Kate Ward
May 18, 2010 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Image Credit: Robert Voets/CBSI love me a good flashback episode. Fat Monica on Friends, Will and Grace as boyfriend and girlfriend on Will & Grace, how Lisa got her sax on The Simpsons — those are some classic sitcom moments. Unfortunately, when we’re flashing back to the good ol’ days of the first generation iPod, it’s difficult to laugh about how things have changed because, well, they aren’t that different now than they were in the early 2000s. (Save for the fact that Firefly is no longer on television. Sorry, Sheldon.) That’s why I have to say I felt that last night’s Big Bang Theory fell as short as a Yoda action figure.

Not that the Big Bang crew didn’t try. After all, what better way to remedy the lack of distinguishable fashion trends from the early 2000s by dressing Raj and Howard up like they were in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively? (Since my dad, a chemistry professor, regularly had his grad students over for dinner when I was a kid, I am well aware that young scientific minds have a tough time catching up to the latest fashion trends.) And all the elements for a good Big Bang Theory episode were there: Leonard made several endearingly awkward jokes, Howard’s mom made an appearance, and Sheldon was hilariously high-maintenance — more than usual, if the “Die Sheldon Die” paint on Leonard’s future apartment wall was any indication. (Or maybe Sheldon’s last roommate was simply German.) Yet, that was exactly the problem: The show felt no more special than any other Big Bang episode. There were no watercooler moments. And since this was a very special episode — one in which Sheldon and Leonard’s first meeting was shown — it should have have exceeded a good Big Bang episode. It should have been great.

But perhaps my expectations are just too high, after such great episodes this season as “The Excelsior Acquisition” and “The Wheaton Recurrence.” So enough complaining. Let’s at least zero in on my favorite parts of the episode:

1. Leonard, kicked out of his apartment after a thermostat snafu with Sheldon, telling the story of how he and his roommate first met — while painting Penny’s toenails. If I had a nickel for every time an ex-boyfriend painted my toenails, I’d have, well, zero nickels. Which means I would have no money for a pedicure. Which means my ex-boyfriend would have to paint my toenails. Now we’re full circle!

2. Sheldon’s roommate application questions: “What is the sixth noble gas?”; “Kirk or Picard?”; “In a post apocalyptic world, which task would you assign the highest priority: Locating a sustainable food source, re-establishing a functional government, procreating, or preserving the knowledge of mankind?” And, of course, Sheldon would accept any answer besides “procreating.” Perhaps that’s why he c–kblocked Leonard during his romp with a woman — who just so happened to be a spy.

3. Pre-Leonard Sheldon’s sparse decorating: Two lawn chairs, a table, a white board, a television on cement blocks, and model helix. And, of course, this: “The apartment’s flag is a gold lion rampant on a field of azure.” Nice color-coordination, Sheldon!

4. The fact that Sheldon doesn’t “rent to hippies.” Too bad Eric Cartman doesn’t need a roommate.

5. Sheldon’s tie-breaking technique: He settles all ties. Which means, of course, he always wins. This is why he’s a genius, folks.

6. Sheldon’s disappointment upon discovering neither he nor Leonard perfected time-travel in the future: “If either of us ever invents time travel, we agree our first stop will be this meeting today in precisely five seconds. [Waits five seconds.] Well, that’s disappointing.”

7. Sheldon using a Palm Pilot. Wait, maybe early 2000s technology is hilarious! But where were the zip drives?!

Oh, and we finally learned what happened to the elevator: Sheldon used it to shield Leonard and the gang from an experiment gone awry. Eh. I was hoping it somehow involved Wil Wheaton. Fellow Big Bang fans: Were you also just a tad disappointed with the flashback episode? Who looks better in a dress: Penny, or her apartment’s former occupant? And who else wished we could have seen what happened between Sheldon and his former roommate?

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