May 4, 2014

May the 4th Be With You: A Star Wars Day Review of The Big Bang Theory's Star Wars Day Episode

Clever of The Big Bang Theory's writers to pen a Star Wars Day episode, wasn't it? Would have been even more clever if it actually aired today, but then again, like many viewers, I'm sure, I watched on days after the original airing anyway.

"The Proton Transmogrification" brought back Bob Newhart in his role as "Professor Proton." While his lines didn't quite keep up with TBBT's quick pace, the 85-year-old actor proves that he's still got it when it comes to effective comedic delivery. Unfortunately, this may be the last we'll see of Newhart on the show, since this episode focused on his death (and subsequent Obi-Wan Kenobi-eqsue reappearance.) Of course, the character's demise was not in vain, as it served as a device for the character development of Sheldon Cooper, who grieved his hero's death in his own way.

Sad to say, though, what disappointed me most in the episode was seeing one of the other characters grow very little. Is it just me, or does Penny become more of a brat with every passing episode? She no longer merely makes fun of the nerdy interests of the "boys," but also expresses an unattractive anger at herself for her own participation in their interests. Sure, Penny's had her moments - like her accidental I love you - but this season, I sense an unfortunate stagnation in her character growth. Or worse, alongside characters making meaningful changes, Penny has simply become a caricature of all the worst aspects of the girl next door trope.

Meanwhile, the Star Wars references continued throughout the episode in what I found to be a perfect combination of homage and teasing. After all, you need to get in a few jabs at Jar-Jar on any Star Wars Day. I particularly liked the abundance of Star Wars apparel, the funny, punny names for the gang's Star Wars themed fare, and the mention of the recently viral "machete order" of marathoning the films.

Other than the aforementioned character development problem, The Big Bang Theory gave us a great Star Wars Day, and I'm hoping this holiday - and maybe even Sheldon's new Obi-Wan - returns in some of the many future seasons TBBT  has already secured.

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