'Big Bang Theory' recap: When Leonard met Sheldon

Big-Bang-Theory_320.jpg Image Credit: Robert Voets/CBSI love me a good flashback episode. Fat Monica on Friends, Will and Grace as boyfriend and girlfriend on Will & Grace, how Lisa got her sax on The Simpsons — those are some classic sitcom moments. Unfortunately, when we’re flashing back to the good ol’ days of the first generation iPod, it’s difficult to laugh about how things have changed because, well, they aren’t that different now than they were in the early 2000s. (Save for the fact that Firefly is no longer on television. Sorry, Sheldon.) That’s why I have to say I felt that last night’s Big Bang Theory fell as short as a Yoda action figure.

Not that the Big Bang crew didn’t try. After all, what better way to remedy the lack of distinguishable fashion trends from the early 2000s by dressing Raj and Howard up like they were in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively? (Since my dad, a chemistry professor, regularly had his grad students over for dinner when I was a kid, I am well aware that young scientific minds have a tough time catching up to the latest fashion trends.) And all the elements for a good Big Bang Theory episode were there: Leonard made several endearingly awkward jokes, Howard’s mom made an appearance, and Sheldon was hilariously high-maintenance — more than usual, if the “Die Sheldon Die” paint on Leonard’s future apartment wall was any indication. (Or maybe Sheldon’s last roommate was simply German.) Yet, that was exactly the problem: The show felt no more special than any other Big Bang episode. There were no watercooler moments. And since this was a very special episode — one in which Sheldon and Leonard’s first meeting was shown — it should have have exceeded a good Big Bang episode. It should have been great.

But perhaps my expectations are just too high, after such great episodes this season as “The Excelsior Acquisition” and “The Wheaton Recurrence.” So enough complaining. Let’s at least zero in on my favorite parts of the episode:

1. Leonard, kicked out of his apartment after a thermostat snafu with Sheldon, telling the story of how he and his roommate first met — while painting Penny’s toenails. If I had a nickel for every time an ex-boyfriend painted my toenails, I’d have, well, zero nickels. Which means I would have no money for a pedicure. Which means my ex-boyfriend would have to paint my toenails. Now we’re full circle!

2. Sheldon’s roommate application questions: “What is the sixth noble gas?”; “Kirk or Picard?”; “In a post apocalyptic world, which task would you assign the highest priority: Locating a sustainable food source, re-establishing a functional government, procreating, or preserving the knowledge of mankind?” And, of course, Sheldon would accept any answer besides “procreating.” Perhaps that’s why he c–kblocked Leonard during his romp with a woman — who just so happened to be a spy.

3. Pre-Leonard Sheldon’s sparse decorating: Two lawn chairs, a table, a white board, a television on cement blocks, and model helix. And, of course, this: “The apartment’s flag is a gold lion rampant on a field of azure.” Nice color-coordination, Sheldon!

4. The fact that Sheldon doesn’t “rent to hippies.” Too bad Eric Cartman doesn’t need a roommate.

5. Sheldon’s tie-breaking technique: He settles all ties. Which means, of course, he always wins. This is why he’s a genius, folks.

6. Sheldon’s disappointment upon discovering neither he nor Leonard perfected time-travel in the future: “If either of us ever invents time travel, we agree our first stop will be this meeting today in precisely five seconds. [Waits five seconds.] Well, that’s disappointing.”

7. Sheldon using a Palm Pilot. Wait, maybe early 2000s technology is hilarious! But where were the zip drives?!

Oh, and we finally learned what happened to the elevator: Sheldon used it to shield Leonard and the gang from an experiment gone awry. Eh. I was hoping it somehow involved Wil Wheaton. Fellow Big Bang fans: Were you also just a tad disappointed with the flashback episode? Who looks better in a dress: Penny, or her apartment’s former occupant? And who else wished we could have seen what happened between Sheldon and his former roommate?

Comments (99 total) Add your comment
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  • avril

    are you kidding?!?!?!this episode was awesome!

    • Harry Knockers

      Yeah, it was a very good episode. Lots of jokes for knowledgeable, long-time viewers.

    • Tego Livi

      I wasn’t disappointed because I hadn’t known beforehand it was going to be a flashback. And I thought it was as good as any of the other flashback episodes you named.

    • justin

      I completely agree. I loved this episode. There were a lot of jokes in this one. This is why I don’t put too high expectations on shows, because the expectation factor is increased to the power of ten, which is beyond unfair for good shows like this.

    • D

      I love TBBT but, they have to stop stealing stuff from older series like Friends. Seriously, after seeing Raj with the Miami Vice look I was waiting for Chandler to show up with the A Flock of Seagulls hairdo.

      • Sarah

        Yeah, but with Friends, it was period-appropriate, whereas here it wasn’t at all (but it was still fitting for someone like Raj). Rather than stealing, I thought it was just poking fun at the flashback trope by using a flashback cliche.

      • Michelle

        I think Raj’s outfit was perfectly fitting. If he recently arrived from India, what was probably on TV there – Miami Vice (or Baywatch…)

  • Lynn M

    I agree with Avril. This episode was hilarious!

