By Josh Axelrod
“The Big Bang Theory” is the ultimate comfort food. With every episode, you can always expect to chuckle a lot, laugh out loud a few times and just have fun with these group of nerds and their unbelievably patient significant others. Episodes like the “The First Pitch Insufficiency” perfectly capture what this show is at its core: Inoffensive comedy that doesn’t require much brain power, but still rewards those willing to stick with its episode-long jokes.
This week, we had two main storylines: Howard training to throw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Angels game, and a double date between Lenny and Shamy. It’s worth mentioning that Raj and his new girlfriend Emily have been non-presences in the first three episodes of this season. Sure, he’s still always good for the occasional one-liner. But I want to see more of him and his insanely pretty girlfriend.
Both storylines were given pretty equal billing, but the A-story was probably Howard’s struggle with athletics. This episode reminded me that it’s always been the girls on this show (with the exception of Amy) who know anything about sports. Penny’s Nebraska roots made her a huge college football fan, and apparently Bernadette played a lot of softball. Her impression of the way Howard runs was probably the highlight of this episode.
Howard was emasculated at just about every turn. First, it was by Bernadette, who just wanted him to “throw the damn ball!” Then by this astronaut buddy Mike, who still calls him “Fruitloops” and was extremely unhelpful when it came to pitching advice. And finally, by the entire crowd at the Angels game where his plan to use the Mars rover for the pitch backfired spectacularly.
The double date wasn’t quite as funny, but yielded some surprisingly dramatic moments. The very idea that Sheldon could think his relationship is healthier than Leonard and Penny’s is hilarious. I fully expected him to say “bazooka” after that line, but as the episode went on, he actually backed up his theory about him and Amy with scientific proof.
This led to one of the more legitimate freakouts that Penny and Leonard have had as a couple. The two have almost nothing in common. Is that going to cause problems later in their marriage? Usually I think Penny is overreacting when she questions her relationship with Leonard. But this time, she voiced a real concern that, luckily, Leonard was able to smooth over by assuring her that any challenge they face, they’ll face together. Awwwwwwwwwww.
This wasn’t the funniest “Big Bang” episode ever and nothing of earth-shattering importance happened. But it was amusing enough, featured a surprising amount of physical comedy (courtesy of Howard’s pitching skills) and had a fulfilling dramatic subplot as well. Season 8 appears to be keeping the status quo for “Big Bang” intact, which frankly is fine by me.
Side note: Maybe this is just me, but I find it much less difficult to take Penny seriously now with the short hair. Maybe it’s because she looks a little like Claire Underwood from “House of Cards” now, but it’s much easier to believe this new, slightly less ditzy Penny would be hanging out with this group of weirdos. Random observation, carry on.