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Episode 20: The Hofstadter Isotope


The second season of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory aired on CBS from September 22, 2008 to May 11, 2009. A DVD consisting of all 23 episodes of the season was released on September 15, 2009, and a Blu-ray version was reissued on July 10, 2012, with remastered surround sound audio, whereas the DVD version only had stereo.




Episode 20: The Hofstadter Isotope



Jim Parsons submitted the episode "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" for consideration due to his nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards. In 2009, TV Guide ranked the episode #60 on its list for the 100 Greatest Episodes.[1] Christine Baranski submitted the episode "The Maternal Capacitance" for consideration due to her nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards.


The former tenants of the apartment above Leonard and Sheldon's move out. After an unsuccessful attempt by Howard to rent the apartment, an attractive blonde named Alicia moves in. Alicia, like Penny, is an aspiring actress; she obtains a role as a dead hooker in an episode of the TV series CSI. Apart from Sheldon the guys are fascinated by Alicia, and she takes advantage of this by having them help her move in and otherwise labor for her. Penny thus loses the guys' attention, and begins to resent the way Alicia exploits them. Penny tries to win her friends back by bribing them with Chinese food, offering to watch Battlestar Galactica with them, and even memorizing a quantum physics joke. After Alicia brags about her exploitation of the men, while also desiring their incomes, Penny confronts her. Alicia responds that Penny exploits the men just as she does, upon which Penny physically attacks her. After the fight, the guys take an injured Penny back to Leonard and Sheldon's apartment and learn that Alicia is sleeping with one of the CSI producers, leading Penny to comment that Alicia is a "dead whore on TV, live one in real life".


This is my second complete episode of the Big Bang Theory ever (I'm attending the PaleyFest panel, so I figured I should, you know, watch the show?), and I continue to find it charming. I had written it off after the pilot, but they've done a good job of (as you note) giving the characters their own identities beyond nerd/sleaze archetypes. I agree that Howard lacks such an identity as far as I've seen in my spot checks, and I'll be curious to see when I eventually revisit the whole series (it feels like a good summer catchup show) and see the ups and downs for myself.


I definitely don't like the "let's laugh at the geeks" jokes but I give the writers some leeway since there's obviously a little bit of each of them in the characters (since they write the characters so pitch perfect). This episode, however, what really bugged me was the "let's laugh at fat people" joke at the end with Raj making out with a faceless woman (shown later, I know) with a heavyset body. Hey, you know who's lower on the social ladder than a nerd/geek? A fat girl. Boo! You're better than that BBT writers!


I commented to my wife after the show, "That may have been the most comic book references ever in a single half-hour. And every one of them was accurate." As a card-carrying geek, I'm always delighted when a movie/TV show gets the details right. I was surprised to hear a Spider-Man discussion last night, as the show so clearly favors DC Comics. I've long assumed that the boys' tastes in comics are shaped by Warner Bros. corporate synergy. (Not that I mind, I'm an old-school DC fan myself.)As for the episode itself, I too was a little disappointed that they went that route with Stuart. A high-functioning geek such as he should've picked up on the obvious "coffee" invitation. As you suggest, it would've been funnier to have Stuart trying and failing to extract himself from the argument.Though I absolutely agree with Sheldon: gotta go Dick Grayson.


I was really disappointed by the way the fat woman was played for laughs at the end. As if it wouldn't have been bad enough for Howard to judge it, it seemed to be played as though fat women are inherently funny, not just through a sleaze's eyes. This show is usually so good at the laughing-with (as Alan mentioned), that it was hurtful to see such cruel laughing *at* someone.It was mostly a great episode, and I laughed a lot, but I had a lot of trouble with that last scene, and it affected the overall experience for me.


Alan, in agreement on Feinberg's ideas. That is a VERY true situation that happens in real life all the time...um, I've heard.Anyway, Stuart had a right to be frustrated with Sheldon. Jason Todd?!The bar plot was a bit frustrating in the lack of character development. Obviously, the show has to go on for several years, but they seem to gloss over such movements as Raj talking to Penny sober or Howard admitting his creepiness in favor of reliable gags. And at this point, you'd think it would be obvious to Leonard that he just needs to talk to women. I can buy him hanging out with Howard as a friend, but he seems smart enough to realize he's all talk in the romance department.The less said of Raj's hookup, the better.There might come a time a year or two in when the show's desire to mock the awkward/oblivious aspects of the characters overwhelms the sweetness that makes it fun. Until the outright meanness sets in, though, at least there's episodes like this, which rank as the best moment of comic-nerdity on TV. Not surprised if Dave Goetsch is writing for Marvel or DC within the year.Finally: Sheldon's assessment of all the books Penny's nephew would need to read in order to understand a current DC book is sadly accurate. They have some serious accessibility issues these days.


I'm glad to see there are some folks who were really put off by the fat girl joke at the end. IMO, Howard's reaction was along the lines of "of course, a fat girl will hook up with anyone!" Because of that setup, the bit with Raj waking up and realizing he was in bed with the girl was more about "holy crap I just slept with this big, fat girl" rather than "oh no, I'm not drunk, what do I do?"I love this show so so much but I am disappointed that they do pull out the fat jokes from time to time. Like someone else said, they're better than that.And Liz Coopersmith, you are awesome for that explanation. I know what an isotope is but I just didn't make the connection! So funny!


Totally agree with Feinberg and Sepinwall on the ending and the wasted opportunity. Of all the things, his geekiness would allow him to recognize the coffee invite as a not so subtle invite for other things, afterall, it's used on television all the time. My idea, maybe just for one episode, introduce like some westerner obsessed with Japanese culture of cosplay, otakuism and have a clash of traditional Trek/War/DC/Marvel geek versus Gundam/Neon Genesis/FLCL geek.


Alan, I think real Stuart would have no idea how to act with a woman who looks like Penny. I thought the way he clung to the comfortable familiarity of the discussion he was having with Sheldon rather than the high-stress unfamiliarity of his date with Penny was perfectly done.Also, this episode returns to my favorite thing about this show, which is the development of Penny as a character.It felt completely believable that Penny's relationship with Leonard and company has gotten her to the point where she sees Stuart as a potential love interest. He's not just a comic book geek to her, he is a nice, charming guy who has something to offer.Kaley Cuoco is a very talented actress. If someone else were in her role, the show wouldn't be half as funny and could be downright uncomfortable to watch.


My first-ever episode. Friends have been trying to get me to watch for a while, but I never got around to it. I happened to catch the comic-store scene and I had to rewind and watch the whole thing. Not quite sure I have a handle on all of the characters yet but if this is a typical episode, I think it's time to rent the first season to catch up.


I really do think that Stuart misread the "coffe" signal. Even if he's a high functioning geek, I'm sure he doesn't get hit on my women all the time so he doesn't know all the code words.No one should be misreading "coffee" anymore, not since the "Seinfeld" episode where George figured it out all too late. 041b061a72


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