“The Big Bang Theory” returned for its eighth season on its new night with a special two-episode premiere. Television’s highest rated show may not be the most original, or even the funniest comedy out there, but even eight years in it continues to be a harmless enjoyment with more than a couple good ‘banzingas’ sprinkled throughout.
At the end of season 7, Penny and Leonard got engaged, Raj began his first serious relationship with Emily (Laura Spencer), and after giving up String Theory, Sheldon goes on a train journey to try and find himself. The first episode in “Big Bang’s” premiere double-header, “The Locomotion Interruption,” kicks off with Sheldon on his travels, and homage to a fellow TV scientist from the last few years.
The episode begins with Sheldon in his underwear, harkening back to “Breaking Bad” and Walter White, when we first met the chemistry teacher turned meth dealer in the show’s pilot in his underwear. Sheldon isn’t going into the meth business; rather his pants were stolen, along with all his other possessions in Arizona. After getting picked up by the police, he calls Leonard to come and get him. Leonard and Amy, who isn’t thrilled that Sheldon called Leonard and not her, head off to pick him up.
On the drive back, Sheldon reveals that he didn’t call Amy because he didn’t want her to think less of him after he experienced what he believes is a failure. Amy assures him that that doesn’t matter to her, but in classic Sheldon fashion, he isn’t able to correctly process this sincere moment. He takes it as an insult and contemplates breaking up with Amy. He of course doesn’t.
Back in Pasadena, Penny prepares for a job interview as a Pharmaceutical saleswoman with Bernadette’s company. The interview, predictably, goes horrible, but when she admits her fear of letting Bernadette down, the interviewer, (Stephen Root), and reveals he shares that fear and the two bond over that.
The other main storyline was with Howard and Stuart (Kevin Sussman), who has been caring for Howard’s mother. Stuart has moved in despite his work being done and Howard is uncomfortable with the relationship between Stuart and his mother. This is definitely the weakest element of the episode – the story works for the characters, but it wasn’t funny.
- Sheldon was lucky to escape Arizona without getting arrested as he continually pesters the officer assigned to his case by referencing Sherlock Holmes.
- Penny is nervous about a job, knowing this is something that she doesn’t know anything about. Bernadette tells her there aren’t jobs at the ‘sit on the couch and wear yoga pants factory.’
- Howard relates the Stuart situation to him sleeping with Raj’s mother, Raj answers ‘she’s in a failed marriage, I give you my blessing.’
- Sheldon asks if Amy can cover her ears so he can confide in Leonard, when she does he tells Leonard that he ‘wants to make coitus with Amy’ when they get back. Amy gives no reaction, and Sheldon reveals that it was just a test to make sure she wasn’t listening.
- Kaley Cuoco’s pixie cut was a big topic of conversation when images were first revealed, and the show didn’t miss an opportunity to comment on it. Upon his return to the apartment, and saying how he has become a stronger person, once Sheldon see’s Penny’s hair he can’t take it and storms out of the apartment.
Episode 2, “The Junior Professor Solution,” was the stronger of the two episodes. Regina King returned to her role as the head of human resources at the university as she meets with Sheldon and tells him that he can move on from String Theory by promoting him to Junior Professor. Sheldon reacts to this raise in money, the choice of his own field of study, and the ability to impart his knowledge to budding scientists just how would you suspect he would – by being insulted by it.
After Leonard, Howard and Raj convince him that he already has all the basic traits of a teacher – grading and constantly correcting them – he actually gets excited for it. However, due to his reputation for being obnoxious, no one signs up for his class. Howard says that he will sign up for the class, as he is looking to get his doctorate. Sheldon laughs at the idea, thinking that Howard isn’t able to comprehend anything that he can teach, but once Howard proves he has the prerequisite knowledge Sheldon agrees to take him on.
Despite Howard’s ability to handle the subject matter, Sheldon relentlessly searches for something to stump him with. Howard isn’t going to take Sheldon’s lack of respect, telling him if he is going to be a bad teacher, he will be a bad student, ending with a spit wad into Sheldon’s mouth. Leonard reveals that Sheldon may simply be afraid to meet someone who could possibly be as smart as him and he is forced to face that when Howard ends up stumping him with an engineering question. The guys patch it all up though when they ask each other questions with the reward of candy.
Elsewhere, Penny and Bernadette aren’t thrilled with each other as they disagree about how Penny should be preparing for her new job. Benefiting from this is Amy, who finds herself sought out by both Penny and Bernadette to vent about the other. Amy relishes in finally having this typical high school relationship, and attempts to make the most of it, but Penny and Bernadette make-up before she truly can.
- When Bernadette wants Penny to be a teacher’s pet at her new job, Leonard asks who had been hurt by being a teacher’s pet? They all raise their hands. Sheldon adds, “It’s like the rest of the class wanted the teacher to forget the quiz.”
- After the spit wad incident, Sheldon has Leonard check his uvula, worried it has an STD – “it doesn’t feel as innocent as it used too.”
- Amy is doing pleasure studies to a starfish, for whatever reason, but it’s all worth it when she talks dirty to it.
Solid start to “Big Bang,” but we still need to find out more about Leonard and Penny’s impending marriage, Raj’s relationship with Emily and hopefully some more great cameos from nerd pop-culture.
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