February 11, 2011

The Big Bang Theory Recap: The Benefactor Factor

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As much as I love delving into the meat of a story, I can always appreciate the non-relevant conversations that eventually segue into the problem at hand. Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Sheldon (Jim Parsons), Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) are in the midst of discussing how vampires shave if they don’t have reflections, when they’re informed by the president of the university that they must attend a fundraising dinner for their research. Given that last week’s episode was a tough act to follow, I still enjoyed their attempts at sucking up to rich, old people. Leonard, whose appearance has been generally lacking lately, steps up to drive most of the plot which centers around Ms. Latham (Jessica Walters from Arrested Development and Archer).

Sheldon: Well, groomed vampires meet in pairs and shave each other; case closed.

Even with the pressure imposed by the president, Sheldon refuses to go to the banquet for his own silly reasons. At the banquet, Leonard and pals meet Ms. Latham and attempt to convince her to recognize the worth of their research, but to no avail. Jessica Walters must be channeling from her characters from her other shows because she appears just as authoritative and controlling. Meanwhile, Sheldon gets a lecture from Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) that awakens his latent fears, that his friends are too incompetent to ever obtaining donations for their research. He arrives at the banquet only to have the president prohibit any more of his banquet attendances the next day.

Amy Farrah Fowler: If your friends are unconvincing, this year’s donations might go to the geology department.

Sheldon: O dear me no, not the dirt people!

Amy Farrah Fowler: Or worse, it could go to the Liberal Arts.

Sheldon: No.

The story then takes an unexpected and awkward twist when Ms. Latham requests a private dinner with Leonard to talk about his research. One thing leads to another, and Leonard understands that, to get the donation money, he’ll have to provide Ms. Latham with sexual favors. Rather than getting an expected reaction of disgust, Sheldon eggs him on in hopes of getting a cryogenic centrifugal pump: “Come now Leonard, this might be your only chance to make a real contribution to science!” Leonard gives into going on another date with her in order to make his claim for his research, but finds out that donations will be made regardless of his interest in her.  Ms. Latham, however, makes the valid point: “How do you think I landed such a rich husband … Yep, I’m that good.” Leonard relents and is forced to make the walk of shame the next morning in the face of a smug Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and an ecstatic Sheldon.

Sheldon: An entire dinner to talk about your research? Where are you going, the drive thru at the Jack in the Box?

While the episode didn’t top “The Thespian Catalyst,” it was still great to see Leonard in a prominent role and Sheldon in prime form. Even Penny had a few good one liners, like the book she bought for Sheldon to help him understand common euphemisms. Even though this episode didn’t break any boundaries in creativity, it manages to hold up in quality in the fourth season.

Original Author: Andrew Ebanks