It’s midseason, and for a sitcom in its 11th season, that’s a particularly slow time. “Solo Oscillation” is no exception: The most exciting development in this episode is that Footprints on the Moon has two new feet and a new signature jam.
The band, Raj and Howard’s musical project that produced the catchy sci-fi ode “Thor and Dr. Jones” in Season 9 (“One plays with lightning, the other plays with bones”), now includes geologist Bert Kibbler. Howard’s got his hands full with baby Halley and bedridden Bernie about to give birth to another Wolowitz offspring, so Bert steps in to fill his shoes in the duo.
It makes for a delightful new pairing, and a new “hit” for the band. Indiana Jones is still in, but in honor of Bert’s rock fixation — as in stones, not the wrestler-turned-actor — FOTM is now singing about a boulder. Actually, not a boulder … the boulder, the one that chases Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Bert has penned his ditty from the perspective of said boulder: “Alone in my temple, in the middle of Peru / A giant stone ball, with nothing much to do / But if you steal my idol, I will roll right over you…”
Howard, meanwhile, finds he does have some time to devote to his performing arts endeavors, so he puts fingers to keyboard and begins work on his solo project, an astronaut-themed musical. All it takes is a brief sample of the work to reach Bernadette’s ears, and she begs — no, demands — that Howard get the whole band back together. Footprints on the Moon 2.0 makes its official debut as a trio at Toby Greenbaum’s bar mitzvah, where Bert’s aggressive performance might mean FOTM 2.0 isn’t likely to be hired to perform again in the immediate future. (The man really loves and respects that boulder and its destructive capabilities.)
A bonus of the Footprints on the Moon revival: Howard and Raj continue to get their friendship back on track after their rift earlier in the season, though I love that Raj has kept the naturally curly hairstyle he switched to after their quarrel. Raj revealed he’d only straightened his hair to make it look more like Howard’s when the two first met, because he wanted to emulate his “cool” pal. Raj has got his own ‘do, and he’s moved into an apartment and a lifestyle he can support on his earnings, without handouts from his wealthy parents. The new hair and his growing independence are both good looks on him.
As for what the rest of the gang is up to, Sheldon has grown depressed about his lack of enthusiasm for any of his work projects. It makes him grumpy (or grumpier than usual), and he kicks Amy out of their apartment so he can have some alone time to get inspired. When Amy scoots across the hall to Penny and Leonard’s, she and Leonard bond over their shared pasts of spelling bees and science fair projects, while Penny escapes their walk down science-memory lane by going to Amy’s apartment to hang with Sheldon.
Leonard and Amy, hmm. “Lamy” would be their portmanteau, and it is an apt one. They are not one of the more dynamic pairings among the friends.
But Sheldon and Penny together almost always pays off. In the end — if CBS or the cast does ever pull the plug on this lucrative series — Sheldon and Penny may prove to have been the most genius couple all along. His arrogant condescension doesn’t chip away at her inherent confidence, or rather, she doesn’t allow it to. Because of that — and because of the genuine affection between them — Penny can often pull Sheldon around to his most endearing state after he is being his most insufferable self (like, say, kicking his fiancée out of their home, and insulting Leonard when he dares to simply inquire what Sheldon is working on).
Penny doesn’t seem to have picked up a lot of scientific knowledge after 11 years with this gang, but she’s often the only one who can snap Sheldon out of his funks, and her common sense (something that is sometimes lacking with the brilliant Dr. Cooper) has on more than one occasion led Sheldon to both personal and professional insights.
She doesn’t really “solve” string theory, as she later claims to Leonard and Amy, but she certainly is key in helping Sheldon rediscover his jones for the topic. And maybe allowing Amy to return to her own home.
• Raj brings his friends a newspaper so they can see a review of his planetarium show, and Sheldon discovers a Far Side comic that puzzles him. It’s “Midvale School for the Gifted,” one of the all-time best Far Sides.
• Among Footprints on the Moon’s other tunes: “Sherlock Around the Clock”. The lyrics: “Holmes said to Watson / On Baker Street / Come on, Doctor / Time to move those feet.”
• We did not get to hear it, but among the other tunes on FOTM’s set list: “Let’s Get Astrophysical.”
• Leonard, upon hearing Footprints on the Moon might have to cancel its bar mitzvah booking because of Howard’s schedule: “Too bad. You guys kill at bar mitzvahs, and other events where people can’t leave.”
• Why Sheldon loves pizza: it’s “a circle, made of triangles, served in a square box.”