The Big Bang Theory Season 8 Premiere Recap: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS
The Big Bang Theory
Episode Title
The Locomotion Interruption/The Junior Professor Solution
Editor’s Rating

Welcome to our recap of The Big Bang Theory. Yes, we are just rolling this out now, in season eight. Scoff if you must, cynics, but the delightful, middlebrow charms of Sheldon and Company have finally won us over. Sue us! And then read our recap, because you know you love the show, too — or you would, if you forced yourself to cannonball it all in a single summer like we did.

While the first two episodes of season eight might initially appear to be unconnected, there was a common theme: Sheldon would have needed to dip himself into a vat of sanitizer to deal with all the ickiness that befell his body in these two outings. From having to traipse around a public train station with one bare foot and sans pants to fully protect his “bathing-suit parts” to having Wolowitz perfectly land a spitball from his mouth straight into Sheldon’s gullet, it was a tough way for the fussy Mr. Cooper to start a new year.

Plus, the changes. After his 45-day cross-country train trip — which he began as a way to deal with all the changes already taking place in his life at the end of last season — ended when his traveling possessions (see: pantsless and barefoot, above) were stolen as he slept on a train, Sheldon returned home to find that Penny chopped off all her hair and is going to work as a pharmaceutical sales rep, Wolowitz’s mother is cohabitating with Stuart, Raj is still in a relationship with Emily, and the university is making Sheldon become a teaching professor.

Sheldon, as everyone who crosses his path quickly learns, does not like change and does not handle it well. And while the writers have had much fun with that idea, they’ve also been careful not to force too much change on the character too quickly. But then, this is the eighth season of a show that, while being the No. 1 series on TV, still needs to move everyone forward if audiences are to maintain an interest in hanging with them every week. Hence, Sheldon is “forced” to take a promotion and more cash so he can study dark matter, and wannabe actress Penny lands the sales job Bernadette recommended her for, lest she go for the nonexistent gig “at the sitting-around-all-day-wearing-yoga-pants factory.”

Penny’s job, and the potential for her to gain confidence and out-earn fiancé Leonard for the first time, could prove to be the change that bears the most funny fruit this season. Or that title could go to the now more permanent pairing of Mrs. Wolowitz and sad sack Stuart, the roomies who are so close, they’re referring to each other as Deb Deb and Stewie and recording a joint voice-mail greeting. 

This new pairing also brings up anew the question of whether or not we’ll finally get to see, and not just hear, Deb Deb. It’s not like we don’t know the face that goes with the voice. She’s actress Carol Ann Susi, previously best known for her Seinfeld guest appearance as Carrie, the woman George Costanza took out on a Big Mac date only to keep her mother, his unemployment counselor, signing off on his benefits. Do we want to see her? Or is it funnier to have her continue to Carlton the Doorman her way through the series? I’m torn, as Susi is a talented comedic actress, but keeping her off-camera might add to the ambiguity of Stuart and Debbie’s relationship. The degree to which that bothers Howard is potential comedy fodder for as long as the duo continues duo-ing.

But back to Sheldon, who already failed his first challenge as a professor; his arrogance forced his sole student — Wolowitz, the spitball blower — to drop his class. Will he get to keep his new professor position, with its perk of allowing him to switch his area of study, if he can’t get or keep a student?

And what of his relationship with Amy Farrah Fowler, the woman who’s entered Edith Bunker and Alice Kramden territory as one of the most patient women in sitcom history? The studio audience got Bazinga-ed when Sheldon told Leonard, “As soon as we get home, I want to have coitus with Amy.” It was a ruse, of course, though Sheldon, after hurting his girlfriend’s feelings yet again with his reaction to her accompanying Leonard on the road trip to pick him up, did say something sweet. He admitted to Amy that the reason he didn’t call her for help was that his travels were a failure, and he didn’t want her to think less of him. She was touched and told him she didn’t care that he isn’t perfect. Which, in Sheldonville, is tantamount to an insult, because Amy doesn’t think he’s perfect.

As much as some things change, Sheldon stays the same.


  • What has 20 regular triangular faces, 30 square faces, 12 pentagonal faces, 60 vertices, and 120 edges? It’s a rhombicosidodecahedron! Chuck Lorre helpfully showed us an example of that thing that’s harder to pronounce than “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” in his vanity card for “The Junior Professor Solution.” This tutorial shows you how to go all Etsy and craft one of your own. Reward yourself with a Cadbury Crème Egg, even though it isn’t even Easter time.
  • Sheldon, trying to convince a policeman to employ the methods of Sherlock Holmes — including cocaine, if necessary — to help track down his stolen goods: “There are lots of books called ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ There are no books called ‘Officer Hernandez.’”
  • Sheldon, temporarily convinced his train trek, the one in which he made stops in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, and Des Moines, but never left the stations in any of those cities, made him smarter: “I was the world’s smartest caterpillar, and after pupating in our nation’s railway system, I burst forth as the world’s smartest butterfly.”
  • Leonard, trying to convince Sheldon he was not diseased after ingesting Howard’s spitball: “Your uvula does not have an STD.”