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'Big Bang Theory' recap: As Sheldon replicates himself, where's Johnny?

September 30, 2010 |  9:37 pm


Jim Parsons' Sheldon may be the world's first techno-sexual. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact, he's probably not alone. Though, for the purposes of the fourth season of "The Big Bang Theory," he needs to be.

Sheldon is Bang's bumbling Gilligan, one of the finest and distinct TV characters to come along in the last decade. He doesn't just represent dysfunctional geeks; he represents a generation that is sometimes more obsessed with gadgets than with each other.

On Thursday's second episode of the season, Sheldon is obsessed with living long enough to see many of his scientific predictions and milestones come true. To cut the chances of an accidental death, he replicates himself as a robot -- a Shelbot -- that he operates from the safety of his bed.

There's not much story here. Most of the humor hinges on the prop robot, a funny set-up involving a flat-screen TV and a T-shirt. There is also a too-short bit on Sheldon working out with Penny in his quest to stay healthy.

Once again, Johnny Galecki's character Leonard gets short shrift. Where's Johnny? Nowhere, for the second straight episode. If this keeps up, he's going to wind up with fewer lines than the painfully girl-shy Raj.

Speaking of plot twists, even though there weren't any, how about Kaley Cuoco's recent confession that she and Galecki had a secret off-screen relationship for two years? That's not exactly a revelation on a par with the Pentagon Papers, or anything Bill Clinton ever pulled, but it's sure to flavor any scenes between the two this season. Cuoco says the two split last winter, partly from the strain of trying to keep their relationship from the public. To that, all you can ask is "why?" Wouldn't the extra pub have only helped the show?

In any case, Parsons' often over-the-top character needs Leonard there for balance. Till then, Cuoco's deadpan deliveries are carrying the show. Once the weakest link in the cast, she gets better with every season.

Network note: Hey, CBS, can you lay off the promos long enough for the show to get rolling? Three minutes of promos after the cold opening has got to be an audience killer.

Network note II: Parsons can bend a punchline as well as anyone in TV, but some of his lines were so much of a mouthful you thought he might pass out. Give the guy a break. Or at least a chance to breathe.

--Chris Erskine

Photo: Jim Parsons' Sheldon prepares to work out with Kaley Cuoco's Penny in one of the best scenes of the night. Her: "Can you do this?" Him: "We'll never know." Credit: Warner Bros. Television