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The Big Bang Theory: “The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition”

Illustration for article titled The Big Bang Theory: “The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition”
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Well let’s just get the elephant in the room out in the open: It really sucks that Community isn’t on NBC’s midseason schedule. No, The Big Bang Theory isn’t as complex or clever as Community, but maybe that simplicity is why it dominates the ratings. That said, feel free to go crazy in the comments, because venting will ultimately help us heal and move forward. “The Flaming Spittoon Acquisition” is a serviceable episode that is representative of this entire season; the jokes are fairly evenly split between hit and miss, the story is strongest when the women are around, and Sheldon remains a problem.

When Stuart the Comic Guy shows an interest in Amy, Sheldon has to change the paradigm of their relationship if he’s going to keep her. As Todd put it in today’s What’s On Tonight?: “Have you noticed that Stuart is just the all-purpose way for the romantic storylines to move forward?” He joked that the writers are going to find a way to get Stuart and Bernadette together to teach Howard a lesson, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers decide to go that route at some point later in the season. I can see it now: A raccoon traps Howard in his bedroom, and Stuart goes to a gallery with Bernadette to make Howard fight the raccoon and learn about courage and doing things for someone you love or something.


Stuart is the eternally downtrodden nice guy that is actually making an effort to find a girlfriend but always picks the girls that these four crazy nerds are into. As Penny says, Amy doesn’t have a boyfriend; she has a Sheldon. She has someone that likes to be coddled like a child and limits physical contact in any way possible. Why shouldn’t Amy choose Stuart over Sheldon? Sheldon’s an asshole this week, taking unnecessary pleasure in teasing Leonard about his scientific career slump and pestering him to consider a career as a History teacher. It might just be roommate teasing, but Sheldon’s just become an unlikable character this season. He needs to follow Penny’s advice, “strap on a pair,” and grow up.

Amy has a good time with Stuart at coffee, he has the “sallow, drawn countenance associated with an overactive Thyroid gland” (that’s hot!), and he actually fawns over her on Facebook. Before Sheldon shows up to ruin their movie date, it looks like Stuart is actually thinking about making a move, but Amy robs herself of any potential intimacy by signing Sheldon’s contract. Yeah, Sheldon makes Amy sign a contract that forces her to take on all the duties of his mother if he’s going to be her “boyfriend,” 31 pages of Oedipal issues laying out the hand-holding and boo-boo rules of their relationship, amongst other things. By the end of the episode, Amy and Sheldon are girlfriend and boyfriend, but beyond Amy’s expanded servitude, nothing has changed. Amy deserves better.

On a lighter note, Penny has become a bit of an alcoholic, and there’s something so pathetic about her excitement at seeing a bottle of peach schnapps that it’s impossible not to laugh. I’ve said it a lot this season, but the best scenes this episode are of the three ladies in Penny’s apartment. The chemistry between the three actresses has become much more captivating than the men, and it feels like the writers are still exploring new ground with the women, while the guys are retreading old stories. This week, Penny’s alcoholism is the butt of the episode’s best jokes. “Well ladies, we killed the bottle,” Penny announces at the top of the first all-girl scene, to which Amy responds that she’s only had half a glass, and Bernadette admits she never even got any. When a drunk Penny falls asleep playing Twister at the end of the episode, Bernadette wakes her by saying they’re out of wine. Penny springs awake, telling Bernadette that she’ll probably have to drive.

Nerd culture, straightforward relationships, and a drunk blonde chick are the foundation of Big Bang Theory, and if that’s what you’re looking for in a TV show, this week’s episode will please you. It doesn’t attempt to break new ground or push the envelope in any way, and hopefully you’ve already watched Community if you’re looking for that.


Stray observations:

  • Jim Parsons is in negotiations to star in a Broadway revival of Mary Chase’s Harvey, a play about one man’s friendship with a giant invisible rabbit. I think it’s great casting, and Parsons got strong reviews for his Broadway debut in A Normal Heart last year.
  • This episode’s tag is basically Melissa Rauch with her legs splayed over a Twister board and Kaley Cuoco laying on her. Fanservice!
  • Penny’s response to Sheldon’s obnoxious knocking: Yell “Who do we love!” between every “Penny.” She is brilliant, although she has a horrible outfit during the scene where Sheldon asks her on a date.
  • The interim comic shop clerk Dale was painful to watch, and hopefully, he never shows up on this series again.
  • Best silly card names this episode: “Wild Bill Witchcock,” “Beelzebobcat,” and “Hocus Pocus Pocahontas.”
  • “Amy, you little vixen, just working it under all those layers of wool and polyester.” Doesn’t Amy ever got hot under that combination of fabric?

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