One of my favorite T.V shows in the universe is the Big Bang Theory. I just can’t get enough of it. A few weeks ago I binge watched all of season eight in just a couple days.
It’s a great and downright hilarious show.
For anyone unfamiliar, it’s about two scientists. Sheldon and Leonard, who have extremely high IQ who are roommates, along with their two other scientist friends, Raj and Howard, and in the pilot episode they get a new neighbor, a girl named Penny. She isn’t super intelligent like they are, but is very street smart.
It’s simple, but it works. And it’s funny.
Without a doubt, my favorite episode of all time is The Closet Reconfiguration from Season six. Don’t get me wrong, BBT has a lot of great episodes. But I thought I’d talk about what makes this one special. The writers did a few select things which made this episode shine.
A quick summary. (Spoilers) As it’s stated several times, Howard’s dad left his mom and him when he was eleven years old. They don’t know why or where he went. The episode starts at a dinner party.Sheldon is rearranging Howard and Bernadette’s closet and finds a letter from Howard’s father, sent to Howard on his 18th birthday. Because of how he felt toward his father, Howard never opened the letter. But, Sheldon is nosy and opened it and read it. Over the next few days, Howard decides to burn the letter. However, all their friends are curious and trick Sheldon one way or another into telling them what it said. Half way through the episode, now everyone but Howard knows what the letter said. When he learns this, Howard is upset that they all snooped and is unsure what to do. He wants to know and he doesn’t at the same time. The gang decides to honor his wish and they all tell him a version of what the letter said, five untrue and one true, but without telling him which one is actually correct. Now he knows and doesn’t know at the same time. The episode ends with Howard at peace and with a tiny hint he might find out about his father someday.
So what makes this episode great? For starters, Wow. When I first watched this, I was binge watching, but after, I stopped and just sat there for about 15 minutes thinking about this episode. It’s powerful.
First, the writers never tell us what the letter said. Every time someone tricks Sheldon into telling them, Sheldon says well, okay and the scene ends. The audience never knows and this is great. The suspense was so tight, I was sitting on the edge of my seat dying to know what it said. After this episode, I almost ran to my laptop to fire off an email to the writers, begging to ask which version was true. (Spoiler, I think Amy’s was true. Hers was the only one with a time, place, event and state)
Second was the way they build the story. A lot of episodes have an A story and a B story. This is one which only follows one story line. I really enjoy when they do this because a lot of the A stories are great and the B stories are kinda meh. When they focus all their energy into one story, it comes out great. They also move the story slowly and perfectly, using the right blend of comedy and suspense. It keeps the mood from going too somber with an occasional joke, but doesn’t go too far and make it silly.
The last thing they did really well was the emotions. I really felt for Howard in this episode, which was saying something. We felt his pain as he debated on what to do. His father walked out on them and he grew up without him and watched his mom suffer for it. Howard did not want to open that can of worms again, especially because he felt like he’d finally moved on. But on the other hand, a part of him was curious. This felt very real and natural. It’s human to go back and forth the way he did.
Overall, this was an amazing episode and I hope the writers do more like this one. Follow this example for how to do suspense in your writing and you can’t go wrong.
Anyone else enjoy TBB? What’s your favorite episode?
(side note, I do not own The Big Bang Theory, or the image. All rights belong to CBS)