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On TV Today's Date:

The Big Bang Theory
"The Vengeance Formulation"

Sure, we all had our fantasy celebrity girlfriend when we were 12, right, guys? Guys? Ahem. Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) apparently never outgrew that phase, and thus doesn't know what to do when faced with the possibility of having an actual girlfriend.

He's talked a good game - for him - on The Big Bang Theory, but now he has to actually belly up to the bar with Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). By the time "The Vengeance Formulation" begins, Howard has achieved something he never has before, a third date. I'm going out on a limb and thinking he's never been on a second date before, either, but we'll let it slide.

Of course he immediately blows it, but the episode tracks his struggle to figure out the difference between reality and fantasy. In his mind, he's got a pretty good thing going in his bubble bath with an illusory Katee Sackhoff.

Meanwhile Sheldon (Jim Parsons) continues his war against Kripke (John Ross Bowie), and after a huge public humiliation, enlists Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) to help plan his revenge. Honestly, as far as arch-nemeses go, I really want to see an escalation with Wil Wheaton, but then again, Lex Luthor isn't afraid to take on more than Superman. And Raj points out that Sheldon is well on his way to being Luthor.

As usual, it's a pretty solid episode, with a great possibility laid out: actual growth for Howard. His character has been well-established over two and a half seasons; now it's time to flip him around and see what happens. We've seen a slightly sensitive side to Howard before and now Helberg has a chance to really deepen the character.

It's also good to see the other three just going nuts off of each other. Though it's almost time for a Raj-centric episode, Nayyar plays foil to Parsons almost better than Galecki does.

Which leaves Penny (Kaley Cuoco) to play off of Howard, but even then she's taking a back seat to Bernadette. Still, every now and then somebody has to play the straight man in the madness. So Cuoco got the short straw this week.

"The Vengeance Formulation" satisfies and gives us an arch performance from Sackhoff. The Big Bang Theory continues to be geek heaven - but if you're one of those claiming to laugh at and not with us, well, damn you but you've got plenty of fuel this week, too.


Derek McCaw

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