'Big Bang Theory' recap: Leonard's mother kisses Sheldon. Will life ever be the same?

In honor of our show’s scientific heroes, Big Bang theorists, I’m going to do a bit of an experiment with tonight’s Big Bang Theory recap. The Christmas season visit by Leonard Hofstadter’s mother Beverly, played by the inestimably fabulous Christine Baranski, was overflowing with so many great moments, so many great lines, and so mind-meltingly topped with one whopper of a smooch, I’m simply going to have to walk us through the episode, scene by scene, and highlight the great moments (and, on rare occasion, not-so-great moments) and the best lines.

So let’s start with the cold open, an unusually throwaway scene for a episode so packed with plot, but nonetheless…

Great moment: How perfect was it that Sheldon identifies with the pre-heart-expanding-three-times Grinch from How the Grinch Stole Christmas?

Not-so-great moment: Leonard ironically singing “Fa la la la la, la la la la.” Christmas carols are pretty much irony-proof.

We next segued to Penny and Leonard decorating an impressively large Christmas tree for two scientists, one of whom looks upon the whole idea of Christmas with a mix of mild distain (for the memories of his über-Christmasy childhood) and mild bemusement (for the notion that the world is actually celebrating not the birth of Christ but an ancient pagan ritual retrofitted to celebrate the birth of Christ). But the big news was that Leonard’s mother was coming to visit, and not only had he not told Penny about it, but he hadn’t told his mother that he and Penny were dating.

Best line: Penny: “Why wouldn’t she approve of me? I’m adorable!”

Second best line: Sheldon [after Leonard responds to Penny’s questions about his mother by repeating “Ummmm…”]: “Leonard, I’m no expert on meditiation, but if you’re trying to calm yourself down, I believe the word is ‘Om.'”

Next, Leonard and Sheldon picked up Beverly from the airport, whereupon Leonard learned that his mother and his roommate keep in constant contact, so much so that Sheldon sent Beverly flowers after her carpel tunnel surgery because “it’s the social convention.” When the conversation turned to Leonard’s romantic life, Leonard evaded, prompting this reply from his mother:

Best line: Beverly: “I will point out Leonard that I am a trained psychiatrist, and you are exhibiting the same secretive behavioral tics that accompanied your learning to masturbate.”

Great moment: Sheldon, practically swooning in response.

Third favorite moment of the night: With Leonard, Sheldon, Penny, and Beverly joined by Howard and Raj for dinner, Beverly opened the scene by asking, “So, Howard, have you and Rajesh finally summoned the courage to express your latent homosexual feelings towards one another?” Although we never really saw or heard from Raj and Howard again last night, it is nice when a sitcom can be so honest about its latent homosexual subtexts, isn’t it?

And just when I began to wonder what sort of man would marry and procreate with a woman like Beverly, and if we would ever meet him, Beverly casually dropped the bombshell on Leonard that she’s divorcing his father, something Sheldon apparently had known was in the offing since pretty much the season premiere. This news, including the sordid revelation that Leonard’s papa was cavorting with a waitress, of all people, seemed to put the kibosh on Beverly learning that Penny, Cheesecake Factory waitress extraordinaire, was dating her son.

That is, until the next scene, when Penny learned, while driving Beverly back to her hotel, that her possible future mother-in-law has been responsible for her own orgasms since 1982. So, naturally, Penny took Beverly on a detour for a drink, and we cut to Sheldon futilely attempting to help Leonard through the compound indignity of his roommate learning his mother was getting divorce and that his beloved dog Mitzi had died before he’d learned about either. Their exchange was such a perfect example of classic Big Bang banter that I’ve decided to recreate a whole chunk of it here:

Great exchange:
Sheldon: I made tea.
Leonard: I don’t want tea.
Sheldon: I didn’t make tea for you. This is my tea.
Leonard: Then why are you telling me?
Sheldon: It’s a conversation starter.
Leonard: It’s a lousy conversation starter.
Sheldon: Oh is it? We’re conversing. Checkmate.
Leonard: What do you want, Sheldon.
Sheldon: What I want is to be departing the Starship Enterprise in a one-man shuttlecraft headed to the planetoid I rule known as Sheldon Alpha 5.
Leonard: Mmm, I want that too.

And then later, the scene was capped with this trenchantly sentimental moment:

Sheldon: Where your biological family has failed you, you’ll always have me, your surrogate family.
Leonard: You’re my surrogate family?
Sheldon: If it’s any consolation, I’m not happy about it either.

Back at the Cheesecake Factory, Penny introduce Beverly to the wonders of tequila shots, and worked up enough liquid courage to initiate…

My absolute favorite moment of the night: Penny leaned in and said, with winning matter-of-factness, “Hey, Bev, guess what? I’m sleeping with your son.” The later climactic kiss may have been more of a show-stopper (and more on that in a second), but in moments like these, in a series overrun with eccentrics, Penny is pretty much the most normal character in a TV comedy today, and I adore her for it. Especially in the face of Beverly’s initial response…

Ickiest moment of the night: Beverly: “How’d his penis turn out?” How Baranski managed to pull off this line with Beverly’s dignity intact, I’ll never know.