    • AcaseofGeo

      I agree it was hilarious. The allusion to the little-discussed detail at the beginning of the series that Penny’s apartment used to be occupied by a drag queen was excellent continuity. I was a bit put off by the fashion and hair. We’re talking about ONLY SEVEN YEARS. C’mon. Even geeks 7 years ago didn’t look like that. Funny that Sheldon’s style hasn’t changed a bit.

  • scrabbleboy

    Was funny for me but it wasn’t the greatest episode of the series.

    • tina

      I thought it was funny but dragged a little. Also, if this took place in the early 2000s, why the 80s hair and miami vice outfit. I know they’re nerds but they would have at least dressed 90s style!

      • steph

        i think the miami vice outfit Raj was wearing was because he had just came over from India…

      • Harry Knockers

        Interesting, steph. You may be right. I wish they’d given more hints about the outfit.

    • queue55

      Loved, loved, LOVED Raj’s Don Johnson hair and suit even if it was anachronistic!

      • queue55

        Yikes! I just noticed in the photo above he was sockless as well… Well done!

  • Jason

    I thought it was great and unlike you I don’t ever think flashback episodes are the “best” ones. They are usually great but not the best.

  • Carin

    Any episode where I actually *laugh out loud* without having to abbreviate.. was a good episode for me.

    • Dixie

      Agreed — it was even rewind-watch-bits-again funny.

  • Picard not Kirk

    I rather enjoyed the backstory and I agree with scrabbleboy, funny, but not the greatest.

  • sarah

    I agree that this episode was lacking!! I figured that since it had the whole “flashback” quality, it would be extra special, but all that we really got to see was that Sheldon was annoying back THEN too! Everything seemed contrived- especially the fuel/rocket/ explosion part. I mean, it was natural that they would explain the elevator problem… but come on. I think they could have done more with Raj and Howard- seeing as how they were all dressed up! It was like the writers stuck to a flow chart of how to do a predictable episode.
    The part with Penny (again CONTRIVED) seemed just silly. I wish they would focus on her and give her character some meat instead of giving her just walk-on dialogue here and there. Tonight’s home pregnancy test flashback segment wasn’t even that funny! Penny brings a good dynamic to the group of boys and she needs to mix things up more often!!
    FRIENDS showed us how funny a flashback can be. This episode dropped the ball.

  • oderal

    It is a great episode but I do agree not a classic upon those mention in Category of flashbacks

  • maiv

    I have to disagree with a previous poster and state that flashback episodes usually are epic! How can you not love an appearance from fat Monica? But anyways, yeah, I thought it was weird that they dressed like they were from the 80’s as well. I also loved the 5 second moment as well.

    • D

      I thought fat Monica sucked. I hate cheap jokes based around fat suits, alcoholics or bulimia though.

      • Kat

        AGREED. And the weird thing is, if you really look at the waistline on “Fat Monica”, she’s actually not that big. The appearance of fatness comes from her face and probably also her annoying personality when she’s in the fat suit. Somehow that contributes. Anyways, like you said, I don’t find cheap shots very funny. Chandler and Ross with stupid hair and clothes? Hilarious. Fat jokes? Lazy.

    • Strepsi

      I agree, fat jokes are lame. Fat PEOPLE, however, are hilarious!

  • Chris20906

    I was a little disappointed and confused what happened to half the stuff in the apartment. I like the episdodes with Penny. This was pre-soft kitty.

    • Amanda

      They were in their early days of school. They did not have good jobs yet to have acquired all of the items that are now in the apartment.

  • thin

    I thought the elevator bit was a riot. Sheldon flips the apartment flag upside down to show that they’re in trouble and then blows up the elevator with badly-mixed rocket fuel? Come on!

    • D

      Dr. Sheldon Cooper for the Win!

    • gail

      Elevator was fantastic! “Your welcome”…. too funny

  • Tessa

    I absolutely loved this episode, I laughed a lot and I think it was interesting to learn more about Leonard and Sheldon’s relationship. Now we know why Leonard puts up with him.
    Loved the time travel bit and how Raj was still learning new words!

  • Morgaine

    Laugh out loud moment – Raj stuffing the Oreos in his mouth behind Howard’s back as Howard’s mother bellowed “what happened to the Oreos on the counter??!!”, or words to that effect. “…you’ll have to take your bath without them”…..

  • Caramia

    I liked how they all dressed differently, with different hair, except for Sheldon. He has always looked the same. I have a feeling if they flash back to his days in Texas, he’ll look exactly the same. Come to think of it, he does dress a little like a 10-yr old boy.

  • JenR

    The time travel bit was great. I laughed and laughed. Also, it is good to finally know what happened to the elevator, but we still don’t know why it was never fixed. Seven years is a long time.

    • Tego Livi

      I don’t know–If my tenants blew up my elevator with rocket fuel I might refuse to fix it, too. Plus it might require some pretty expensive reconstruction.

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