In a departure from the traditional "fifth wheel" episodes where Raj laments his singlehood as the others couple-off, this 22 minutes of Big Bang had Raj playing puppetmaster and running the others all over the places on a nerdy scavenger hunt. Rivalries form, bonds are made and broken. Neil Diamond is sung way more than he needs to be. There will not be a quiz on this later, but let's review anyhow...
So Raj is upset because the gang blew off his last murder mystery party. Apparently there have been a lot of them and they're a real drag. He comes up with another idea - an obscure reference geek-friendly scavenger hunt - and everyone's in.
I don't think they did as much with this concept as they could. For one, we got another episode right off with Penny and Sheldon paired up, and not much new and exciting happened.
Then we had Bernadette as the over-competitive caricature which wasn't too funny (and the "I made that up..." thing was predictable, wasn't it?) We've seen this characterization of the person who gets crazy over competition before. And when Howard asked Amy "Have you never played a game with her before?" and Amy said no-- that was just one of those suspend your disbelief moments.
Speaking of those two...
While Howard and Amy bonding over Neil Diamond was funny - and the actors sold the heck out of it-- it wasn't funny five or six times. And since - as was noted- those two hardly ever hang together, there seems like they could have done something else or more. Neil should have been the start not the entirety of their bonding experience.
Another gripe? The clues should have been more inventive and funny. The ones we saw weren't either of those things, really, and the ones we didn't see, well, we didn't get to see them. Raj's surprise ending was cute but not really worth the 22 minutes it took to get there.
Funny things were present, though. This is Big Bang after all. Howard and Amy's singalong (the first few times...). Stuart with his comical lamenting of always being left out. Sheldon and his laundry. Raj and his smoke maker and then his smoking jacket. And I did like how Raj wasn't the sadsack this time, but the initiator of the mayhem.
I'm not saying this was a bad episode, but definitely under-cooked. They didn't push their concept to the comic limit, or at least out of the predictable.
Oh! And one last thing. I'm no scientist, and I'm sure scientists have joking rivalries about their different universities, and Sheldon thinks everyone is stupider than he is. But do scientists really make fun of Princeton as some kind of second-tier school? I mean, Sheldon would, but Howard- who isn't even a PhD? They hit that one a little too much last night.
Anyhow, let's bang out again together next week. Thanks for reading!