“The Jiminy Conjecture”
September 28th, 2009
I know it’s unrealistic, but part of me wanted this episode to start with a moment of recognition from Leonard as to how he treated Sheldon last week, and for that matter a moment for Sheldon to reflect on his own behaviour. I know that this is a traditional sitcom, one where the storyline from the week before could well have never happened (to some degree) before this one, which meant that the show will pick up the next day in some ways but not in others, but part of me wanted them to admit that what happened in the season premiere was not just another incident, and that Sheldon quitting his job was not something that can just be rewritten and forgotten.
However, that didn’t happen: there are no apologies, Sheldon magically has his job back, and the only thing that continues on is Penny and Leonard’s relationship. As such, this is my final complaint: I think it was a mistake, and that it tainted what could have been a strong premiere.
Now, moving onto “The Jiminy Conjecture,” this was an example of the show going back to basics by dividing off their characters and letting the Sheldon, Raj and Howard have some fun while Leonard and Penny attempt to figure out their relationship. While my past views on the show can tell you which side of the episode I preferred, it was a fun half hour of comedy at the end of the day, which is more than I can say for the convoluted premiere.
A note about last week, although not some sort of rant. There was discussion that Sheldon “deserved” what came to him because of how horribly he’s treated his friends in the past, a fair point that isn’t always counteracted by the fact that he doesn’t know anybody. When Sheldon stops in place, trying to figure out just what he did wrong that resulted in Penny running out of the room horrified, he eventually figures out that it was because he had discussed Leonard and Penny’s private sex life in front of them. The episode felt like an effort to humble Sheldon, in some ways, as he loses the cricket bet (which would be strange, but not strange enough, were it about the sport and not the insect) and even has to deal with the switch from the Tandori Palace to the Mumbai Palace. While Sheldon eventually stops bothering to figure out what he’d done to offend Leonard at the end of the episode (to my mind, nothing – Penny was the one who brought it up, after all), it’s like the show saying “Oh look, Sheldon still doesn’t care about the feelings of others,” which I guess is fair but nonetheless interesting to see them return to this subject so soon after last week.
Overall, the cricket story offered some fun moments for Sheldon (learning of his terrifying childhood chicken attack made me think of my mother, who had a similar experience with a chicken of the headless variety), and there was some fun physical comedy with the closet gag. And while Lewis Black wasn’t actually given anything funny to say (seriously, imagine someone who doesn’t yell everything reading his lines and it’s almost plain old bad), his overacting was a nice fit for the somewhat intimidated physics folk and their godless lasers. Sheldon losing the bed felt like a twist I didn’t see coming, but one that didn’t entirely take away what makes Sheldon so much fun (like him doubting that he would ever be wrong twice in one week, his cockiness shifting from one point to another).
I don’t think we can even call what happened to Leonard and Penny a storyline, however. They were having trouble having great sex, so instead of talking about it they set an example for all young couples out there when they got drunk, talked about how much fun it is to say schnapps, and then spent the night throwing up instead of hooking up. I’m not sure if they thought that seeing Penny puking in a sink was going to make us laugh as opposed to following Leonard’s lead and puking some more, but it was another example of how these two characters don’t actually work together. I don’t mean this in terms of their relationship, the crazy kids can have sex all they want for all I care. But, for the rhythm of the show, something just felt off about those scenes, lacking any of the show’s trademark humour and feeling more repetitive than anything else.
Overall, I thought the episode was pretty light and frothy, although something about it felt a little bit off. It was like every joke was telegraphed, each gag doing nothing to go beyond the gag itself. Sheldon didn’t say anything funny when he was trapped in the elevator, or at least nothing funny in a Sheldon sort of fashion. The joke was “Oh look, it’s Sheldon in an elevator,” not anything beyond that point. The entire episode felt like that, with things being put through the paces and the trust being placed on the performers and the director to get it out of the characters. And yes, this is basically the status quo for the show, but it seemed particularly true at a few points in this one, keeping it from feeling like an episode of import in the grand scheme of things.
- Parsons continues to amaze me, although I think his recitations of historical events (or normal events as historical events – see: Sweaty Night of 06) that works best for me, as he turns into Mr. Encyclopedia and still manages to be funny.
- What does Raj have against Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? I know the movie didn’t blow anyone away, but they nailed the final scenes and at the end of the day that’s all that’s particularly important in the grand scheme of things – “just fine” is probably accurate, though, just not sure why they picked that one and not another.
- Penny and Leonard appear to be heading towards a friends with benefits relationship – can’t wait to see Sheldon wrap his head around that one.
- Cleverest joke of the episode was Sheldon’s ladybug joke, something that was a bit TOO obvious to be particularly funny until filtered through Sheldon’s insistence on informing him that it was a joke, that it was funny, and why he told it to him.