Last Thursday, the 100th episode of American sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ aired for the first time in the United Kingdom (yes, I know it aired in the States back in January, but hey, us Brits are slow). To coincide with this momentous event, I thought I’d take a look back at the top ten moments from the geek-friendly, underdog-championing comedy show that has made us all laugh, cry, cry with laughter and scratch our heads in googly-eyed bemusement; some of the show’s more scientific elements can be rather mind-boggling.
First broadcast in 2007, ‘The Big Bang Theory’ centres on four nerds and one non-nerd. The four nerds are as such: roommates Leonard Hofstadter (straight guy) and Sheldon Cooper (über-neurotic wannabe-supervillain), two physicists at the California Institute of Technology, and their pair of equally quirky buddies, womanising aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz (who lives with his mother) and Indian astrophysicist Rajesh “Raj” Koothrappali (who can only talk to women when intoxicated). The non-nerd of the show is workaday waitress and aspiring actress Penny, a blonde bombshell from Nebraska who one day moves into the apartment across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon; inevitable shenanigans ensue.
As created by Chucke Lorre and Bill Prady, the show has proven one of the most successful currently airing on CBS, or indeed on any channel. To its name it has dozens of award nominations and a fine number of wins, including both a thoroughly deserved Golden Globe and Emmy for leading actor Jim Parsons (Sheldon) last year. Now in its fifth season, the show is broadcast in over 70 countries worldwide, has assembled a vast and dedicated fanbase, and shows no signs of decreasing in popularity anytime soon. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top ten moments from the show’s five-year history, or at least according to lil ol’ me.
10. Teaching Penny Physics
Episode: “The Gorilla Experiment” – Season 3, Episode 10
In cruel comparison with her four egghead friends, Penny’s knowledge and insight into the scientific world could be said to be somewhat lacking. As such, when wishing to have a proper conversation with then-boyfriend Leonard about his work at the university, she seeks out Sheldon to teach her “a little physics.” Sheldon agrees, but perhaps he takes her request a tad too seriously…
9. Soft Kitty
Episode: “The Pancake Batter Anomaly” – Season 1, Episode 11
Sheldon and Penny again, this time in a scene that has been revisited several times throughout the show. In this episode, Sheldon, in spite of all his paranoid precautions, catches a cold and practically forces Penny to take care of him. In this scene, sniffle-nosed Sheldon is lying in bed and asks Penny to rub VapoRub on his chest (counter-clockwise) while singing the song his mother would sing to him whenever he got sick. Aww.
8. The Driving Simulation
Episode: “The Euclid Alternative” – Season 2, Episode 5
After irritating the gang while they all take turns driving him to work, Sheldon is pressured into getting a driving license. As preparation, Howard sets up a high-tech driving simulator in Sheldon and Leonard’s living room for Sheldon to try. Sheldon does, with predictably and hilariously disastrous results.
7. Attack of the Killer Robot
Episode: “The Killer Robot Instability” – Season 2, Episode 12
Presumably inspired by TV show “Robot Wars,” the boys decide to build a killer robot and plan to enter it into the Southern California Robot Fighting League Round Robin Invitational (that’s quite a mouthful). When the thing is finally built, they decide to test out its killing abilities in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, inadvertently scaring the bejesus out of Penny in the process.
6. Raj’s Medication Wears Off
Episode: “The Porkchop Indeterminacy” – Season 1, Episode 15
As she stays in town, Sheldon’s sexy twin sister Missy becomes the target of Leonard, Howard and Raj’s horny affection. Leonard and Howard fail miserably to woo her, but that doesn’t stop Raj from trying, armed with an experimental drug that suppresses his selective mutism, allowing him to speak to a woman without the need for alcohol. However, the drug wears off at the worst possible moment, and an awkward situation ensues.
5. Into the Future
Episode: “The Nerdvana Annihilation” – Season 1, Episode 14
While searching through eBay, Leonard bids on and buys what he thinks is a miniature model of the titular device from the 1960 sci-fi adventure film ‘The Time Machine.’ What arrives on the building’s doorstep, however, is a full-scale replica of the machine, which Leonard, Howard, Raj and Sheldon enthusiastically decide to try out once dragging it up the stairs to the apartment.
4. Sheldon on Valium
Episode: “The Bad Fish Paradigm” – Season 2, Episode 1
Increasingly panicky about not revealing a secret he swore to keep (that Penny lied to Leonard about finishing community college), Sheldon moves out of the apartment so as to make sure the secret does not reach Leonard’s ears. After moving in with Raj, an argument about Indian actress Aishwarya Rai lands him on the porch of Howard, who dopes him up on Valium and sends him back to Leonard.
3. It’s a Tiara!
Episode: “The Shiny Trinket Maneuver” – Season 5, Episode 12
Following a fight at the Cheesecake Factory, Sheldon’s half-girlfriend, half-platonic friend Amy (the female version of Sheldon) refuses to talk to him. Penny offers him some advice: buy Amy some jewellery! Sheldon does not object. So, he and Penny head down to the jewellery store together, look at the diamonds that are on sale, only to walk out with Sheldon purchasing a pocket watch. Later, Amy is tricked into seeing Sheldon, who gives her his thoughtful gift. Only it’s not a pocket watch…
2. The Ball Pit
Episode: “The Einstein Approximation” – Season 3, Episode 14
Hopelessly stumped by a physics problem about the mass of electrons passing through a graphene sheet, Sheldon becomes obsessed, begins to lose sleep and consequently goes a tad doolally (well, more so than usual). This culminates in him breaking into a Chuck E. Cheese’s one night and using a ball pit to help him solve his scientific puzzlement, much to the annoyance of poor Leonard, who’s called upon by security to remove him from the pit.
1. Penny's Gift to Sheldon
Episode: “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis” – Season 2, Episode 11
It’s Christmastime, and Penny tells the guys that she will be giving each of them a gift for the annual holiday. A hesitant Sheldon decides to do the same for Penny, purchasing several gift baskets of different sizes, the one to be handed to her to be decided when he sees what she has given him, the others to be taken back to the store. However, when Penny gives Sheldon a present that is absolutely priceless, he reacts by handing her all of the gift baskets, and one other, very special gift: a hug from Dr. Sheldon Cooper!
By Stephen Watson