“Big Bang Theory”: Rajesh Speaks

Big_bang_1_1114I’m not as unabashed a fan of “The Big Bang Theory” as some of my colleagues, but there is definitely something beguiling about the show, even when it’s not laugh-out-loud funny. As goofy as the show’s four braniacs are, there’s a winning sincerity about them.

And though praises have been thoroughly sung for Jim Parsons as Sheldon, the actor who keeps me tuning in is Johnny Galecki as Leonard, who so charmingly yearns for something more in his life without ever abandoning his friends or even his own identity.

But I don’t think any episode made me feel more upbeat about the “Bang” than this week’s, when a single sip of alcohol* unleashed Rajesh (Kunal Nayyar), who for the show’s entire run had been unable to utter a word to any woman. The way he suddenly opened up to Penny (Kaley Cuoco) was just the kind of Big_bang_1114unexpected comic surprise you hope for from a show that occasionally telegraphs its jokes a bit too much.

The clever twists didn’t stop there, as Sheldon, without even being aware what he was doing, unexpectedly wooed Rajesh’s date, foiling the marriage that Rajesh’s parents were attempting to arrange. Without it even being the main part of the show, we got a glimpse of how Sheldon might actually connect with someone and how funny that could be.

While Leonard’s relationships with Sheldon and Penny have been plenty nifty throughout the run of “Bang,” other aspects of the show, such as Penny’s one-note exchanges with the rest of the cast, were starting to feel like dead weight. Monday’s episode renewed hope that there will be more “Bang” for the buck — assuming that the labor dispute sidelining its writers can ever be solved.

— Jon Weisman

*Speaking of vices, “Aliens in America” had its best episode in weeks as well, keyed by Raja’s affinity for smoking (as well as a smart twist on the Veterans Day holiday). It was nice to see “Aliens” get away from the rut of pitting Raja and Justin against each other.

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