Fall TV 2014RecapReviewTV

‘The Big Bang Theory’ Review/Recap: “The Focus Attenuation” Loses Focus

Sam Rivman ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Focus Attentuation." Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Focus Attentuation.” Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.

In the fifth episode of season eight, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) points out that Leonard (Johnny Galecki) has been distracted from his scientific studies ever since he began dating Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). The men then decide to take a weekend away from their women for some uninterrupted brainstorming while the women head to Vegas. While the episode established an interesting premise, it unfortunately fell flat, and felt like filler in between more meaty and meaningful episodes.

Despite normally being an incredibly high quality show, the one flaw that can occasionally bring down an episode is the structure of the plot, which usually centers around one running gag. The running gag of the average episode is hilarious, and in turn the episode is successful. Such is not the case this week, however, which really detracts from how entertaining the episode is as a whole. The reoccurring gag throughout “The Focus Attenuation” is the men trying to focus on science, and then getting derailed very easily.

The comedy felt a bit contrived, and it lost its appeal about halfway through the episode. It was irritating to watch such brilliant characters stoop down to the level of elementary students with the attention spans of goldfish. Part of what makes The Big Bang Theory such an excellent program is the distinction in intelligence between the show’s characters and the characters of other sitcom programs. When that intelligence fades away, the program becomes as ordinary as any other show on television. There are certain episodes in which the writers overplay the childish nature of the male characters, and this was one of them.

Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons and Simon Helberg in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Focus Attentuation." Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.
Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons and Simon Helberg in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Focus Attentuation.” Photo Credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros.

Luckily, the episode wasn’t a complete failure. “The Focus Attenuation” was at least partially redeemed by the drunken antics of Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik). The girls leave Penny alone in their hotel room to study while they paint Las Vegas red, and the results are hilarious. Drunk Amy has always been a crowd favorite, but Rauch doesn’t miss a beat in keeping up with Bialik. Penny has always been the wild and crazy one, so it was refreshing to see the female scientists let loose and get freaky.

Perhaps the highlight of the entire episode is the morning after Bernadette and Amy get inexcusably drunk at Penny’s expense. Penny prepares for the day, chipper from a night of sobriety, and flings open the blinds to purposely torture the very hungover Bernadette and Amy. Bernadette murmurs to Amy to close the drapes, and when Amy tries to oblige, she falls face first off of the bed. At the very least, despite being a rather boring episode, it ended on a positive note, which hopefully indicates that the next episode won’t be equally as lackluster.

The Big Bang Theory is an excellent show, but even the best of comedies occasionally have an unfunny episode. Hopefully the writers have shaken off the cobwebs and are prepared to deliver now that the season’s black sheep is out of the way.

Episode Grade: C

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