The Big Bang Theory "The Closure Alternative" Review: We Miss Alphas Too, But at Least No One Broke Up Over Buffy

The Big Bang Theory S06E12: "The Closure Alternative"

"They can't cancel it! It ended on a cliffhanger!" 

Oh Sheldon, sweetie, I've been harboring that kind of sorrow since Dark Angel got canceled—or, if we want to keep this strictly within the confines of the Sci-Fi/Syfy network's whims, since The Invisible Man got canceled. But Amy identified a deeper issue beneath Sheldon's dismay over the news that Alphas would not be returning to TV for a third season despite the cliffhanger conclusion to the second, and tried to break Sheldon of his "pathological need for closure." She gets an A for effort, even if, all training aside, girl really should've been prepared for Sheldon's resistance to her conditioning. She almost broke him, though. Almost. His face when Amy ordered him to prematurely pack up the dominoes was the dictionary definition of pathetic. I'm impressed that Sheldon made it long enough to outsmart Dr. Farrah-Fowler without finally succumbing to the urge to claw his own face into itty bitty bits of Sheldon confetti. I immediately pictured confetti made out of little die-cut Sheldon faces when he said that. Creepy... but also kind of cool? 

Meanwhile, Raj stumbled upon Lucy's blog while internet-stalking her—at least he embraced being a creepster—and panicked when she referred to him as "effeminate." It was a valid concern despite having roots in typical Raj misunderstanding/overreaction/etc. Since we weren't privy to the exact context of how Lucy used the word, we can't really pass judgement on Raj's freak-out session. He is effeminate. He knowhe's effeminate, and he also knows that it's been a big turn-off for women in his past. That Raj would do everything he possibly could to show Lucy how "manly" he could be was expected... right down to basically botching their date with bad, poorly prepared food and general overcompensation and weirdness. 


While all three of storylines in "The Closure Alternative" had their bright spots, the Raj-and-Lucy arc won the bonus round for being sincerely sweet and giving Raj a role beyond that of the sometimes-shallow-ambiguously-gay-chronically-underused guy. I keep waiting for Lucy and Raj to fall apart because the idea of Raj finally having a relationship that works and just feels "right" seems too good to be true. This episode could've easily been the end of Lucy/Raj, given that both parties are typically too awkward to actually speak to each other, and Lucy was clearly unnerved by Raj's facade. But then they talked like real people and it was amazing; they used words and everything, and they were understanding about one another's insecurities and willing to listen to concerns, and while Lucy's blase response to the revelation that Raj read her blog seemed a little convenient, her willingness to address her use of the word "effeminate" without getting upset or defensive was great. Also, gold star to Raj for hearing her out and not getting bent out of shape over the word even though, honestly, she probably could've come up with a better synonym that didn't have such blatant ties to rather negative connotations. Civil, genteel, fastidious, cultured, refined, tasteful, well-mannered—you get it. There are lots of words out there that describe what Lucy highlighted as good Raj traits but don't imply that those traits are exclusively "womanly." 

Once she explained herself, though, Raj understood, and she understood why he was acting weird, and they got over it the way healthy partners in healthy relationships do. Victory!

Then there's Penny and Leonard, the golden couple who, in the past, has repeatedly tried my patience with their on-again/off-again habits and seemingly eternal inability to move beyond their base characterizations of "awkward nerd" and "hot chick." Season 6 has had its rough patches when it comes to Leonard and Penny, but overall has made a noticeable effort to, well, make them suck less. After six seasons of Penny not understanding comics and then freaking out about how they somehow symbolize her and Leonard's incompatibility... it was just getting old, okay? 

Leonard roped Penny into watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer with him because it seemed like an ideal series for them to share. He was disappointed when Penny declared it "cute," and even more so when she could barely muster any enthusiasm to push through the rest of the season. So was Penny, but rather than let something as insignificant as a TV show shake the foundation of her relationship with Leonard, she talked things out with Bernadette and made one of the biggest breakthroughs we've seen from her when it comes to understanding Leonard and the others. It won't stop her from making snide comments about cosplay in the future, but that's fine. Penny doesn't have to love comics to be with Leonard. She doesn't have to be able to draw the Skywalker family tree or rattle off the U.S.S. Enterprise's registry number from memory. (Get your barf bags ready.) She just has to love him. Penny realized that her life is in a pretty good place right now, even slaving away at the Cheesecake Factory, and she has her friends to thank for that. She doesn't have to care about their favorite TV shows in order to care about them. Blah blah blah fuzzy feelings etc. I'm just glad she and Leonard didn't break up over Buffy. 