Convinced Leonard needed to be confronted about keeping his relationship with Penny from his mother, the two women cabbed it back to Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, and Baranski all but assured her second Big Bang Emmy nomination with her delivery of my…

Favorite line of the night: Beverly: “Why didn’t you tell me you were tapping my home girl?!”

Leonard confronted Beverly about how withholding she is about her life, and the two kinda sorta made up with the most awkward mother-son hug I’ve maybe ever seen. And then, oh then, Sheldon came out to see what all the ruckus was about, and for the second time in the episode, Beverly smashed clear through the sexual subtext in my…

Second favorite moment of night: She planted a big one right on Sheldon’s kisser. Penny was shocked. Sheldon was totally nonplussed. And Beverly was unsatisfied, preferring the (unseen) hot busboy back at the Cheesecake Factory.

Leonard, thankfully, remained willfully ignorant of the entire incident, driving his hung-over mother back to the airport with his hung-over girlfriend and still nonplussed roommate. And just when the episode was coming to an end, after Beverly implored him to take care of Penny — “She doesn’t have much in the way of career prospects, don’t make her responsible for her own orgasms as well” — the writers forced Penny to nearly derail the entire scene in the…

Worst moment of the night: Penny, practically looking at the camera, singing another ironic, “Fa la la la la, la la la la.” Seriously.

Phew! I didn’t even get to the choice Del Taco jokes, or the exploration of Weltschmerz, but that was a darn fine episode, wasn’t it? Do you think there’s going to be any further fallout from Beverly’s indiscretion with Sheldon? Will we ever meet Leonard’s father, and if we do, who should play him? (My suggestion: Martin Mull.) And do you think Raj and Howard will ever summon the courage to express their latent homosexual feelings towards each other?

Comments (114 total) Add your comment
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  • TheObserver

    I think eugene Levy should play Leonards dad. I think it would be awesome. I don’t think there will be any further fall out from the kiss. Chrisitne Baranskey was impeccable and Howard had one of the best lines of the night when Raj started whispering in his ear while trying to thwart Mrs. Hofstadters diagnosis of thier latent homosexual feelings towards one another. Overall hilarious ep.

    • A.J. Simon

      Awful episode, I barely laughed. I loved this show in its first two seasons but it seems to be falling into the same rut many sitcoms fall into – it is morphing into a dramedy with the focus on Leonard and Penny (the most boring characters on the show) and while I love Sheldon, they are starting to overuse him much like the Simpsons with Homer, SNL with Kirsten Wiig, and Family Matters with Urkel. All of those characters became annoying fast and I think the same will happen with Sheldon. I think they should focus more on Wolowitz/Gunthrapali and spread it around more. And has anyone noticed Leonard acts less and less like a nerd now – its almost like he is the cool guy now the way he acts.

      • Dan

        AJ–you must be watching Bizarro Big Bang Theory. Best ep of the year so far.

      • lefty

        I agree with AJ; my friends and I thought it was a very strange episode…

      • KimR

        You took the words right off my keyboard. Sheldon is becoming annoying. I used to laugh out loud at this show and now, Sheldon’s voice is driving me crazy. Irritating. I didn’t even watch this one.

  • Aishwarya

    Great eppy! I laughed myself to death! When this series started I thought it was full of cliches and bored jokes but now it is so much more than that. It rocks!

  • Mike

    This is seriously the funniest show in the last 20 years, the writing continues to get better and better.

  • jennie

    I love this show! its one of the only shows on tv that my hubby and i both like and can watch together. And we live in Christine Baranski’s home town =)

  • Sara-Kate

    This ep is AWESOME! Loved every part of it (except the “fa la la la la” bits; I wasn’t amused either). The BBT Moms should REALLY get together! :D

    • Leah84

      I think when the Moms get together, Sheldon’s mother should bring his Meemaw with her.

  • Deb

    Was it just HD gone wild, or did Sheldon’s hands look like they were infected with a flesh-eating bacteria? SOOOOO distracting!

    • Elli

      I noticed the same thing on Craig Ferguson’s show a couple days ago when Jim Parsons (Sheldon) was a guest.

  • Teresa

    Christine Baranski is FABULOUS! and she totally ROCKED this episode. I laughed so hard everytime she opened her mouth. Great episode, great writing and great acting. Give Christine her Emmy.

  • JMB

    Yes, Sheldon’s mother and Leonard’s mother need to be in an episode together, preferably some sort of Mother’s Day celebration. Networks, listen to why this would be a WIN:
    1. May is a sweeps month
    2. Christine Baranski and Laurie Metcalf are two fabulous actresses who deserve to be on the air more
    3. Buttoned up, emotionally repressed psychiatrist and evangelical Christian–together
    4. Beverly kissed Sheldon, and that would make an EPIC confrontation between the two
    5. Take them over to Howard’s house and you’ve got a comedy explosion WAITING TO HAPPEN

    Writers, heed my words!! The fans are waiting!!

    • Remy

      That might be the most brilliant idea ever.

    • orville

      This needs to happen. Absolutely.

