“The Hofstadter Insufficiency” (S7, E1) – The Big Bang Theory
Sheldon: I own nine pairs of pants.
Penny: Okay, that’s a good start. But I was thinking something a bit more personal.
Sheldon: Oh, okay … I own nine pairs of underpants.
You have to hand it to Penny.
She knows what Sheldon is like and yet she plows gamely on, believing that this time things will be different.
I know they say that one of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome but I like to think that Penny, who tried to engage Sheldon in some heart to heart discussion in the opening episode of The Big Bang Theory‘s 7th season is simply a hopeless friendship romantic, believing that sooner or later Sheldon has to crack and engage like a real person.
But as we all know, and Penny eventually admits to herself, Sheldon, who comes perilously close to actually admitting to missing Leonard, who’s far away in the North Sea and partying hard, is not like everyone else:
Penny: I get it, I get it. You’re an emotionless robot.
Sheldon: Well, I try.
The fact they have this somewhat kinda sorta deep and meaningful conversation at all, stillborn though it is from the get go let’s be honest, is that they’re missing Leonard, something Penny readily admits to, and Sheldon can’t bring himself to acknowledge.
At one point, he knocks on Penny’s door in the middle of the night, fresh from a terrible nightmare in which Leonard is abducted overboard from his faraway research ship by a Kraken while taking a phone call from Sheldon who accuses him of putting the DVDs for Back to the Future 2 and 3 in the wrong cases (a horror of a thought indeed! OK only to Sheldon), and suggests that a bemused Penny may like some company, giving how badly she’s missing her boyfriend.
Thinking they have bonded somewhat, and desperately missing her guy, she attempts to bond still further, which really doesn’t go far but certainly provides a lot of laughs as Sheldon ducks, and weaves, verbally parrying and thrusting in an attempt to avoid admitting to anything other than the fact that changes on one particular social media sharing site left him traumatised:
Sheldon: A while ago YouTube changed from a star-based rating system to a thumbs-up rating system. I pretend I’m okay with this, but I’m not.
Fresh from a soul-revealing revelation of her own, Penny dismisses this as not important and gets up to go to bed till a clearly incensed Sheldon stops her, insisting that she might think it’s a trivial admission but it really does upset him.
So maybe it wasn’t as fruitless a task as we thought.
He may not share like normal earthlings but he does get upset, and since it’s the closest Penny will get to any sort of emotional revelation she apologises, give Sheldon a much-resisted hug (he simply wants a “hearty handshake”).
Elsewhere in the slightly less than satisfying but hardly unfunny B stories, Raj attends a post graduate student welcome party, ability to talk to women now very much in hand, with best pal Wolowitz as his wingman, hoping to find that new special someone to replace his tremulous frightened-of-the-world ex, Lucy.
Naturally it is a series of verbals near misses, and outright socially awkward disasters but Raj, initially in blissful in self-denial, is convinced that he and Casanova are soul buddies until some gentle probing from Wolowitz forces him to admit otherwise:
Raj: If you like dry, factual statement interspersed with awkward silence, it was bananas.
It’s not looking too good, especially after a devastatingly messy encounter with one Mrs Davis, whose husband recently left her for a hot undergrad, until he apologises to her, resulting in a semi-kind of “moment” with her where she asks if he’s hitting on her:
Raj: If I were hitting on you, you would know it because you would be feeling uncomfortable and a little sad for me.
It’s not quite true love and Raj knows it but he’s seems a little more upbeat by the end of the evening so some progress at least is made.
It’s not quite as pleasant a night for Amy and Berandette, thrilled to be away at a work conference together and talking about science and not boys (something they blame Penny for).
That is until two unseen but geeky guys, who it later emerges look not unlike Sheldon and Wolowitz – an admission that greatly unsettles them both when they admit they’d have picked the man who was the polar opposite of their partner – buy them drinks.
Initially worrying that accepting the drinks comes with sexual conditions, Amy is relieved when Bernadette sets the two would be bar suitors straight about their relationship statuses, and excited about the potential for more gratuities (and thrilled that people are buying them drinks without wanting to get to Penny via them)
Amy: So I can drink this drink without giving up the goodies? … Maybe tomorrow morning we put on some hot pants and see if we could score us some free omelettes.
It’s funny, sweet and ultimately more than a little awkward between the two friends when Bernadette suggests and then retracts the idea that Amy could do better than Sheldon (with whom she has a hygiene-focused phone conversation while Bernadette has a love-dovey chitchat with her husband).
You get the feeling that any future getaways will feature Penny in tow, if only to break up the awkwardness.
THE VERDICT: A bright, funny and more than worthy start to the 7th season, even if the B stories are little undone.