expanding, and the show can only personify that with new relationships, new dynamics, and new wit.

"The 21-Second Excitation" was a mixture of freshness and old school Big Bang Theory. Tonight, the guys had their geeky outing, while the girls enjoyed a casual yet disconcerting night in. I was excited to see how well Penny, Amy, and Bernadette could hold a scene alone without the buoyancy and familiarity of our firm regular cast. Certainly, the three of them satiated that excitement.

Amy’s inexperience with sleepovers would naturally drive her to research the meticulous details that make up a slumber party, only to commit various faux pas in the process. I’m sorry, Amy, but you should not share the physical dimensions of your body’s most private parts, nor should you cater to lesbian tendencies when the host of the sleepover is sobbing in the bathroom. Her maladroitness developed some uniquely feminine moments for The Big Bang Theory, which is a milestone for the series. Even seeing Bernadette and Penny geek out in their own effeminate ways shrewdly clarified the not-so-nebulous dichotomy between men and women.

However, the night’s once fun soiree veered into a disaster once the subject of Leonard came up. In a misguided game of Truth or Dare, Amy and Bernadette burned Penny with the floating question, “Why do you still hang out with Leonard?” Penny’s initial sheepish response that, “Leonard is a great guy!” transformed into a silent rage when Amy asked her what she would do if Leonard were to start seeing someone else.

And thus, the Penny and Leonard story is not yet over. Of course, their relationship has been idle, not even stewing a bit of chemistry. However, her feelings for him are apparent and very expected. The show’s original concept is obviously not done with, and I’m glad to see the topic resurface.

As for the guys, they spent their night waiting in line for a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Their story wasn’t nearly as profound as the girls’, but it was still an adventure nonetheless. With the bickering amongst the four, and Sheldon’s casual encounter with arch-nemesis Wil Wheaton, their excursion reminded me of the show’s earlier seasons. I would have enjoyed some parallels reflecting Leonard’s feelings for Penny, though, but I guess the writers chose not to flail him with more tribulations. He tends to be the series’ recipient of pain; so to see him strut about the night, unknowingly having effect on a girl back home, made tonight somewhat of a victory for him.

I wish I could say the same for Sheldon, whose loss to long lines and Wil Wheaton only brought him to immaturity. After being denied entrance to the theater due to audience capacity, Sheldon stole the film reel in improbable, sitcom fashion. His actions bared almost no consequence, and the result of his pilferage was left unknown. Such was the case with Penny’s actions too. Her breakdown was barely assessed, and I would have loved to see it develop into a strong, meaningful ending. However, the show dispensed only a little bit of foresight.

It’s nice to see an episode explore new terrain, but I would have liked to see some closure from this experience. Grouping characters into unexpected situations deserve reason for their placement to begin with. It seems that only Amy could shed some light on Penny’s remaining feelings left for Leonard, but it couldn’t quite amount to anything. Hopefully, the series decides to go for some serialized storytelling over the next few episodes. Again, mixing some old school Big Bang with some new ideas wouldn’t be so bad.