Quick spoilers for last night's "Big Bang Theory" coming up just as soon as I put on my yarmulke...
For the second week in a row, the Raj/Sheldon pairing paid good comic dividends, with Raj first enjoying Sheldon's superhuman card-counting powers and desire for vengeance on Wil Wheaton(*), then freaking out when Wheaton so successfully conned Sheldon in the final round. And so long as they had Raj point out that Acting Ensign Crusher wasn't part of "Wrath of Khan," it gave the writers license to keep putting Ricardo Montalban dialogue into Jim Parson's mouth.
(*) Wheaton, as you might expect, has a post on his blog about the episode, and I remain impressed by how this guy has gotten the Trekkers to do a complete 180 on him. Wesley Crusher was one of the most-despised characters in all of sci-fi fandom, but by embracing that hatred - and admitting that he, too, wasn't particularly fond of the part he was playing - and being whip-smart and funny about it all, Wheaton's now one of the more beloved alums from any of the "Star Trek" series. Well-played, Mr. Crusher.
Meanwhile, the Penny/Leonard/Howard subplot was one of the better Wolowitz stories of late, in that he wasn't a complete ass throughout. It's all too easy for the "Big Bang" writers to make Howard be an oblivious sleazebag, and/or a pathetic mama's boy, and to make him the butt of every joke - he's definitely the character most often standing on the wrong side of the line between Laughing With and Laughing At - and so it was nice to see a Howard story where he was still bumbling, but trying to be on his best behavior and failing (for a while) through no fault of his own.
Also, Kaley Cuoco nailed the moment where a post-coital Leonard starts trying to tell Penny about the deal he cut with Howard, and where Penny's mind understandably goes to the worst case scenario.
Finally, even though they no longer air back-to-back, I still tend to watch "How I Met Your Mother" consecutively with "Big Bang Theory" through the magic of DVRs, and it feels like the stylistic contrast between the two shows has never been greater. "HIMYM," as always, is packing 20 pounds of story into a 10-pound bag, with a whole lot of scenes and flashbacks and cutaways, where "BBT" seems far more streamlined, less interested in plot than in creating simple situations on which to hang a lot of punchlines. Neither approach is better than the other, and last night both shows were quite funny, but am I the only one who feels the two shows are heading in opposite directions in terms of density?
What did everybody else think?