Nov. 4, 2010, 8 PM (ET), Thursday, CBS ‘” “The Big Bang’s” 70th episode, “The Apology Insufficiency,” written by Bill Prady, Steven Molaro and Steve Holland, gave major emphasis to Sheldon, the show’s breakout star (Jim Parsons). It’s no fluke that Parsons won the 2010 Emmy as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. It is Sheldon’s flaky behavior and total social ineptness that powers the comic engine now entering its fourth season, “The Big Bang Theory.”
At the beginning of the episode, Howard (Simon Helberg) tells his 3 roommates and friends (Leonard, Raj and Sheldon) that the FBI might be interviewing them so Howard can gain security clearance for nationally sensitive equipment (satellite dish, etc.). Raj (Kunal Nayyar), in particular, is freaked out by the news, declaring, “I’m brown and I talk funny. They’ll find a way to give me a one-way ticket back to Gandhi-ville.” Later, when an attractive FBI female agent actually comes calling on Raj, he sings a pathetic version of “My Country Tis of Thee” to prove he is, indeed, a patriot.
Leonard (Johnny Galecki, a veteran of the sit-com “RoseAnne”) doesn’t do much better. He tries to hit on the attractive FBI agent, only to discover that she’s married.
But most damaging to Howard’s desire to gain clearance so that he can work on the big telescopes is Sheldon, who reveals that Howard once wrecked an expensive Mars Rover. From the outset of the episode, Sheldon feels stymied by his friends, as they talk about their lives at the lunchroom table, saying “Your insistence on talking about your own lives stymies me at every turn.” He tries to introduce a conversation on another topic. (“Excuse me, if we’re changing topics, I believe I have first dibs with capybara, a rodent the size of a baby hippo.”)
After Howard does not gain the clearance he needed for his work, he learns that Sheldon is at fault. Howard is justifiably angry and tells Sheldon to leave him alone. Sheldon turns to Penny (Kaley Cuoco) for advice. (It’s nice to see Penny again, as she has been conspicuously absent on recent shows). She is working as a bartender when Sheldon asks her, “Penny, you face failure on a daily basis. How do you cope?” When drinking is her answer, Sheldon begins to drink and ask for advice from Penny on how to fix the situation.
Penny says that some things just cannot be fixed. Her example? “Lisa Peterson hasn’t talked to me since the 10th grade. No matter how much you want to, you can’t go back and undry-hump someone’s boyfriend.” Sheldon says he must reprogram Howard to accept his apology and enters the lunchroom babbling about “neuro-linguistic programming to modify your thought patterns.” When that doesn’t work, Sheldon mutters, “A $9.95 e-book down the drain.”
Sheldon, after downing drinks at Penny’s bar with toasts like, “To the metric system” and “To James Tiberius Kirk,” shows up in the lunchroom with a large shopping bag containing a pillow, symbolic of his attempt to make amends to Howard by offering Howard his position on the couch, which, Sheldon points out, is “The singular position in space around which revolves my entire Universe, and now it’s yours.”
Urged by the others, Howard finally accepts Sheldon’s apology and they high-five and make up. (Raj says, “I haven’t cried like this since ‘˜Toy Story 3.'”) Later, it takes only 94 seconds on the couch before Sheldon reclaims his favorite spot, and Penny wins a bet from Leonard.
The “Barenaked Ladies” theme song “The History of Everything” plays the characters off and all is well at Cal Tech…although Howard says the failure to win approval has set his work back by at least two years.