    • da

      OMG, that would be THE BEST! I heard that Big Bang is in the running to be the show after the Superbowl, and that it could be lengthened to an hour show. This would be the perfect storyline! (except for it not being a Mother’s Day episode)

    • bp5simp

      YES !!! This would make the best episode ever!!!

    • Run

      Yes, S’s and L’s moms in the same ep would be great. But I’d rather not have W’s mom in it too. She’s only funny in (very) small doses.

      • castiella

        Wouldn’t it be great if Wolowitz’s mom turned out to be totally hot, though? I vote for Debi Mazar. We KNOW she can do that voice.

      • Kristen

        If they kept Howard’s mom off camera it would be perfect! Can you imagine Leonard’s mom psycho analyzing Howard’s mom? Tho it would definitely help with her latent homosexuality theory!

      • Mike

        Debi Mazar is NOT hot. She is butt-ugly with an annoying “I am SO New Yawk” accent, and would cause me to never watch the show again!

    • Jeannie

      Fab idea, but make it an hour episode. Too much drama and mom charisma for a half hour episode.

    • Shdrew


    • bootsycolumbia

      Awesome idea. I wish I’d thought of it.

    • jeane

      brilliant! is anyone listening?? this must happen!

  • bcmom

    Love, love, love Christine Baranski! Wish she could be on more often. I miss her Maryann character on “Cybill.” She plays the best drunk. She was the original drinking lady before Karen on “Will and Grace.” Would love to see a match-up between those two characters.

    • Katie G

      agreed. Her character on Cybill was genius… and much more interesting then Karen ever was.

      • Pete

        Disagree, although her character on Cybil was terrific and she received one Emmy Award, Meghan Mullally managed to win two Emmys for her role as the pill popping Karen Walker. So it seems the members of the academy would also disagree with you.

    • Ron

      but not the orriginal drunk. she was heavily influenced by ABFAB

      • Sue1

        Very much influenced by ABFAB, you’re right.

      • Vann

        Christine said in an interview that she never watched AbFab exactly for that reason.

        The influence came in the writer’s side, not hers.

        Though Patsy was awesome, Maryann had much more depth

  • Lizabeth

    Great recap! I like a reviewer who is clearly as big a fan of the show as I am! I thought the show was fantastic, though I do agree with that the falalalala’s weren’t funny. TBBT is easily one of the best shows on tv!

  • Diane R

    Is there any reason why Leonard’s father can’t be British? Because I’d kill to see Anthony Steward Head playing Leonard’s ‘breaking out of a lifetime of repression’ father.

    • Jillz

      Anthony Head is definitely a good choice. For some reason, my brain went to Alan Thicke. He’s goofy enough, and he played a shrink on Growing Pains :-).

    • orville

      I’m liking Adam’s Martin Mull suggestion. He and Johnny Galecki have a similar laid-back air to them. And a similar snark.

      • castiella

        …And a similar IMDB credit. They were both on Roseanne, along with recurring Bangers Laurie Metcalf and Sara Gilbert. They should cast Martin Mull just to continue the streak!

      • Mike

        For some Reason, I have always pictured John Goodman as either LEonard or Sheldon’s Dad (Particularly Sheldon) due to the fact that he is SOOO different from either Johnny Galecki OR Jim Parsons that I think it would be hysterical. Another out-there idea for Leonard’s Dad…Chevy Chase, his Dad in Christmas Vacation. I doubt it would happen though with Chevy being on an NBC show right now.

    • jeane

      what’s the name of the guy who directed “best in show,” jamie lee curtis’ husband? he would be awesome.

  • Mark

    I’ve been loving “The Good Wife”, partly because I love Christine Baranski in an unexpected dramatic role as the tough boss. She’s so good there, in fact, I was beginning to wonder if drama is actually what Baranski does best.
    Then last night’s BBT flushed that theory right down the toilet. Christine, you’re a fine dramatic actress, but you’re pretty close to a comic genius.

  • Jogirl

    I liked the Fa La La La Las. I thought they were very funny and snidely appropriate.

    The Del Taco joke was that when Beverly said her heart was feeling warm (supposedly over her mother/son moment with Leonard), Penny inferred that it was just heartburn from the taco joint.

    Very good show. Love ever epi.

    • Sue1

      I liked the Fa La La Las too.

      • Remy

        Same here – they had me cracking up.

      • Pokey

        A wonderful job. Super heulfpl information.

    • Meg

      In the Elizabethan times Fa la las stood in for singing about sex. I thought it was entirely appropriate.

      • Sue

        I was not aware of that…

  • torrence5

    Best episode of the season – absolutely loved it. Great use of the cast – all with a part & interacting without focusing too much on the “romance” of Penny & Leonard. Loved it

  • Sarah

    I loved it when Raj started whispering to Howard and he said something like “your lips on my ear isn’t helping matters” or something to that effect!

    • Jeannie

      Ditto, hysterical moment. I guess Raj can’t speak to ALL women (except his Mom) since he couldn’t say anything in Leonard’s Mom’s presence either.

      • V

        Penny was in the room…so that doesn’t really prove anything…

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