The Big Bang Theory Recap: Penny Lover

Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS
The Big Bang Theory
Episode Title
The Hook-Up Reverberation
Editor’s Rating

How’s this for being hoisted with one’s own petard: Wver since I hit upon the idea to base the title of this recap on Raj’s new girlfriend’s dislike of Penny, the 1983 slow jam “Penny Lover” has been stuck in my head. Damn you, Lionel Richie, with your prodigious catalog of earworm-y balladry.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you, The Big Bang Theory, and how you blew an opportunity for a story line that could have kept you in chuckles through the rest of the series' run. Sheldon, Leonard, Howard, and Raj pooling their cash to help Stuart reopen his comic book store? Sheldon Cooper as an entrepreneur, one who cares much more about having his shop and his merch just so than he does about making a profit? That’s comedy gold, or, at the very least, comedy gold-plated.

Sadly, it was also a one-episode idea, as the fellas went through much comic-book-store co-owning planning — which, naïvely, would have included the purchase of a van and candy to be used to round up kiddie customers for the new shop — before finding out Stuart had already procured comic-book-store rebuilding funds from Deb Deb Wolowitz.

Who’s also paying for roommate Stuart to enjoy cable — with seven different HBOs! — and has taken to calling Stuart her bubbeleh, a term of endearment previously reserved for Howard. Speaking of comedy gold … Howard’s seething with jealousy, Stuart tells him he should start calling before he drops by the house, and we’re still unclear on whether the Stuart/Deb Deb relationship has taken a turn for the romantic, but we do know this pairing may be the best surprise sitcom duo since Chandler and Monica sheet-surfed that hotel bed during Ross’s London wedding trip.

Back to the Penny/Emily hubbub that sparked the headline and a deeper dive back into the Lionel oeuvre than I’ve made since it was released on vinyl, Raj decided it was time for the gang to meet his new girlfriend, Emily, who came with an obvious chip on her shoulder regarding Penny. Seems Raj had done some kissing and telling about his long-ago, one-night fling with Penny, and Emily was not pleased that the fling had not been flung from Raj’s life.

The women tried to make up, sharing how they were impressed with each other’s beauty and making plans to double-date with their boyfriends. And then Penny’s apartment door closed between them, and their true feelings were revealed: “I hate her,” each said about the other.

It’s fitting that in what could be Raj’s first long-term relationship, the most interesting relationship is going to be between Emily and Penny.


Why stop at 463? The most shocking development in “The Hook-Up Reverberation,” for those using the pause button, anyway, came at the end, when Chuck Lorre announced, via vanity card No. 463, that he would not be continuing his famous vanity-card series. The cards have spanned five TV series and inspired the hardcover book What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Bitter, but apparently, Lorre’s vanity does know some bounds.

Stuart, after Howard runs upstairs to rant at his mother: “I don’t know who he’s talking to. She’s at Target, buying me shirts.” That’s gold, Jerry. Gold!

Amy Farrah Fowler continues to get a stingy amount of affection from Sheldon, but Mayim Bialik continues to get an abundance of great lines while portraying AFF. Like this one, after Penny says no one has ever told her, to her face, that they don’t like her. “We have led different lives,” says Amy.

And this one, after Sheldon asks dermatologist Emily if she’ll examine his butt freckles: “I'm with him three years, nothing. She's with him two minutes, he's taking his pants off.”

And this one, in reaction to Sheldon’s comic-book-store idea: “Can you see how a grown man, an accomplished scientist, who invests in a store that sells picture books about flying men in colorful underwear, might be wasting both his financial and intellectual resources?”

Sheldon fears both chickens and dinosaurs, but he’s got a delicious idea for dealing with both: “Tell me a dinosaur/chicken-salad sandwich wouldn't hit the Mesozoic spot."

You know you want to: “Penny Lover,” the video. Why is Lionel singing into one of those game-show-host skinny mikes, though?