Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Big Bang Theory, "The Excelsior Acquisition": One angry Sheldon

Last night's "Big Bang Theory" had its moments (primarily, for this comic book fanboy, Raj's endless rant about Stan Lee's penchant for goofy character names). Overall, though, it felt like one of those episodes the show will do on occasion where the writers try to figure out which old sitcom trope might be funny if they insert Sheldon into it. And Sheldon's day in court/jail had a rough draft feel to it, as if the idea of putting him in those settings had been satisfying enough for everyone involved. I hope when Sheldon inevitably delivers a breach baby in an elevator next season, there's a bit more polish.

Still, Stan Lee seemed more convincing as himself than he did in either "Mallrats" or that "Who Wants to Be a Super-Hero?" reality show he did.

What did everybody else think?


Michael said...

Back on January 15, Bill Prady crowdsourced a question on Twitter, asking "Lawyer question: what's name of principle in law that allows U 2 break law to save life/property, i.e. break into house for shelter"

At the time I couldn't think of how that was going to be used. That was three days before the location shoot in the roller rink.

On the 22nd (the day before the Haiti benefit) he wrote "At the #bigbangtheory runthru I offered @smilinstanlee a seat and he took it. I told him I would tweet the event."

They shot this episode on the 27th, here's a photo of Stan from the shoot.

Was it just me or did Stan seem kind of dickish in his scene?

PhDelicious said...

Overall I was disappointed by this episode. I thought the show started out pretty strong thanks to Raj and the people of ThinkGeek, but it all went downhill from the introduction of the summons. From that point on the episode returned to the early days of "The Big Bang Theory" when the writers weren't sure how to handle Sheldon and didn't yet realize that significant a portion of their audience would rather laugh with him than at him.

I've heard many people comment on the lack of consistent characterization on the show and excuse it because of the need to play for laughs. For me the problem is that recently the characterization has been consistently moving in a direction that makes me cringe. These guys are supposed to be a group of best friends, but when was the last time one of them truely helped out another? And if that's not bad enough most of the time we see Penny she is complaining or pandering to Leonard.

Where is the funny? Rubbing Sheldon's nose in the fact that he didn't get to meet an icon because he got in trouble while helping Penny isn't funny. Penny repeatedly carping on how broke she is isn't funny. Restraining orders aren't funny. Or maybe its just me.

Unknown said...

Yep - the hole thing was very "sitcomish" I think BUT I laughed a lot.

Sitcoms from the olden days would've had Sheldon in jail for the majority of the episode- I thought they timed this one just right.

And yes it was normally totally lame sitcom stuff but Raj's shirt was really funny.

Anthony Strand said...

I didn't see the episode. I follow the show on DVD. But I had a secret hope that - because we've only ever seen him in DC-related t-shirts - Sheldon would be unimpressed to meet Stan Lee.

Yes, I realize that the shirts are there because BBT is a WB production and Warner owns DC Comics, but it makes sense. Sheldon's logical to a fault. Of course he's going to prefer DC's straight-forward science heroism to Marvel's angsty teenage soap operas.

Did they touch on this at all, or am I just a nerd?

Jimmy said...

Alan - I think part of your disappointment may be you're just not a huge BBT fan.

Big Bang Theory is what it is, similar in many ways to Two and a Half Men.

People who appreciate the show for what it is, enjoyed this episode. People who want it to be more were not as happy.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, Jimmy, I'm perfectly capable of loving Big Bang. I put it on my Top 20 of 2009 list ahead of a bunch of other shows I'm often accused of being more in the tank for. When it's good, it's damned good. This was just a mediocre episode.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Did they touch on this at all, or am I just a nerd?

You're a nerd (but so am I), and no, they didn't touch on it. The closest they came was Sheldon wanting to ask Stan Lee to autograph an issue of Batman, just so he'd be the only person in the world with a Stan Lee-autographed issue of Batman. But the stylistic differences between the two publishers didn't really come up.

Stealth said...

I stood up and cheered when Sheldon invoked the Sixth Amendment to argue against his ticket-by-camera, so the courtroom scene was worth it for me.

Sheldon's writing Penny's dialogue was another highlight.

Whiskey said...

loved Raj's shirt, the rest of it was m'eh for me but we're not regular BBT viewers. Stan Lee was the draw for us to watch last night and it didn't really feel like they used him well.

Also Alan, I hate that I'm picking on you two days in a row but it's breech baby, not breach. And I sincerely hope they never write that episode!

Dave T said...

Restraining orders aren't funny.

The joke was that he has not one, but two - and that he considers them to be an autograph collection.

(What kind of word-verification is "hyljzyg"?!)

Anonymous said...

The traffic court scene was dead on. It is mere formality really and like Wolowitz I knew Sheldon would end up in jail since the court wouldn't be like his friends and just let him his usual belittling self.

The episode actually reminded me of the episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun when the gang met Mark Hamill - "Where is your Chewbacon now Mark Hamill..."

It was an enjoyable effort and I really didn't see much wrong with it as others have.

I guess I'm a cheap date...

CEK said...

Based on reviews here, I've watched 3 or 4 episodes and can't get past how generically sitcommy it seems, both in jokes and in presentation. I don't know if there has been a single punchline I've not seen coming. And the laugh track is just terribly hacky.

That said, the writers know their comics. Anyone notice the judge's nameplate? "J. Kirby."

Allison DeWitt said...

There were funny parts , but I think I expected more.

