The Big Bang Theory – A “Penny” for Your Thoughts

This issue, I take issue with The Big Bang Theory – that wonderous, splenderous, eclectic, erudite series from Chuck Lorre – that wonderous, splenderous, eclectic, erudtie writer, producer, director & composer.  Did I miss anything?  Did he?

Well, he hasn’t missed much!  In fact, he also created Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men.  Clearly, this man knows how to crank out a story.  So, just as clearly, he has no need of me.  Or Dramatica.  But mostly me.

And yet, as a fan of the show, I cannot help but offer up a plea for a future storyline that might enhance what is already one of the most creatively and intelligently produced series in the history of the boob tube.

In the past, I have held back my opinion until the finished movie, book, or television show was completed, hoping for the best (like the rest of the fans) only to be disappointed when Lost, Twin Peaks, or the movie, Star Trek Generations, failed to grasp what every fan knew.

I would rant and utter, “They didn’t ask me – why didn’t they ask me?!”  Well this time, it’s going to be different (quote from Star Trek Generations that leads to the disappointment with that movie).  But that’s a different story – literally.

Once enraged by the cluelessness of the Great Creators, I would oft satiate myself with a Constructive Criticism, such as these – Jurassic Park – Building A Better Dinosaur, Fried Rice: The Tale of “The Vampire Chronicles”, A Constructive Criticism of “True Lies”, Natural Born Killers: A Constructive Criticism, and THE XX AND XY FILES in which I both celebrate the genius at work (in the work) and also the disappointment that a near flawless story was undermined by one small, but pivotal, step.

But I’ve grown tired of coming in after the fact.  I’m tired of being disappointed.  So this time I’m going to offer up my humble suggestion for a storyline for Big Bang Theory that will keep it from falling from grace, doomed to stagger to a lethargic end in the shadow of its former glory.

Hence, the “Penny” storyline:

Currently, the character of Penny (the across-the-hall-mate of Sheldon, Leonard, and their two practically live-in friends, Raj and Wolowitz) has reached something of a dead-end.  While initially an essential counterpoint to the four nerds as a foil for Sheldon, a real-world connection for Leonard, a disturbing presence for Raj and an impossible dream for Wolowitz, that ship, as they say, has sailed.

Every conceivable combination of scenarios has been played, from Penny becoming a surrogate mother-figure for Sheldon to a lover for Leonard.  Fine – well played!  What now?

Penny remains an aspiring actress working as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory.  This far into the series, she must be an awful actress or (just like the thousands of other such perpetually hopeful ingénues in the real world) to have virtually no career and yet still see their day job as – their day job.

Mr. Lorre, you simply must do something about Penny.  Otherwise the tie that binds will either become overly restrictive, or she will fail to hold the group together and their characters will strain to drift apart.

So, with absolute starry-eyed respect from a fan, here’s my humble suggestion…

Sheldon runs an experiment to prove just how little the “common man” can understand of the rarified work he is developing.  He shows a white board of equations to Penny as a test.  He asks if she understands any of it and she replies “No” (pause) “But that part is wrong”, pointing to one section of the board.

Sheldon, in a huff, proclaims that while his work may be in development, it is never wrong.  And besides, how could Penny possibly know it was wrong if she doesn’t even understand it.  She replies that she just knows, smiles, and leaves to return to her apartment.

Sheldon pontificates again, how preposterous it was for her to suggest that area of his work was in error.  Stops, looks at it again, and says incredulously, “My God, it is wrong!”

Turns out, after further testing, that Penny is something of a savant.  While she doesn’t comprehend what any of the equations mean, she simply and unfailingly can instantly identify any error in them.

Sheldon snobbishly mentions the situation to one of his co-workers, who brings it to the attention of the department head who, after seeing a demonstration by Penny, hires her on the spot to double-check all their technical work.

She quits her waitress job and is given an office in the university, which she decorates in her usual feminine fashion and hangs out reading her magazines, doing her nails, going on acting auditions, and discovering the problem areas in everyone’s research.

This puts her in daily conflict and confusion with the Gang of Four, leaves her charming oblivious attitude intact, and makes her, once again, the spaghetti that holds the four meatballs together.  In addition, it opens the opportunity for Penny to actually get an acting job from time to time, which would now add to, rather than draw away from, the central storyline.

So, take it for what it’s worth, Mr. Lorre, but at least this time I won’t have myself to blame if Penny’s character slowly withers away.  Perhaps you might even find this suggestion as inspiring as I have found your vanity cards, the style of which inspired the tone of this very article.

Well, that’s my take on how to make The Big Theory end with a Bang, not a whimper.

Oh, and Lost should have ended with it being discovered that not only are they dead but all the unanswered or unexplained items (like 4-8-15-16-23-42 )are all in the Lost world because they came in with those who had died.

Hurley brought those numbers with him because he actually won the lotto with them, so he subconsciously projected them into the Lost world.  After all, he’s almost always the one who sees them first.  Faraday brought the physical anomalies, due to his background, Miles brought the Dharma initiative due to his early memories of his dad. and Jacob contributed the ancient artifacts from his own memories (he has been there for a long, long time).

Anyone who dies contributes something, but everyone there must deal with all of it.  In this way, the world of the afterlife becomes an ever-evolving environment in which they are given the opportunity to grow and move on – a world both personal and familiar with what each person brings to it but also strange and inexplicable due to what all the other have brought. 

The last episode could have spelled out exactly what each character contributed to the world from their hopes, fears, past or nature.  And so, all the elements on the island would not have have to make sense as part of some Great Overall Mystery involving the Dharma initiative, but could make sense as part of an even bigger explanation as to how the afterlife works.

Why didn’t they ask me?