If we’re not going to get a compelling or fresh or even kinda funny story line (spoiler alert: we didn’t), TBBT can at least give us some of its best recurring bits — and that’s exactly why this episode earns a whopping three stars. We got to enjoy both the return of Footprints on the Moon — Howard and Raj’s band, which earns two of those stars — and new installments of Amy and Sheldon’s deliciously boring web series Fun With Flags. Better yet: The two are combined, as Footprints on the Moon writes a theme song for Shamy’s special Fun with Flags: Behind the Flags: A Retrospective.”
“Wonder how it all began? / Need a good attention span / For information and entertainment …” sings the show’s “house band,” while Sheldon and Amy prepare to be inundated with calls from the FWF viewers — nearly 200 of them, Amy says, many of whom sought the show out intentionally.
To Shamy’s disappointment, the evening’s first and only caller is Bert, who hasn’t dialed in to talk about flags. Instead, he wants the world, or at least Sheldon and Amy, to know that he has a new girlfriend. The hosts want no part of his flag-free chatter, and actually hang up on him. But you can’t keep a bragging Bert down, and he calls in again, adding another detail to his news: His lady friend’s name is Rebecca.
Bert’s love life takes up a fair share of the story line, as the gang eventually invites him and Rebecca to dinner. Sheldon rudely — but not wrongly — points out that Becs is younger and more attractive than Bert; they’re copying Leonard and Penny, he laughs. Bert explains how the couple got together: online dating and his disclosure about a $625,000 MacArthur Grant. He already bought Rebecca a TV on their first date, and Amy feels compelled to point out to Bert that it sounds like his new love only likes him for his cash. The others pile on and encourage Bert to dump her and search for someone who appreciates him for his qualities instead of his cash.
He does, and immediately regrets it, especially since Rebecca won’t take his calls (even though he bought her phone). But in time, all’s sad that ends sad: Bert calls in to Fun With Flags: Behind the Behind the Flags: A Retrospective Retrospective to reveal that he successfully rebought Rebecca’s affection with a Jet Ski.
Flags, Footprints, and flirty Bert are the best the episode offers. Meanwhile there’s the title story line, in which the Wolowitzes and Stuart have a tough time leaving baby Halley at day care now that Bernadette’s maternity leave is ending. It’s a relatable story line, but without a new spin there’s little humor to be mined here. Being separated from the baby makes Bernie sad and screechy, Howard dopey (-er than usual), and Stuart creepy (-er than usual). Wouldn’t those in charge of the babies ask — demand, really — to know why someone who is not related to any of the babies wants to hang out all day in a private day care and look at them through the glass?
Two more seasons, TBBT writers: Please apply some serious effort toward putting Stuart in a situation where he gets even a smidgen of a life that doesn’t make him seem like someone who would have to register with local authorities every time he moves.
• If I could give the episode an additional half a star, I’d tack that on for another favorite bit: Simon Helberg’s gift for impersonations. Howard mocks Bernie’s squeaky voice (perfectly), and then, on the way to the zoo, does a spot-on take on sad-sack Stuart, saying, “It’s been a while since I went on a date. Mind if we watch the monkeys doing it?”
• Sheldon’s story about how Liechtenstein and Haiti discovered they had the same flag while participating in the 1936 Summer Olympics: true. Liechtenstein quickly differentiated its flag — which consisted of two bands, one red and one blue — by adding a gold crown to the upper left corner.
• Howard, Bernie, and Stuart agree that Halley should be raised to be more independent than “mama’s boy” Howie, who points out, “It wasn’t until college that I learned you could put a thermometer in your mouth.”
• Sheldon is pleased with the comments on the Fun With Flags retrospective episode: “People are calling it ‘the longest one yet.’”