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'Big Bang Theory' recap: Howard has a moment

October 14, 2010 | 10:10 pm


             Another half hour of Bang devoted to crippled romantics, which seems to be this season’s running theme. This time Simon Helberg’s turtlenecked Howard is trying to make up with his old girlfriend, Bernadette (Melissa Rauch).

             Week after week, Helberg rarely has a weak moment, though this awkwardly plotted ep never builds toward anything, and doesn’t leave him much to work with. There’s a relatively weak cold opening, followed by four minutes of commercials and CBS promos. By the  time we get back to the show, so much time has passed I only half-remember what Howard’s dilemma is.

             Oh yeah, his dilemma is pretty simple. He still lives with his mother (nothing wrong with that -- soon, we all will again). And he's stuck in a threesome of  fantasy lovers (don’t be judgmental).

             “I’m just another lonely nerd living with his mother and looking for any scrap of happiness he can find.”

             Not a bad set-up for the talented Helberg, but a bedroom fantasy sequence doesn’t really pay off, and is creepy George Takei all that funny beyond a line or two?

             By now, after Sheldon’s failed romantic pursuits of the first few episodes, you’d think Leonard would have some catty-funny-rich observations about the fickle nature of love, loneliness and longing. Not so much, and I guess it’s not really that kind of show. But once again, Johnny Galecki  is underused. The best exchange of the show is a couple of short people jokes between him and Helberg. Why did this witty little sequence land, when everything else fell short? Because it felt genuine -– not  contrived and cartoonish.

             I’m guessing this season is all leading up to some sort of reconciliation between Leonard and Penny. Bring it on. Otherwise, I’m going to have to start checking out “Community,” an NBC show I swore off a year ago. It's over-the-top dopey too, but at least there are some laughs there.

             Thursday's best line: “Sometimes your movements are so lifelike I forget you’re not a real boy,” Leonard to Sheldon, after Sheldon questions a conversation they’re having.

 --Chris Erskine 

Photo: Left to right, Melissa Rauch, Kaley Cuoco and Simon Helberg in the Oct. 14 episode; credit: Ron P. Jaffe/CBS