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The Big Bang Theory Recap: Learning Fun With Professor Proton

The Big Bang Theory

The Novelization Correlation
Season 11 Episode 15
Editor’s Rating *****
Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS

A Wil Wheaton guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory always makes for a good time, but Wheaton’s presence doesn’t always bring out the best in Sheldon Cooper. “The Novelization Correlation” is a particularly fun exception for Sheldon.

When last the former Wesley Crusher visited the Pasadena gang (earlier this season in “The Proton Regeneration”), he broke Sheldon’s heart when he snagged Sheldon’s dream job: replacing the late Arthur Jeffries (Bob Newhart) as kiddie-science-show host Professor Proton. Sheldon threw the requisite hissy fit in response, from asking Wheaton to turn down the gig to demanding that his friends boycott the new Professor. Oh, and launching a petition to get Wheaton fired.

None of that worked, so Sheldon’s enemies list (an actual inventory of adversaries Sheldon maintains) is updated, with Wil Wheaton once again snagging a spot on the roll. Sheldon also resolves not to watch the new series, but to share negative comments about the project online. Amy points out he can’t criticize something he hasn’t seen.

“I’m sorry, are you familiar with the internet?” Sheldon asks.

But Amy craftily convinces Sheldon to tune in, telling him he can make his barbs all the more specific by doing so. Turns out Sheldon likes the science knowledge Wil-as-Proton is dropping, though, and is so jealous that Howard is the real scientist guest on the new Proton series that he agrees to apologize to Wheaton and ask to make a guest appearance himself. Wheaton graciously accepts the sorry Sheldon serves up, but when he mentions he’d instead like to invite Amy on the show to spotlight female scientists, it looks like he just might earn another return trip to the enemies list.

But then, Sheldon delivers something Sheldon doesn’t like to give or receive: a surprise. Howard says he didn’t tell Sheldon about his guest appearance on Wil-as-Proton’s show because he was afraid of how Sheldon would react. Howard and Raj tell Sheldon their whole crew behaves that way, and this is news to Sheldon. Or at least, Sheldon pretends it is. Does the formerly (okay, somewhat formerly) socially awkward man who has finally come to recognize sarcasm on a regular basis really not know that his friends often tiptoe around him lest they have to watch him ride around on his huffy bike? I’m not totally convinced this is true, as we’ve seen more than ten seasons worth of examples of Sheldon delighting in his ability to be difficult in the name of getting his own way.

But, even if he isn’t being sincere, the important thing is that he now acknowledges this isn’t a mature way to behave, nor a good way to treat his friends and future wife. This leads Sheldon to throw a chess match with Amy, after which he apologizes for making her feel like she has to subordinate her own feelings and desires in deference to him. He even encourages her to be accept Wil Wheaton’s invitation to be on his show. And then he also mocks her lack of chess skills. Sheldon gonna be Sheldon, but there is positive movement forward, something Amy Farrah Fowler, and Sheldon’s long-frustrated friends, surely deserve.

And speaking of those long-frustrated pals, Leonard, the longest-suffering as Sheldon’s former roomie, has an epiphany of his own. While working on his novel about a physicist who solves crimes — sparking a series of fantasy role-playing in which Leonard is the crime-solving hero, Raj and Howard are suave scientists/murder suspects, and sad sack Stuart, of course, is the janitor mopping up the crime scene — Leonard is accused of basing the mean, oft-critical lead female character on both Penny and Bernadette. Neither is thrilled to be his muse.

But when Leonard makes a phone call to his mother to discuss his literary ambitions, he realizes Beverly is the real inspiration for Ilsa, the “confident, ball-busting beauty who’s always rolling her eyes” at the Leonard-inspired character.

“You know what, I’m a physicist … what am I doing writing a book?” Leonard wisely concludes, apparently ending his efforts on the all-too-autobiographical novel.

THEOR-EMS

• Amy and Sheldon wedding update: None, as wedding plans haven’t been mentioned in the last two episodes. Presumably the network wants to maintain some element of surprise about when the Shamy shindig is going to happen, but since we’re more than halfway through Season 11 and there’s no set date yet, maybe we should assume the nuptials are going to be a Season 12 affair?

• For TBBT fans who are also watching the prequel series, Young Sheldon, you know there was a special treat in the YS episode that followed “The Novelization Correlation.” For those Big Bang fans who have yet to check out the spinoff or missed Thursday’s installment, the YS writers shared the origin of Sheldon’s favorite sick-time remedy: “Soft Kitty.”

• Raj wonders which Hemsworth brother would play the hero in the movie adaptation of Leonard’s novel, until Leonard confirms the hero is based on himself. “So, a young Paul Giamatti?” Raj suggests.

• Sheldon, preparing to tell Amy that Wil Wheaton wants her to appear on his show: “How would you like to be on television?”

Amy: “Is it gonna be a news story where I have to say you were quiet and kept to yourself, and I’m as shocked as anyone?”

The Big Bang Theory Recap: Learning Fun With Prof. Proton