So I decided it was time to review another episode of something, but what? Then it occurred to me that I did a whole month of series finaleâ€™s in May, why not do series premiereâ€™s in September? I had an idea all year for a whole series on â€œpilotâ€ episodes which never really made it off the ground. But that doesnâ€™t mean I canâ€™t discuss one now. So today letâ€™s talk about the very first episode to a series which some love, and others hate! A series I have already talked a lot about.
As the series starts its eighth season in a week, letâ€™s talk about the pilot episode and see if the show has evolved for better or for worst.
Plot Summary: Leonard and Sheldon meet their new neighbor, a perky woman named Penny who hails from Nebraska. Leonard is instantly smitten with her and agrees to help her with a favor involving her former boyfriend. And the results donâ€™t work out as planned.
Best Line:â€ In the winter, that seat is close enough to the radiator to remain warm, and yet not so close as to cause perspiration. In the summer, it’s directly in the path of a cross-breeze created by opening windows there and there. It faces the television at an angle that is neither direct, thus discouraging conversation, nor so far wide as to create a parallax distortion. I could go on.â€â€¦.classic Sheldon.
Standout Character: Leonard, He’s convincingly shy, watching this and seeing how far his character would evolve is fascinating.
Nitpick of the Episode: This is not a nitpick but I had no other place to discuss this. This is actually the second pilot, there was a first which was a bit a different. Yeah Leonard and Sheldon were it in it but that was it. The pilot featured two other ladies who were apparently supposed to be the romantic interests for both guys. One of the ladies was a bit hard nosed and not nearly as sweet as Penny would be. As you can guess, while Sheldon was in it he wasnâ€™t quite the Sheldon we know and love today (he was sexually active!). Also rather the Barenaked Ladies song the theme was the 80â€™s tune â€œShe Blinded Me with Scienceâ€. Thank god that was changed! Iâ€™ve only seen pieces on YouTube but it looked awful!
Syndication Edit: Sheldon and Leonard arriving at the sperm bank; Penny asking what the two were going to do for fun was also cut (and if you hear Sheldonâ€™s answer youâ€™ll understand why).
Final Thoughts: This pilot really impresses me because the series really didnâ€™t change very much after. Very often a pilot episode is so different from the main series in some ways that itâ€™s staggering. Here the big difference is Sheldon, and even that is minor stuff. He isnâ€™t quite the pain in the neck he would become, giving up his spot at one point and allowing Penny to sit there. Oh ok itâ€™s at Leonardâ€™s urging but in later episodes Sheldon would never have done that. The episode opens with a sperm bank, and that just reeks of Chuck Lorre. The idea that Sheldon would even consider that is contrary to his later character. Also it takes a while to establish Sheldon’s need to knock three times on someone’s door. When I first watched the pilot I wasn’t sure it really was because it blends intoÂ the rest of the series very smoothly. Maybe because it was their second, I don’t know.
The main focus of the story is Leonard meeting Penny and being instantly smitten with her. Even though she is way out of his league and she clearly doesnâ€™t seem him that way. Of course this would start the will they/wonâ€™t they romance the two will have for the next seven seasons. We also meet Howard and Raj and for the most part the characters are the same. Howard is a jerk who hits on Penny instantly and Raj canâ€™t speak to women (though he does speak with Penny in the room rather than whisper in Howardâ€™s ear, another thing that would be changed).
The major focus of the second half of the episode involved Leonard and Sheldon confronting Pennyâ€™s ex-boyfriend and coming back in their underwear. The story is ok, though it feels odd for a pilot episode. Itâ€™s obvious they were going for some kind of shock value and two guys wearing their underwear must have been it. They also may have been going for the easiest nerd stereotype they could think if and arenâ€™t all nerdâ€™s pantsâ€™d? Kind of offensive but it is the first episode and usually in pilot creators are just trying things to see what sticks. Thankfully they realized having the guys get picked on would not be funny over and over. The good thing is that this incident isnâ€™t forgotten it does get brought back up.
So I said at the start that I wanted to look at the pilot and see if the show has gotten better, or has it lost its way. While the characters are basically the same (and the apartment is the same which is rare) I have to admit while still watchable the show as a whole is definitely not the same today. The shift is more on the romance than the science which was what made the show funny. It feels more and more like they are trying to be Friends (maybe that’s why they held out for so much money!). But on the plus side the characters have clearly all grown which I like to see. Howard matured, Penny grew up, Leonard got more confidence, Raj learned to talk to women, and Sheldonâ€¦..is still there. And adding characters doesn’t hurt, Leslie Winkle vanished but Amy and Bernadette made a good fit and their dynamic probably keeps the show going. How will this show last another three whole seasons? Heck if I know.
Grade-A-, still some kinks to work out but overall a very strong pilot
I hope you all liked this. I have been wanting to do an article for a long time about pilot episodes that had to be done twice or which are different from the main series in some ways. It was going to be a series but I think I will settle for one article. Hopefully I can get that out in some form for you guy sometime very soon.