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The Big Bang Theory: The Proton Transmogrification

“Your heart might be in the right place, but your head, chest, and arms certainly aren’t.”

In the week that J.J. Abrams announced the cast for the latest installment(s) of the revered Star Wars saga, it seems apt that our four guys are planning out their May the Fourth celebrations. Wrapped up in this all important event was one that proved to be even more important than watching “goofy science movies… seen hundreds of times.”

I love watching these four guys completely geek out. All the discussion around the order in which to watch the six movies had me laughing out loud. Not to mention Admiral Ackbar’s Snack Bar with its R2-Decaf, Cafe au Leia, and Chai Tea-3PO. The writers on this show are good at what they do.

I also love the way the girls do their own celebrating of this all important day. The Death Star cake is a thing of beauty. It is also a great way of showing that the girls, while they may not always understand or appreciate those things their significant others do, will support them.

We also got some interesting character development from listening to Bernadette and Amy talk about how they became interested in science. Of course, both reasons are comical (“I took out a book on biology to see what whores did” and “I thought I could invent a formula that would make me taller”), but in a field with far too few women, does it finally matter? We all know that these two are very good at their jobs.

I have made no secret of the fact that I have doubts about the long term prospects of Leonard and Penny as a couple. In this episode, however, they were simply lovely together. When they are alone, they bring out the best in each other and Professor Proton’s funeral was another example.

Penny wants to cry; Leonard is the emotional one. He needs to start crying before Penny can. Although the scene was funny, it was also poignant. Leonard is helping Penny to access feelings I get the impression are long buried. Penny, on the other hand, is able to help Leonard laugh, even at himself.

Similarly, the proposal was hilarious, but very sweet. It’s interesting that Leonard says that one of his regrets is saying no to Penny when she proposed. Yet, he realizes that they are not ready to be engaged. He teases her, because he can, but he knows what the reality of the situation is. When he says to her “I love you, but no, I will not marry you,” the feelings are real and I believe him.

But, finally, this was Sheldon’s episode. This poor guy has lost all the father figures in his life and Professor Proton is another one who is now gone. Sheldon cannot process the loss in any way, choosing to retreat into the known and the safe rather than face yet another funeral of someone he loved.

What he really wants and really needs is his own Obi-Wan. He needs someone, a father figure, to show him the way. Bob Newhart is hilarious, but fulfills the role that Sheldon needs and helps him see that he is surrounded by people who love him. He wastes no time in taking the good advice and hugs Leonard in a scene that brought me to tears.

A final note. The line that made me laugh out loud, even the third time through the episode: “Yeah, Howard, I think you of all people should avoid espousing the principle that if something is not our favorite we should just get rid of it.” Again, three cheers for the writers.

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


  1. Definitely an excellent episode. I've noticed that whenever Sheldon achieves some personal growth, it's usually a very good episode. Which says a lot about the talent of Jim Parsons, whose character could easily be a caricature.

    Lovely review, Chris.

  2. I just wanted to point out that I am a total Star Wars/Star Trek nerd and it would be interesting to have at least some female sci-fi nerds on the show. One of my favourite parts was Penny starting to nerd out and being surprised that she knew what she knew. Thanks for the review. It was lovely.

  3. drnanamom, that is one of my biggest frustrations with this show, much as I like it. They've managed to include some female science geeks, but why must all three of the girls actively dislike all SFF? Where are the female movie/book/TV geeks? And why can't we have some pop culture geeks who aren't scientists? (OK, I might basically be saying I want a character based on me here...)

  4. During the episode, Raj mentions watching Star Wars in the Machette order - starting with 4 and 5, going back to 2 and 3, and then finishing with 6. I ran across the following article several months ago that explains the rationale behind the order.


    I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds intriguing.

    And for Juliette, there's Stewart (the non-scientist pop culture geek) and Raj's brief girlfriend Lucy (the girl who was hanging out at a comic book store when Raj met her).

    As for Professor Proton, everytime Sheldon was talking to his "force ghost" I kept thinking "he's not really dead, as long as you remember him." Then I'd realize that's a Star Trek quote and that I was mixing up my series.


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