What did you think of "The Closure Alternative"?



THE STRAY OBSERVATION ADDENDUM

– One-liner of the night: "If they didn't want to get yelled at by crazy nerds, they shouldn't have started the Syfy channel." 

– Idk. I find it kind of hard to believe that Penny wasn't Buffy fan. It always seemed to be one of the few shows the cool kids and the dorky kids watched. 

– In case you forgot, Bernadette is a scary lady. 

– Howard's creep tendencies were in rare form. 

– How many angry phone calls over canceled shows do you think Syfy actually fields from the irate Sheldons of the world? 

– Brewbacca's coffee house. Yessss. 

Comments (87)
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I never watched Alphas; I basically have kept away from the SyFy channel in general post-name change. (though I watch Face Off religiously)

Sheldon's storyline is the ONLY redeeming factor of this craptastic episode. I especially loved Sheldon' rant about desire and Amy's expression because she knows EXACTLY where he's coming from... though in her case, it's lusting after the most asexual man on the planet.

Raj's relationship with Lucy seems just forced. I hate the fact that Raj has basically become a one-trick pony (he acts gay but he's straight.) when earlier episodes gave him a lot more depth, especially season 4 with his fantasies about Bernadette despite her being his best friend's girl. After Bernadette chewed him out on it in season 5, it's like they cranked up Raj's gay gimmick up to 11. And Lucy... dear god, Lucy... she doesn't nearly have the colorful personality Bernie, Amy, and Penny have. I admit, Bernie started off bland too, but she evolved in such a small amount of time that it's like looking at two entirely separate characters. Lucy has had four episodes. Bernie transformed to the woman we know now in just three. EVOLVE, DANG IT!

As for Leonard and Penny... I'm just hoping Priya comes back, begging Leonard for another chance. Now, for the record, I HATED Priya, given that she treated Leonard more as a servant rather than a boyfriend, but Leonard WAS in love with her and she was an excellent rival to Penny, Penny's past boyfriends coming to act as Leonard's rivals have gotten old, and their current situation has gotten boring. There's no real story to tell with them anymore, which is sad because I love Penny and Leonard. Leonard's had to fight tooth and nail to be with her and he succeeded, and he's a sweet, caring boyfriend. Let Penny fight for her man if she really loves him. (I know they set up Sheldon's assistant Alex as a possible romantic rival to Penny, but they haven't done anything with it since the Egg Salad Equivalency.)
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Sadly, I was never a Dark Angel fan, so my experience with cliffhanger-canceled showed is limited to Alphas and My Name is Earl.
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Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season till we were grateful it ended -Sheldon (I so can relate to this... I feel you.)
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Oh, Dark Angel! Now there was a show. Years on I'm still gutted that ended where it did.
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I agree Raj and Lucy story was the best plotline but for me the best line was Sheldon telling to Penny "I love you too".
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I heard Sheldon say "I love you too" to Penny and my head sssploded... nuff said :P
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Very fun episode to me. Amy trying to help Sheldon had me LMAO!!! My favorite part of the episode was when Sheldon tried to blow out all the candles on that cake, and Amy held a paper plate in front of the last two!! LOL!!!

I also loved the references to Buffy, Heroes, and Alphas. I still haven't seen how season 2 of Alphas ended, but I'll find out lol!! Personally, as far as sci-fi goes, I think Dark Angel got the worst of the cliffhanger series-ender shows.
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This episode was fun and did not make me barf at faked weirdness of the characters. That is a big compliment, that I could not give in a long time! More please. And at some point some non annoying penny leonard development please
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In the SciFi channel's defense, "The Invisible Man" didn't end on a cliffhanger.

It actually ended on a positive note that the team will soldier-on
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WHO DOESN'T LOVE BUFFY????? Or wants to call SyFy angrily?

But the big deal for me was the Sheldon storyline, because I also need closure. I knocked after Amy didn't finish the knocking and finished the word "option"... my mom does this thing when she begins a sentence then it takes her what it seems like forever to finish and then she forgets what she was going to say. Closure is important, is all I'm saying. And I miss Alphas.
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Buffy season 1-3: PERFECT...
Buffy Season 4: Meh
Buffy Season 5: Ugh.
Buffy Season 6 and 7: DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE!!!!
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I didn't mind 7. I know the quality went a little downhill but a bad Buffy season or episode is still better than most. Even bad Buffy is good Buffy.
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Well,if you watched Buffy,when it came out,you thought,what an awsome show. If anyone wants to watch it now,I think they would feel same way as Penny. First season is so painful in so many way,but mainly acting:D I am glad,I was that generation to appreciate it more:D Still,the song remains the same and is awsome ANYTIME I hear it.

Awsome episode and loved talk about other shows. Always love those...mentioning Heroes was probably the best of show in episode. Sheldon I love you...never a dull moment with you:D
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i could not disagree more, SMG acted her ass off when she overheard angel and giles talking about the prophecy in 'prophecy girl' iv seen buffy way too many times to actually count, i know all of the dialogue (especially the first few seasons) and that scene always gives me goosebumps, it was outstanding!!!!
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It's called opinion:D Buffy walked into classroom and bumped into hanging body...back then ok,now..really. Willow,Xander,Angel...they all had some bad scenes and acting as well as Buffy. They also had great scenes,but few years back,I wanted to watch from beginning and just couldn't. I am mainly talking about first season here.
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I think the season finale of Alphas ended things fairly nicely, if you just accept that they all died for some reason, so I didn't understand why Sheldon was so upset, there was enough potential closure there for me not to care.

And Buffy... She watched some of season 1.. Season 1 only shows some of the potential of later Buffy, and Leonard should have known that,, so that actually somehow bothered me.

The Raj plot felt a bit standard, but it was OK, the lack of forced drama towards the end there was what saved the plot for me.

My favorite line was Sheldon's comment about Heroes "gradual" decline in quality, because it's so true.
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I loved the Alphas reference. I hope SyFy takes notice and actually considers finishing it up.
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As a huge Buffy nerd I loved that it featured the series and praised it a little. I thought tis ep was funny aswell. Maybe they had a little too much going on, but then again if they featured the whole ep talking about Buffy, I would have loved it lol. The only thing

I criticise here is when Sheldon refered to Buffy as a cancelled series. It actually wasn't, so that was a factual error on their part.

All in all, I think it was an awesome show!! :D
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This episode put a smile on my face when I heard the references to a few of my favorite shows - Alphas, Heroes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
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Brewbacca's Coffee House, FTMFW!!!!

I don't know if the production companies or the Syfy Channel that airs them gets those kind of calls, but I bet you SOMEbody does.

About Penny and Buffy......I didn't find it very believable that she wouldn't know more about the show because she wants to be an actress. I know the show would've been on prior to her being an adult supposedly pursuing an acting dream, but the one thing a real aspiring actress would not do is turn their nose up at being more informed about the industry they hope to work in. Seriously, would Penny turn down a role offered to her on a Sci-Fi show just because it's not her thing? Hell no, just like working musicians don't turn down engagements that aren't their favorite kind of music to play. You learn it all so you can play it all, because dammit, there's bills to pay and the hope of more work to come. I can't see somebody who claims she wants to be an actress be so blase about an entire segment of the industry.
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Don't think SyFy gets enough angry phone calls...

I agree that Buffy would be one of those shows that both of them would get and understand.

Surprised Raj's date involved talking. Things do look like they're progressing for the couple nicely.
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Totally thought Penny would love Buffy. They should've used another show.
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Another wonderful episode. I enjoyed everyone, Sheldon still stole the show with a one liner again..... He looked up at Amy and said "Lucky for you, because I wished you were dead" and the way he said it; he really meant it. It was so funny, and great.

I would like more of Sheldon complaining about Amy. Also I'd like more Sheldon/Penny moments.

I think the show is at it's best when Sheldon and Penny are paired together. I hate Penny/Leonard, they are a bore to watch and a lame couple. Guess what? It's been 6 seasons, and they will NEVER work.
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Thank you, i dont like Penny and Leonard as a couple either, he so should of got with alex (if that was her name...i mean sheldons assistant). its been six yrs of on again off again between a couple with very little chemistry and who dont connect on any real level. they dont work together, time to get them to move on!
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Totally agree. I have been a Penny/Leonard shipper since the show began, but this episode really made me realize they have absolutely nothing in common. It seems like almost every time Leonard does anything to try and advance their relationship, Penny is either completely indifferent or totally freaks out. We know that before she met Leonard she dated a lot of jerks. I think now she's basically lying to herself and saying "I should be happy dating a nice, considerate guy who treats me well," but deep down inside she knows it's just not working, so she pulls away every time Leonard tries to get serious.
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The Sheldon/Penny dynamic really has become buried. I still enjoy the show, but when Penny and Sheldon shared an "I love you" at this episode's end - despite the ridiculous circumstances - I saw a glimpse of that dynamic. Penny and Sheldon have always shared a bizarre intimacy - maybe its that she's outgoing and loving like his Mom. It's a part of the show that works so well, it's a shame we see less and less of it over time.
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I agree, I feel like Buffy would have been the type of show Penny would like
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Alpha movie to wrap it up would be wonderful
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Um, didn't ANYBODY here find this episode funny? How could nobody have died laughing at Sheldon finally getting closure with everything, and then having a "dominorgasm?" and saying "I love you" to Penny? LOL.
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The episode, for me, was pretty meh. How can you not love Buffy, especially when you're a empowered girl like Penny? The Brewbacca's coffee house might be the best idea ever. I find it kind of sad that Penny has no passion. What's the point of waking up in the morning? If the Sheldon/Amy bit was quite funny, I didn't think Sheldon's attitude was quirky. Being a sucker for closure is something that I find normal (especially when it comes to TV show). Oh and Sheldon's comment about Heroes was hilarious. It was nice to see Raj and his girlfriend's relationship take a step forward.
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I really enjoyed this episode. All the TV references were a plus. I laughed with the Heroes' comment about its gradually declining quality making the viewers glad it was cancelled. Sheldon and Amy (or most commonly referred to as Shamy) entire OCD story was fun to watch and for a minute I even believed he changed... Also, this episode and this season as a whole really stepped up in the characters' development as individuals and as couples and managed to remain as funny or even funnier than previous seasons.
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It's funny because its true, and all genre fans know it. Heroes just got progressively worst.
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NBC shouldn't have changed the writers! Season 1 was brilliant, season 2 was great and then... went down the crap hole!
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Season 1 had Sylar as the villain, then they neutered him to keep him on the show. Honestly, he should either have been made a hero through and through, or killed off. They essentially handicapped all their characters in order to extend their arc.
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The episode was fine, but not great. I didn't even understand what Amy and Sheldon were doing about his terrrible loss.
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As the nerd I am I LOVED the references to Buffy and Alphas. Alphas is great and shouldn't have been canceled but Buffy is the best thing ever (pretty much). I grew up watching it. Own both Buffy and Angel on dvd and have watched it plenty of times. The only thing better than Buffy and Angel is Supernatural! :D
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sorry but that statement right their just made me dislike you, you say buffy is the best thing ever then you go to say supernatural is better than it, supernatural has been absolutely atrocious for 3 seasons, it needed to end at the end of season 5 (its intended ending) the writers can't decide when to kill a character off for good, castiel has died and been brought back so many times that i wouldnt care if they do kill him for good, bobby is exactly the same, and crowley has definitely over stayed his welcome as big bad villain. supernatural is a joke to what was once a very good show.
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Oh Sweetie. I couldn't care less whether you like me or not :)
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please don't call me sweetie
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All episodes of TBBT are at least good but this one didn't really go above that, I didn't really laugh out loud, there were 3 or 4 funny bits but that's all
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I actually have always been of the belief that Supernatural might appeal to Penny more than Buffy (like, if I were introducing my sister to this stuff, who loves Chelsea Handler, the E Network, and whatnot, and the only show I definetely know we both watch is Revenge, though I believe she watches Parks & Rec too, I might start with just the sheer eye candy portion of Supernatural and then just as Sam is stabbed by one of his co demon blooded children and she is still interested, then I would intro Buffy...heck, now I might do Teen Wolf and then Buffy to ease her in).

Raj's story was sweet, but unfortunately, I was kind ready to be uncomfortable the whole time that I think I missed the impact.

Okay, let me see if I can do my favorite line from my favorite storyline of the night...Firefly had a movie, Buffy continued on in comics, and Heroes lessened in quality season by season so we were fine with it leaving...that is not it exactly, but seriously that was funny (I too am curious what would have happened in the next season of Alphas...Gary was the only one awake! Of course, he guest starred on TBBT earlier this season, but still). I had this weird suspicion the last test would have been Amy directing Sheldon to go knock once on Penny's door.
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Dude, Sheldon's head would have exploded if Amy only let him knock once. I don't even know if ~I~ could have withstood it.

Oooh, I can see Penny getting into Supernatural. Good call.
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Nope, the storyline for Penny/Leonard did...not...work. For me. Seriously, if the relationship isn't prearranged or otherwise forced, then the couple should have at least a few interests in common. Otherwise, their enthusiasm "just for each other" will always compete with a constant inability to, for instance, have a meaningful conversation or share any activities.

If I may be so bold: compare it to Freaks and Geeks. The geek finally starts dating his crush, but then discovers that despite mutual admiration neither of them actually enjoy doing anything together. I know it's ridiculous to spend this much time analyzing the relationships on a laugh-a-minute comedy show, but well, the show brought it up.
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''Lucky for you...cuz I wished you were dead!'' hahaha...i actually laughed out loud at that.
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It was a good episode,they all are. But not - funny.Really funny.
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Somehow, Raj has become more creepy than howard. I had a dog once that I loved but I never ever tongue-kissed it.

But all in all a nice episode. Sheldon was hilarious
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I'm getting to where I don't even like Raj. He is pretty strange. Good episode never heard of Alpha's. Didn't know if it a real show or just made up.
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Alphas was a real show, ran for two seasons. Played in the same universe as Eureka and Warehouse 13
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My dog tongue-kisses me all the time--on command even. I must be creepier than I thought. ;) Agree, nice episode.
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Considering what parts of its own body a dog licks, then yeah, it's pretty disgusting, when you think about it ^^
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I'm surprised at the positive review to be honest. It was an obvious play on the characters stereotypes, which is usually slated. I was half expecting Penny to propose, but I guess they're saving that for the season finale...
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What no alphas season 3? why?
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Ratings blah blah. They at least could have thrown a proper ending together. Lame.
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Because the only shows that get good rating these days involve a Kardashian or singing and dancing warewolves?????
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Its not all bad; at least zombies and dragons are getting good ratings! Maybe Alphas should have put some of those in...
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"Because the only shows that get good ratings these days involve b*tches with little talent." (Fixed it for you.)
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Because the producers realised it was a snoozefest, probably.
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Jesus, MaryAnn, even I'm not enough of a geek to have watched The Invisible Man. It sits there in my Hulu queue, lonely and unwatched, with only Jupiter Moon and Weird Science to keep it company.
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I'm surprised but not very, though I assume your lack of I-man exposure has less to do with not being geeky enough and more to do with there not being a ton of foxy ladies running around the screen. They ARE there, but the focus is pretty much on Vincent Ventresca's abs and hair and hair and glorious hair.

So if you ever decide to hit up the fabulous late 90s/early 00s cheese and sausage fest, skip the pilot. There's a voiceover in the opening credits that tells you everything you need to know. The pilot bored me to tears.
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Ah. I wasn't really watching much TV at the time it was airing. Just a handful, all "genre fiction" (meaningless phrase which I hate): Xena, Dark Angel, Buffy, Angel, Stargate, X-Files, Roswell. I didn't even watch Alias until a couple of years ago. I don't remember even hearing about The Invisible Man when it aired. If not for Hulu, I wouldn't know it existed.
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Ugh. Dark Angel jumped the shark and made a sharp left turn into ridiculousness about 5 episodes in. It might as well have been running on Network23 (extreme geek reference).
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As that TV character said of that TV show: "Age of the geek". Embrace your inner geek! But I havent seen Weird Science either lol
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Man. Weird Science was terrific.
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The TV show? So not. I watched a season. It was hard. No matter how bored I get I can't bring myself to watch another episode.
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I liked it. Itwas low-budget, but they made it work.
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Vanessa Angel. 'Nuff said.
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Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season till we were greatfull it ended
LOL Sheldon
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Funniest shot at heroes ever!
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The Big Bang Theory S06E12: "The Closure Alternative". Nope, S06E21!
Love TBBT and Buffy:)
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Still need to watch the episode, but Buffy is my favorite show ever. So yeah, just wanted to write that.^^
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Leonard should try Chuck series next time. Penny be more like Sarah Walker if we want to enjoy this relationship.
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I like the way you review this show, but I have one lingering question after reading this ... was this episode funny at all?
In the end, that's all we should really care about ... trying to draw life lessons out of a sitcom just seems kinda un-productive to me :)
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That's not 100% true. Granted there are sitcoms whose sole function is to give us something to laugh at once a week, but the Big Bang Theory is not necessarily this type of sitcom. This show has character's who have developed over the years, and have evolved over the course of the show, and this has become one of the more significant aspects of the show. People want to see how the xenophobic Sheldon copes and adapts as a result of having a girlfriend who tries him as much as Amy does, they want to see how the "ersatz homsexual relationship" between Howard and Raj resolves itself. These qualities carry throughout the series, and are part of what make it unique and popular. So, granted it is a funny series that has lots of comedic moments, but I don't think someone reviewing the episode should be faulted for not expressly stating if the episode was funny or not.
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"She doesn't have to be able to draw the Skywalker family tree or rattle off the U.S.S. Enterprise's registry number from memory."

Ahem. Registry numberS. Plural.

"I find it kind of hard to believe that Penny wasn't a Buffy fan. It always seemed to be one of the few shows the cool kids and the dorky kids watched. "

No, they didn't, and Mr. Whedon has the ratings books to prove it. The highest they got was the #120 show, in season 5, in raw numbers they peaked at 5.3 million viewers, in season 3. By comparison, 8 Simple Rules was dropped for low ratings after falling to only 6.8 million viewers and 90th place in season 3.

A lot of places didn't even have a WB or UPN affiliate, and we know Penny grew up on a farm.
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A better line would be: "If they didn't want to get yelled at by crazy nerds, they shouldn't have renamed themselves SyFy."
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No mention of Sheldon's awseome quote...
"Firefly did a movie to wrap things up, BtVS continued on as a comic book, Heroes gradually lowered the quality season by season til we were grateful it ended."
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Tis funny cus its true. LOL
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my all time favourite show of all time!!!!!!!!!!!
I bet Syfy gets about a billion calls from angry nerds a day!!! Most recently about Alh=phas because THEY CANCELLED IT ON A CLIFFHANGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the worst injustice a network can do with a show.
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Nope! They can keep it running for two seasons when it's pants!
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And this, network chimps in suits, is why cliffhangers should be done away with forever. They certainly don't add new viewers to a show and they provide no additional motivation for existing fans to tune in next season. Nope, all they can do is leave a permanent, festering wound in the minds of fans when a show gets cancelled between seasons. Cliffhangers are things of pure evil.
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But... but... the cliffhanger ending worked really well that one time, when everybody was wondering "Who Shot J.R.?"

If there's one thing T.V. execs know, it's that if something works once, it'll work a million times...
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Thank god, another person who hates cliffhangers!! The only type of cliffhanger I can see a point to are midseason cliffhangers. Every show should wrap up its main story arc within that season like Dexter does.
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I don't know about that. I think cliffhangers add spice to a series, and if done well can reignite a fan's dwindling interest in a series. Granted, the Alphas cliffhanger was a bit too ambiguous to cause people to lose too much sleep over, but still.

Instead of doing away with cliffhangers, there should be some kind of fund that is available to series that are getting cancelled/ not getting renewed. Then viewers could vote/ choose who gets the money, and that money could be used to create a concluding episode, or to remake the last episode so that it ties up the story, depending on how things go. This was there are fewer fans who are left hugely disappointed, while at the same time allows for the people to have some minor amount of control over television and the shows they love
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I think it would be better if shows that had not already been renewed just stayed away from cliffhangers altogether. For shows that know they are coming back, cliffhangers are fine.
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That would only work in some cases though. Some shows are built on one big arc and that's their whole point. Take a show like "V" for example, which got cancelled after two seasons. How would you NOT end a season of V on a cliffhanger? Any kind of resolution to the story would be the end of the show. Or a show like Lost or Fringe. If you wrapped things up acceptably at the end of a season, seems like that would kind of be it for the show. What's left for a show like that to come back to if you don't have a cliffhanger?
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I was going to add the same thought. If you KNOW you're coming back, you can make a cliffhanger work and make your viewers come back to see how it wraps up. I still think they're overused but it's a nice tool to have around for a good story.
If you're on the bubble it's a terrible idea and networks are only half to blame. The producers and writers still wrote that cliffhanger, so they created the situation, too.

I more prefer the partial cliffhangers, where you wrap up the story arc but just tease the next one.
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