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Some screenshots from the "The Big Bang Theory Season 11":
Year of Release: 2017
Genre of the Series: Comedy
Size of the Full Season: 20 GB
Series Director: Chuck Lorre
Amount of Episodes: 14
It's usually a clear sign a sitcom is nearing the end of its lifespan when it begins focusing more and more on marriage and pregnancy storylines. The Big Bang Theory probably won't be ending anytime soon. It's still one of the most-watched comedies on the air, and CBS has already renewed the show through the 2018-2019 season. But that doesn't mean The Big Bang Theory isn't feeling a little long in the tooth these days. The more these characters settle down into domestic bliss, the less it seems the series has new and interesting challenges to put them through.
Not that there isn't a certain appeal in seeing the series' latest engagement saga unfold. The opening scene in "The Proposal Proposal" is a moment the show has been building to for the better part of a decade at this point. We've seen Sheldon and Amy's relationship take shape very, very slowly but surely in that time, and this proposal is really the culmination of all their time together. The moment didn't disappoint, even with the show leaving fans hanging ever since the Season 10 finale. The proposal had just the right blend of earnestness and silliness, with Sheldon making a grand romantic gesture while also killing the mood by rambling on the phone at the worst possible time. It was a sure sign that even marriage can only change Sheldon Cooper so much.
Unfortunately, it was mostly downhill from there as far as Sheldon and Amy were concerned. The transition into Amy's disastrous work dinner felt very abrupt and out of sync with the episode's first act. It just seemed strange to see Sheldon make such a 180 in characterization, going from the kindhearted, doting fiance to the egocentric, uncaring jerk at the drop of a hat. Sheldon's obnoxious behavior didn't seem justified unless the writers were going to force Amy to seriously reconsider his proposal. And clearly that didn't happen. Sheldon's jerky behavior can often be frustrating, but doubly so in episodes like this where he never pays a real price for mistreating others.
The best that can be said for Sheldon's childish behavior in this episode is that it paved the way for one of the show's better Stephen Hawking cameos. The fact that Sheldon turned to Hawking for approval before Amy's own family is amusing enough. But the fact that Hawking was able to teach Sheldon a thing or two about letting go of your ego when around smarter, more dynamic people felt very appropriate. It was also nice to see Laurie Metcalf's Mary Cooper stop by. It's all the more appropriate considering that tonight also marks the debut of the Young Sheldon prequel series. Taken together, these two episodes really showcase how far Sheldon has come over the years, obnoxious dinner manners notwithstanding.
It remains to be seen if the writers can use the Sheldon/Amy engagement as a lasting source of drama this season. I definitely have my concerns given the way this episode played out. The same goes for Howard and Bernadette, who find themselves becoming parents all over again. There's a real sense of "Been there, done that" with this latest development. So much of their material in the past couple seasons has revolved around the challenges of parenthood and Howard's pathological need to prove himself a proper father figure. This second pregnancy comes across as little more than a chance to rehash those beats. Though I will say I was very entertained by both Simon Helberg and Melissa Rauch's exaggerated performances in that kitchen scene. Helberg in particular delivered a hilarious, over-the-top take on a man trying to process the inconceivable.
Also concerning is the fact that Leonard and Penny had so little to do in this episode. They've easily become the most stagnant of the main characters now that their relationship and professional struggles have mostly been ironed out. It's hard to say where the two characters are headed at this point. I hope the writers establish something for the duo soon, though preferably not another pregnancy storyline.
For now, Raj is the one character who really seems poised for promising things in Season 11. The farther Raj lags behind the rest of the gang in terms of his love life and general independence, the more room there is for growth. Recent seasons haven't explored Raj's struggles nearly as much as I would have liked, and hopefully this will be the year that all changes. This episode was a good start, as it truly highlighted the loneliness of being Rajesh Koothrappali.
It's difficult for any series to keep the magic flowing after a decade, and The Big Bang theory has more than its share of problems as it enters its 11th season. "The Proposal Proposal" had two major developments, but neither twist did much to reinvigorate the series or suggest that interesting new challenges are on the horizon this year. The best that can be said for this episode is that it handled Sheldon's proposal well and it set the stage for a promising personal odyssey for Raj. But what about the rest of the main crew?
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The Big Bang Theory Season 11 YouTube trailer:
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