I thought the court scene was classic Sheldon but for me, the judge part could have been used more effectively. And I thought Stan lee came off as very dickish which may be accurate but wasn't very funny.

.. Sheldon would be unimpressed to meet Stan Lee.

That would have been funnier as would a scene with Sheldon explaining to Lee how his signature on a Batman comic would be a unique, historical event.

Sheldon snapping to his senses by the stainless toilet inthe jail cell was funny. As was Penny trying to guess who Stan Lee was. A start with "Star Trek" is always a good bet.

lizriz said...

This was a week where I started wondering when the last time we saw a geeky woman on this show was...

But I enjoyed the scene in the comic store with Penny & Stuart, and Raj was very funny this week. I do wish there'd been a little more something something with Penny & Sheldon. In someways it felt like we needed more than could fit in this episode.

Unknown said...

Loved, LOVED that Sheldon took one look at the "toilet" and wanted to apologize immediately. Sheldon will always choose comfort over principles. I'm a Marvel Comics fan, teen angst and all - Stan Lee is always a pleasure, no matter where he shows up. Need to remember to get the Empire's March as a ringtone for my my iphone...do you think that's appropriate for a wedding planner?

Craig Ranapia said...

These guys are supposed to be a group of best friends, but when was the last time one of them truely helped out another?

Personally, I'm wondering how they can stand being around each other for any length of time -- apart from the fact that there wouldn't be a show. :)

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice the judge's nameplate? "J. Kirby."

What about it?

Abhimanyu said...

Again, it really bothers me just how incredibly incompatible Penny is with Leonard. It's all right for two people not to be interested in the same things but she seems to have this really condescending attitude toward everything Leonard likes and clearly doesn't make the first effort to even try to understand any of it. And the fact that she's played as rather boring and unintelligent 95% of the time makes me wonder about their relationship. The show would have been SO much better if the two of them had even an iota of chemistry, let alone coming off as being in love.

Also, more laughing at the pathetic comic book store guy spending nights with cats that don't show up. They really milk the whole 'fanboys are sad' routine some episodes.

Henry said...

Now that I'm re-watching it, I still think the Law & Order clank clank is pretty funny, especially since the guys laugh at it too. I hope the writers bring back the music shirt.

Henry said...

Oh, so glad that people also noticed that the name of the judge is "J. Kirby." I couldn't stop laughing at that either.

Anonymous, 5:31PM: J. Kirby is very likely a nod to Jack Kirby, the artist who worked alongside Stan Lee for many of Marvel's more famous comics.

Pamela Jaye said...

>the hole thing was very "sitcomish"

what hole thing?

loved the ep

Pamela Jaye said...

I'm actually not watching the show because it's "better than sitcoms" - I'm watching it for the same reason I started to watch Chuck: it's about nerds.
Granted, I prefer computer nerds to physics nerds, and I'm not a comic book/sci-fi/fantasy fan, but there is still enough to relate to.

I do hope there is no elevator delivery but if there was, it sure wouldn't be in their building, and since we are here - why hasn't Sheldon ever complain about the elevator?

forg/jecoup said...

lizriz said...
This was a week where I started wondering when the last time we saw a geeky woman on this show was...

Bernadette, Howard's girlfriend is geeky and she showed up two episodes ago.

But Leslie Winkle, the ultra geeky girl has been MIA this season

These guys are supposed to be a group of best friends, but when was the last time one of them truely helped out another?

Personally, I'm wondering how they can stand being around each other for any length of time -- apart from the fact that there wouldn't be a show. :)

To those wondering how those 4 could tolerate each other it is simply because they have the same interests in playing videogames, comic books, sci-fi stuff, their personality clashes but when they do their geeky habits they enjoy each other's company. With the kind of personality they have they would really find it hard to mingle with other people so they treasure the friendship they have now.

When Sheldon and Leonard's aparment was robbed a couple of episode, Raj and Howard helped them with a new "security" feature. They help each other out willingly at times.

I enjoyed the episode, love the court scene all the Raj scenes
And I think that this episode had a callback from a previous episode (Penny getting injured with Sheldon helping her). You know that this kind of sitcom is self-contained and sometimes each episode seems unrelated with another episode so it's a nice touch to have a reference from a previous episode.

What I want the show to discuss is Penny's acting career or her attempt to have one. It would be cool if they have an episode where she would be a guest star or extra on a TV show or a TV commercial

crackblind said...

Actually, I liked the fact that Stan Lee was played more "realistically." I can see him getting fed up by a fanboy ringing his doorbell. He's always shown as this kindly old man giving out sage advice. Having a real reaction to Sheldon at his door was part of the joke. Also, my younger son loves playing "Spot Stan Lee" in the Marvel movies (he's in all of them).

Also loved the shirt (I lost it at the L&O clank). Then again, my 11 year old's ringtone on my phone is the Imperial Death March, something he's very proud of.

Rogers Cadenhead said...

Raj wasn't ranting about Stan Lee's penchant for "goofy" names. It was alliterative names that set him off.

Lee did it because he would confuse the names of his characters otherwise, since he was writing so many comics.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alliterative names are inherently goofy, whether it's Pepper Potts or all the double-L's in Superman's life.

lizriz said...

I guess it doesn't take long for me to be missing the geeky women - It took me a year and a half to start watching this show because it was about 4 geeky guys and a pretty girl. That said, they've had some great geeky female characters. I loved the doctor Leonard dated.

And on that note, I've just been assuming that they're building to a Leonard / Penny breakup. Clearly, she should be with Sheldon.