The Big Bang Theory (S12E01) “The Conjugal Configuration”

It’s been 11 long years since The Big Bang Theory first premiered, and the show is feeling its age. Heading into its 12th and final season, the original characters have all evolved — from an attempted womaniser to a dedicated father, from being unable to talk to women to somewhat of a ladies man, from a ditzy waitress to savvy pharmaceutical sales rep, a single and nerdy pushover to married and slightly more confident and finally, a socially inept scientist to an empathetic and devoted friend and husband. New, and interesting, characters have also been added to play their spouses. It seems as this should open up more avenues for storylines. Instead, this season premiere, The Conjugal Configuration, seemed to rehash conflicts already addressed before.

The main plot between Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) was about his approach to love while on their honeymoon, the B plot highlighted the differences between Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and finally in a C plot that felt almost tacked on, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and his burgeoning career in the spotlight.

Sheldon and Amy

Sheldon and Amy were on their honeymoon, which in typical Sheldon fashion, began with a stay at Legoland. He shows a surprising enthusiasm for physical intimacy, which excites Amy at first, before she realises that it was due to his tendency to schedule. Amy grows increasingly disappointed as Sheldon schedules coitus for after Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and before they tour landmarks featured in the life of Nicolas Tesla.

Sheldon showing Amy his schedule on his phone
Sheldon showing Amy his schedule. Source: Warner Bros./cbs.com

Predictably, Sheldon doesn’t realise any issue with his method of making sure Amy’s needs are met and  so her frustration with him grows, culminating with her storming off during the middle of the Tesla tour. Sheldon sits down with her, surprisingly sweetly, with some streetcar food and explains in a very Sheldony way, that he just wants her to be happy. Once she understands his motives, she’s realises how much Sheldon loves her and tells him to make as many schedules as he wants, as long as he doesn’t tell her.

This causes Sheldon to suggest a randomly generated coitus schedule. Amy points out that humans haven’t solved the problem of true random number generation. Sheldon’s excited by this display of scientific knowledge and he drags her off so she can say it again while naked. It’s a cute and neat resolution of their first problem as a married couple, while also showing another human aspect of Sheldon.

Penny and Leonard sitting on the couch talking
Penny and Leonard talking about the Fowlers. Source: Warner Bros./cbs.com

Penny and Leonard

The Penny and Leonard plot had some help from guest stars in the form of Amy’s mom, Mrs Fowler (Kathy Bates) and dad, Mr Fowler (Teller). The gang is heading to Penny and Leonard’s apartment and hear sounds from Amy and Sheldon’s apartment, where they discover that Amy’s dad is secretly staying there. They call her mom who tries to drag her husband back home.

Penny and Leonard discuss the Fowlers’ odd relationship and Mr Fowler’s refusal to go back. Leonard inadvertently mentions that their relationship has a similar dynamic with Amy’s parents. Penny storms off without another word and the next morning greets Leonard rather icily. She forgives him when he points out that if Penny is the ‘ballbusting’ one in the relationship, he is the cowardly Mr Fowler. He lists her good qualities and mentions that any issues he has is probably due to his childhood.

Leonard and Mr Fowler sitting on the couch in Amy's apartment
Leonard and Mr Fowler. Source: Warner Bros./cbs.com

Mrs Fowler talks to Penny about her worry that her husband may not come home. Penny reassures her that he will return. Amy’s mom compliments Penny on what a great person she is and how much she is looking forward to spending time together. This prompts Penny to cross the hall and order Mr Fowler home.

This storyline, though providing a few laughs, seemed rather pointless. It seems as if the writers randomly picked a story that could work in the two guest stars available.

Raj smiling awkwardly on the local news
Raj on the local news. Source: Warner Bros./cbs.com

Raj, and Howard & Bernadette

The local news asks Raj to talk about the meteor shower, which should have been a great career opportunity. In typical Raj fashion though, he spends the entire time complaining about guest star, Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, because he was originally asked to appear. This sets off a Twitter feud which Bernadette and Howard enjoy watching while sitting on the couch.

They trade tweets back and forth before Dr. Tyson calls up Raj to invite him to a book signing. He challenges him to say the tweets to his face without the security of the internet. Raj, intimidated, declines. Their conversation ends and Dr. Tyson calls up the final guest star of the episode, Bill Nye, who he apparently also has a feud with.

Overall, it was a decent episode, moving along nicely and interspersed with some genuinely hilarious moments, with  Penny’s reactions being a standout for me. There were also some great guest stars, however, it felt almost like a episode in the middle of a season and as premieres go, The Conjugal Configuration was not a great one. If the season continues like this, it looks like the writers are taking T. S. Eliot’s words to heart, ending on a whimper and not a bang.

Overall Score: B+

The Big Bang Theory airs on Thursdays at 8/7c on CBS. “The Wedding Gift Wormhole” airs on Thursday, September 27, 2018.