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'Big Bang' recap: New stud in town

December 9, 2010 |  8:30 pm

The wrong person in the right pair of jeans can be the downfall of almost anyone. This time, hyper-smart researcher Amy Farrah Fowler falls groin first for one of Penny's hunky old boyfriends, Zack, as played by Brian Thomas Smith. It's instant obsession, and suddenly Amy's boyfriend Sheldon becomes invisible. Not that he cares all that much.

This show loves to noodle around with the rules of attraction and how even the brightest, most rational people can fall prey to their baser instincts. The beautiful Penny, a waitress and aspiring actress,  is the only one of the bunch brave enough to test the payoffs of an emotional relationship -- and that affair (with Leonard) collapsed after one season.

So here we are again, Amy throwing herself at the mentally challenged eye candy that wanders into a bar one night. Penny makes the introductions; Amy salivates and the pursuit is on.

The laughs don't really start rolling in till the laundry room scene between Penny and Sheldon. Most of the best moments in the first half of the show come from the secondary story of Howard and Raj facing off over their potential superhero roles.  Who would be the superhero and who would be the sidekick? Obviously, both are sidekicks. But Howard's rubber-limbed wrestler might be the funniest bit of the show. Of all the characters, Simon Helberg's Howard seems the most likely to wind up with his own show one day.

In the end, Amy ends up back with Sheldon, her sorta soulmate. As usual, this often very smart show dodges any clever or satisfying exploration of jealousy or attraction. Like someone you'd meet in a bar, the characters (and writers) are just in it for the laughs. But sometimes even Comic-Com aficionados can have a real moment. And Jim Parsons' Sheldon is far overdue.

-- Chris Erskine

Photo: Zack (Brian Thomas Smith) catches the fancy of Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik), far right, in this Dec. 9 scene from "The Big Bang Theory." Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS