The Big Bang Theory "The Extract Obliteration" Review: Don't Be a Fool! Stay in School!

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Nov 02, 2012

The Big Bang Theory S06E06: “The Extract Obliteration”

Penny went back to school and didn’t want to tell Leonard because he’d make a big fuss over it. I suppose that’s fair, though it once again returns to the overarching Penny/Leonard problem of Leonard being eager to the point of obsessive and Penny insisting on keeping him at an arm’s length.

I won’t, however, complain about Penny rejecting Leonard’s “help” only to turn around and go to Bernadette and Amy for assistance with her slavery paper. She had every right to feel betrayed by Leonard’s actions—going behind her back and reading her draft when she explicitly told him not to, then having the nerve to rewrite it “better” and encourage her to turn in his paper under her name.

1. That’s insulting. It really is like calling Penny a moron to her face.

2. That’s risky. Plagiarism is kind of a big deal, kids.

3. There are just certain things that one should do on one’s own in life. Like college.

While Penny’s inferiority complex when it comes to her highly educated friends tends to come and go week by week depending on TBBT's need for conflict, it was in full swing in "The Extract Obliteration," which added weight and credibility to Penny’s decision to take classes at the local community college. She was proud of her decision and she was fully aware that, compared to her friends, it wasn’t all that impressive of a thing, but in the context of her own life, it was a huge step.

Leonard certainly meant well and his concern that a bad grade could discourage Penny from moving forward in her education was valid, but how was essentially telling her that her effort wasn’t good enough any better? At least the professor is, theoretically, impartial, and the grade impersonal. Leonard’s complete rewrite of Penny’s paper was akin to giving her an ‘F’—and considering his personal relationship with her, I think that flunking grade probably hurt the more than something from her prof ever could.

Amy and Bernadette were a different situation because Penny sought them out on her own; however, the idea that they too simply wrote a paper for Penny to slap her name on doesn’t sit entirely right with me. I would have expected them to value academic integrity as well, and the eagerness to ghostwrite in an educational setting just irks me. It’s not like the only option would have been to (theoretically) let Penny fail. While she is a delicate flower still trying to take root in academia, if Penny is serious about finishing college, she’s going to have to accept that criticism is a fact of life—and it’s not a bad thing! Being told “this paper could have been better” does not mean “you are hopeless and should drop out immediately.” There is nothing wrong with Penny seeking assistance from her more seasoned friends—APA citations are a bitch. MLA is only marginally kinder. Do not get me started on Turabian.

But if Penny is to truly grow and take something of value away from her classes, she needs to do the bulk of the work herself.

Integrity became an issue in Sheldon’s storyline as well, though with far fewer implications for his career as a game of Words With Friends with Stephen Hawking became heated, then stalled, and Howard let slip that the brilliant scientist is actually quite the sore loser. Sheldon had hoped that completely dominating his idol during their match would shine favorably upon his intellect and lead to professional collaboration and personal friendship. In actuality, when Sheldon’s lead became impressively obscene, Hawking simply stopped playing. Howard encouraged Sheldon to throw the game if he really wanted to work with Hawking and after a moment of deliberation that involved invoking Mama Cooper, Noah’s Ark, and Sheldon’s skepticism of the whole two-by-two thing, Sheldon ultimately decided to throw the game. I was actually surprised. For as much as Sheldon hero-worships Stephen Hawking, I thought he loved being right more. Right?

The Stray Observation Addendum

– One-liner of the night: “He’s a genius and he talks like a robot, two things I always wanted in a friend.” —Sheldon on Stephen Hawking

– Amy being awkward (and proud): “I once looked in Sheldon’s underwear drawer. He yelled at me, but I saw it and he can never take that away.” Uh, high five?

– Stephen Hawking trash-talking Sheldon was a thing of beauty.

  • Comments (38)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • ltcomstella Nov 07, 2012

    what no mention of penny cringe worthy 'impression of leonard ?'

    the ep was great till that bit..

    then penny imo just turned into a 5 year old who spat her dummy out.. for all the growth she showed so far that one scene threw it in to a black hole and is now non existant.

  • sandorxian Nov 07, 2012

    Penny is a moron, and an ugly one at that., but of course this whole show is targeted at a moronic audience. Two and a half men for wannabee nerds.

  • zampognaro Nov 07, 2012

    This whole season I've been annoyed at the turn Penny's character and her relationship with Leonard has been taking, so imagine my excitement to see that they had finally decided to let her character grow - it's about time Penny starts doing something with her life. So many positive moves were made by her during this episode - she took a class, shouted at Leonard for being a moron, made fun of him after getting a B- .... and then ... they completely ruin it at the end of the episode, by having Bernadette and Amy write the paper for her! What the heck was that all about?! So, basically, what you're telling us, is that her character will never grow, the relationship of her friends and boyfriend will never make any sense, we were fooled for 30 minutes, etc.

    I would have even accepted it, maybe, if at the end she said something like "This is the last time I will need any help from you - I will do this on my own ... bla bla bla", but no .. the writers decided it would be funnier to turn her into a complete prom queen super-b*tch (no offence to prom queens :-P). I know this is a sitcom, and common sense is not always a requirement, but I cannot even begin to describe how much things like these p*ss me off.

    Anyway .. I hope they fix this soon. I'm really disliking Penny right now and seriously disliking her relationship with Leonard (I see absolutely no reason why they would be together this long, sorry). I hope they break up soon.

    Ok .. rant over. I liked this episode (except for the last Penny scene, of course). TBBT still manages to make me laugh after 6 seasons - not bad!

    Hawking's trash talk was pure comedy genius :-D

  • jbwhite1999 Nov 05, 2012

    I'm just amazed that Sheldon has friends to begin with - just so he can play Words with Friends.

  • 134sc Nov 05, 2012

    Comedy is a funny thing (pun intended).

    In my expierience if a comedy show goes on for multiple seasons it is only a matter of time before the characters become caricatures of their past selves. The longer a comedy show goes on, everything that made it popular in the first place, begins to have the opposite effect. Chracters grow and change throughout a series, usually hitting their peak around season 5 or 6. If the show continues past those seasons the characters can remain stagnant. Sure things happen to push the story further along, but the actual characters very rarely continue to grow. This is because the show is no longer what it once was, what made it popular to begin with. So the characters do not continue to grow in order to try and get the show back to initial elements that made it pheonomenal in its early life; the irony being that it is not as good as it used to be because it is trying to be just that. Its a vicious cycle.

    Tying it all back to TBBT, I think this is where the show is going. The characters are becoming stagnant (how may times have Penny and Leonard argued about her smarts, or lack thereof). When characters stop growing and rivert to there old selves they are not as believable anymore, it may still be funny, but they have lost something.

    A great example is Barney in HIMYM, he was a womanizer, then he fell for Robin, then he had a string of serious relationships that didn't work out, then he went back to his womanizing ways. Granted it was still funny, but not like it used to be, because Barney is way past that now and to see him acting in that way is hard to buy into.

    Sheldon is the only charcater on TBBT, that in my opinion, has continued to grow. But it is for that reason that he is not as funny as he used to be, but if he didn't grow it would have got old fast. Sometimes you are damned no matter what you do.

    Now all that being said TBBT theory is one of my favorite shows and I will always be watching. It still makes me laugh, which is half the battle right there. I am just aware that it will not be as good as it once was.

  • GiorgosStergi Nov 04, 2012

    I love this season! I rofl everytime

  • Skoad Nov 04, 2012

    This was definitely the best episode of the season so far. Tons of laughs and good comedy. I dont care what the haters say, this show is still great.

  • Rolamb Nov 03, 2012

    Ik loved the episode, it made me laugh out loud and that is waht comedy should do. It was the first time this season so it was really welcome.

    I also think that's it's a shame that Mary Ann's review almost doesn't mention the fact that it was funny (only in the notes) and what was so good about it. It has been so over all her reviews this season (don't know about the ones last year). You seem so much more interested in drama part of the comedy then in the comedy part. That is an intersting way of looking at a comedy.

  • JustinJohnson9 Nov 03, 2012

    Personally, I liked everything about this episode. Penny took a big step starting community college, and I think keeping it from Leonard and wanting to pass/fail on her own merits was commendable. It was quite hilarious that she would still go to Amy and Bernadette for help though. In fact, she was practically using them lol!!! Also her impersonation of Leonard had me rolling!!!

    I also loved Bernadette's lines about mistakenly using Howard's mom's undies as a towel. There were just so many funny lines and moments in this episode. I was quite impressed.

  • piabiz Nov 03, 2012

    One of the best shows ever.

  • See More Comments (16)