NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of The Big Bang Theory are present in this review
With The Big Bang Theory making its return to the airwaves and kicking off 2016 this week, we got a welcome change in gears for the season, with the Sheldon/Amy storyline put aside, in favour of the other characters, in, “The Sales Call Sublimation.” With Amy away at a neurobiology conference, Sheldon is instead left to goof off with Raj on a trip to analyze astronomy data, while Penny sets up Leonard to pose as a patient for a psychiatrist that she’s trying to sell to, and Howard and Bernadette have to cope with Stuart moving out.
Yes, at long last, two years later, Stuart is finally moving out of the Wolowitz household. This was definitely the biggest development in what’s otherwise a pretty laid-back, surprisingly uneventful midseason premiere for The Big Bang Theory, and the way that Stuart announced it out of the blue, quite suddenly, worked very well. Howard is initially thrilled at the news of Stuart moving out, to the point where he immediately marks all of the extra spaces in the house that he wants to have sex with Bernadette in, now that Stuart is gone, though it’s not long before both of them feel a hole. After cleaning out Stuart’s room and realizing that the place isn’t the same, the two begin to miss him.
This was an interesting idea, though its resolution was also sadly the weakest of the three storylines. Howard and Bernadette missing Stuart is certainly interesting, though this revelation didn’t really go anywhere in this particular episode. Instead, they simply wonder why they miss Stuart, and… That’s it. That’s where the episode leaves them. There’s no indication that Stuart will come back, or that anything will even be mentioned about this in next week’s episode, making this an intriguing idea that the show disappointingly doesn’t explore beyond the surface.
Nonetheless, the rest of the episode was fairly solid, and the idea of settling into a more comfortable groove, and giving audiences a break from all of the Sheldon/Amy drama from the front half of Season Nine, was probably the right call. The humour was also pretty solid this week, between both the Sheldon/Raj plot, and the Leonard/Penny plot, both of which provided some pretty amusing jokes.
The Sheldon/Raj storyline mostly just provided gag fodder, but that’s fine, since it let us kick back and relax with Sheldon’s character for the first time in a little while. When Sheldon ends up discovering a stray object in space, which turns out to be a medium-sized asteroid, Sheldon and Raj debate about what to name it. Eventually, it’s suggested that they name it after their girlfriends, though Sheldon convinces Raj to allow him to name the asteroid after Amy, believing that a rock in space will get him out of Valentine’s Day for the rest of his life. In response however, if Sheldon and Amy have kids, they have to name them all after Raj, including the girls. This was a pretty amusing conclusion to the storyline, and Amy’s reaction to this news was especially funny.
The bulk of the episode however seemed to comprise the Leonard/Penny plot, which is the one referenced in the episode’s title. When Penny expresses frustration at failing to meet up with a psychiatrist that she’s trying to sell an anti-anxiety pill to, Raj suggests having Leonard go in and pose as a patient. When the group points out numerous (funny, and true) issues with Leonard that could justify him going to a psychiatrist, Leonard successfully gets a meeting together, and is overjoyed to learn that the woman disagrees with his mother’s publicized theories on child-rearing.
From here, Leonard begins to enjoy the psychiatrist, and actually gets quite a lot out of the experience. Nonetheless however, when he successfully convinces the psychiatrist to meet with Penny, the psychiatrist figures out immediately that Leonard posed as a patient. This leads to Penny being put under the psychological microscope, and from here, there’s more funny, but simple gag fodder… Oh, and Leonard is convinced to do double-dutch with some young girls, because he learned that he’s a meaningful person whose happiness matters. I think Raj said it best when he said that he learned the same thing from a cat poster for free, but hey, more power to Leonard.
Like I said, for a midseason premiere, “The Sales Call Sublimation” is a pretty unremarkable episode of The Big Bang Theory, though it offered enough decent storylines and good jokes to satisfy. The comfortable start to 2016 is more perfunctory than exemplary, but the show still managed to start the year off on a good note. Sometimes, that’s enough for a sitcom as huge as this one.
- Funny Sheldon/Raj sidestory
- Leonard's trip to the shrink
- Stuart finally moving out of the Wolowitz house
- For a midseason premiere especially, no story really stands out
- Stuart moving out has no real payoff