Spoilers for last night's "Big Bang Theory" coming right up...
I'm still never going to love this show remotely as much as the one that follows it, but fair is fair: I laughed louder and longer at the robot crashing through the door and frightening Penny than I did at anything in last night's "How I Met Your Mother."
Wolowitz has always been the show's most problematic character, the easiest one to point to in the debate over whether the show laughs with or at the nerds and say that the answer is "at." This episode was obviously an attempt to humanize him, and while I appreciate the effort, the execution felt thin -- not quite A Very Special "Big Bang Theory," but not far.
Now, I have a very high standard for this type of episode. There's an amazing episode of "Taxi" where the Danny DeVito character -- an obnoxious bully whose come-ons are every bit as frequent and gross as Howard's -- finally goes too far with the Marilu Henner character when she catches him peeping on her getting changed in the locker room. She threatens to have him fired unless he can humiliate himself in front of her the same way he made her feel. So he tells her this long, mortifying story about the shopping trip he takes every year to the Husky Boys section of the department store, which is the only place that has clothes his size. And by the end of it, you understand why he's such an ass, and she understands it too, and while she never forgives him for his disgusting behavior after that, she now lets it roll off her back because she's gotten a glimpse of what's behind the creepy facade. It's an amazing episode -- changing not only her, but the audience's, perception of the guy -- and one that has an emotional of truth to it that the comparable Howard-Penny scene didn't.
Obviously, it's not fair to compare "Big Bang Theory" to one of the best sitcoms ever made. This is a much lighter, sillier show, one that's sometimes funny, sometimes not. I suppose I should give the writers some credit for making an effort to show a different side of Wolowitz, but the execution didn't do much for me, and I imagine I'll still be annoyed by him in future episodes.
What did everybody else think?