Howard the Astronaut: Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki, and Jim Parsons

The gang skips work to play hooky at Disneyland and talk to junior high school kids in The Big Bang Theory‘s “The Contractual Obligation Implementation.” Nothing seems to go as planned, but Raj and Lucy find a way to have a real first date by picnicking in a library.

The Players:

  • Director: Mark Cendrowski
  • Writer: Chuck Lorre, Eric Kaplan, Steve Holland
  • Cast: Johnny Galecki, JimParsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Mayim Bialik, Melissa Rauch, Kate Micucci

Episode Title: “The Contractual Obligation Implementation”

Leonard enlists Howard and Sheldon’s help in a project to get more women involved in science. Sheldon suggests they talk to middle school age girls. Raj asks Amy, Bernadette, and Penny for help planning a date with Lucy that accounts for both their social phobias. Instead, the girls plan a skip-day to go to Disneyland. Raj and Lucy have a picnic in a library. When Leonard, Sheldon, and Howard’s talk at the school is disastrous, they call Bernadette and Amy to help give the classroom an honest perspective of women in science.

The Good:

  • Texting Date: We are still unsure about Lucy and her inclusion in the gang, but she brings out a new side to Raj. Their picnic in the library was incredible because we see a breakthrough in communication. Or rather, his lack thereof. He finds a non-alcoholic solution to talking to girls, and Lucy finds a way to meet him halfway. We’re willing to see where this goes.
  • One-Liners: The one-liners carried us through the episode. Where situational humor was lacking and social awkwardness is becoming cliche, Sheldon’s inability to show affection for others is still pulling the show along.

The So-So:

  • We Get It: Howard got picked on during his junior high school days. He gets pushed around as an adult when he visits. No one takes his space adventures seriously  Leonard’s rap turns into a whine session. Sheldon’s comments about Madame Curie make us cringe instead of smile. None of the girls in the classroom seem interested at all, which is somewhat unrealistic. The episode centered around this event, and it came to an unsatisfying conclusion. Even calling Bernadette and Amy couldn’t save them.
  • Women in Science: We do like that they approached the important topic of gender equality. It’s only fitting that they should apply it to the science career field. And airing only hours before International Women’s Day, we can appreciate the timing as well. Other than that, the idea held much more potential than was pulled out of it. The jokes about the glass ceiling and misogyny in video games is old news and nothing fresh or new was introduced to these revisited ideas.
  • Dress-Up: Bernadette’s fierceness is off-setting. The fact that she is so bossy to everyone around her makes her less fun. Why is Penny and Amy still hanging out with her at the park? She and Howard acting like Cinderella and Prince Charming is, however, ridiculous and well-played.
  • Parallel Worlds: We like the idea of the girls skipping work to go to Disneyland while the boys skip work to go speak to school students. The two trips parallel one another. Neither event goes as planned, and the interaction of the two groups is charmingly ironic. We find some humor in the paralleling of couples again this week, as well, with the princess outfits. However, usually Raj is included in this parallel and his absence is noticable.

The Quotes:

  • Howard: “C’mon. If I was any good at convincing women to do stuff, I wouldn’t have spent so much of my twenties in the shower.”
  • Leonard: “Helping women?” Sheldon: “Helping anyone. People should take care of themselves.”
  • Sheldon: “I believe in a gender blind society like in Star Trek. Where women and men of all races and creeds worked side-by-side as equals.” Leonard: “You mean where they were advanced enough to develop an interstellar warp drive, but a black lady still answered the space phone?”
  • Howard: “Last time I was here, I was a scrawny little nerd.” Leonard: “And, now, you’re also an astronaut.”
  • Bernadette: “We can’t all be Cinderella.” Amy: “Then, how do we decide?” Bernadette: “Well, it’s simple. This was my idea. I’m driving. I’m Cinderella. You bitches got a problem with that we can stop the car right now.”
  • Sheldon: “Hello, female children.”
  • Amy: “The world of science needs more women, but from an young age we girls are encouraged to care more about the way we look than the power of our minds.”
  • Bernadette: “Everyone of you has the capacity to be anything you want to be.” Penny: “Unless you want to be Cinderella.”
  • Raj: “I’m counting that as foreplay.”
  • Amy: “Sheldon … all Snow White needs is one small kiss to wake up.” Sheldon: “Heard you the first time.”

Overall:

“The Contractual Obligation Implementationcontains some great jokes here and there and brings up gender equality in the science world in a style suitable for The Big Bang Theory. However, we were generally unsatisfied with the outcome of the situations our characters are thrown into and the interactions of the gang as a whole.

The Rating: 7/10

The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

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