Fall TV 2014

Conflict And Comedy Abound In ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Episode “The Junior Professor Solution”

Sam Rivman ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Junior Professor Solution." Photo Credit: Michael Ansell/CBS.
Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Junior Professor Solution.” Photo Credit: Michael Ansell/CBS.

“The Junior Professor Solution” was a chock full of conflict, which always leads to excellent comedy on The Big Bang Theory. One of the best components of the show is the truly deep friendship that the characters share, because it allows for argumentation without any lasting bitterness and venom. In a very similar fashion to the characters on Friends, the characters on The Big Bang Theory always quarrel in a civilized way without jeopardizing their friendships. When the argumentation flirts with disaster rather than diving into it head first, it is much easier to laugh and enjoy the moment, which is exactly what episode two of season eight did correctly.

The episode begins with a dispute between Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) over Penny’s reluctance to prepare for the job as a pharmaceutical rep that Bernadette worked to make available to her. Any time Bernadette is angry is usually quite funny,  because she is somehow able to scare just about everybody despite being roughly the size of a plushie. The scene also worked well in showing that despite Penny’s admirable progress in terms of maturing, she is still the lazy woman that viewers have come to love for her laid back attitude.

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Melissa Rauch in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Junior Professor Solution." Photo Credit: Michael Ansell/CBS.
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and Melissa Rauch in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Junior Professor Solution.” Photo Credit: Michael Ansell/CBS.

When Amy (Mayim Bialik) is pushed into the center of the conflict by her friends, she couldn’t be happier, as she finally feels as though she is an integral part of the gossip she missed out on in high school. Her reaction escalates the comedy, because it is the opposite of what would be expected in such a tense situation. The integration of Amy into the conflict maintains a certain levity for the viewers, as she prevents the argument from becoming too aggravated with her giddy attitude. The fact that Amy was able to enjoy the argument for the petty squabble that it was made it easy to enjoy it as well.

Howard (Simon Helberg) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) are perhaps the two characters most often at odds with each other through out the entire series. The second episode of season eight does nothing to change that perception, as the two are once again at each other’s throats. Sheldon, having returned from his adventure around the country, returns to the university and is offered a job as a junior professor. Sheldon accepts, but when no one signs up for his class, Howard offers to enroll.

Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory episode "The Junior Professor Solution." Photo Credit: Michael Ansell/CBS.
Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory episode “The Junior Professor Solution.” Photo Credit: Michael Ansell/CBS.

It feels good when the constantly ridiculed Howard gets a bit of payback on the ever egotistical and condescending Sheldon, but such was not the case in this episode, which was a bit disappointing. Howard believed he was finally able to stump Sheldon on an engineering question, but it turns out that what Howard thought was a pause of indecisiveness was actually a pause to cough up a spit ball which he had fired at Sheldon earlier. That’s not to say that Howard should come out the victor every time, but it still feels wrong when Sheldon actually proves his mostly fantasized mental superiority over poor Howard. Despite the let down, it was victory enough to watch Howard annoy Sheldon to no end by putting in earphones and singing in his face. Watching Howard really put his foot down and stand up for himself was refreshing and just goes to prove that he doesn’t need a PhD to compete with Sheldon.

Overall, episode two of season eight was enjoyable and an excellent follow up to the premiere. Getting to see both consecutively rather than having to wait a week in between was just icing on the cake, and a valid tactic to build audience interest quickly.

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