The Big Bang Theory: The Five Labors of Sheldon Cooper

The Big Bang Theory S05E21: “The Hawking Excitation”


Howard Wolowitz has gotten a lot of flack over the years for being the only guy in his group of friends without a PhD to his name, and the worst offender by far has been Sheldon Cooper, ScD.

This week, the joke was on Sheldon when Howard was hired as a tech to work on Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair. Even Penny knows who Stephen Hawking is: “He’s the wheelchair dude who invented time.” The others were excited by the opportunity to meet the theoretical physicist, but none of them were as fanboy-tastic as Sheldon, who penned a paper right up Hawking’s alley. He pleaded with Howard to give Hawking the paper and it looked like Howard would agree...until Sheldon yet again insulted his M. Eng.

Ah, the classic “I have something that you want” trope. It would have been a shame to let that pass and Howard knew it. Thus began the tale of The Five Labors of Sheldon Cooper (loosely adapted from The Twelve Labors of Hercules).


Labor #1: Polish Howard’s Massive Belt Buckle Collection

This wasn’t so bad. Well, it wasn’t so bad until Howard pointed out his habit of standing too close to the urinal, resulting in unfortunate splashback. (Really, dudes? Is this a common problem?) He handed Sheldon a blacklight to check his work and warned him not to shine it around the rest of the room. I couldn’t tell if Howard was being serious, or just trying to traumatize Sheldon a little more. I don’t think it matters.

Sheldon went the extra mile and buffed those bad boys with Turtle Wax. The man at the auto supply store told him it would repel any future splashback droplets. Ew.


Labor #2: Wear the French Maid Costume

Once upon a time, Howard bought a sexy French maid costume for Bernadette to spice things up in bed. She was, of course, not down with the idea and when Howard handed the box over to Sheldon, Sheldon assumed that the next task would be to return the costume to the sexy costume store.

Not quite.

Man, Jim Parsons has some really pale man thighs.


Labor #3: Take Mama Wolowitz Out on the Town

Labor numero tres has the distinction of being my favorite task, as well as the one I found most horrifying, which is saying a lot considering the aforementioned alchemy of turning car wax into pee repellent—though, technically, isn’t car wax already pee repellent? Kinda sorta?

Anyway, Labor #3 is my favorite because Bernadette came up with it and I love when Bernadette goes from sweet and adorable to ruthless and moderately evil in a mere two seconds.

Howard shared his gleeful trail of revenge with Bernadette, who chastised him for torturing his supposed friend until Mrs. Wolowitz hollered up to their room to remind Bernadette about their impending dress shopping adventure scheduled for the next morning.

Bernadette cringed and yelled back down that she was busy, but Sheldon would take her. She was entirely unrepentant and that was just COLD.

The disturbing part was the shopping trip itself. Mama Wolowitz needed help folding herself into the dress she chose. When Sheldon protested, she assured him that it was just like “rolling a sleeping bag.” Oh god.


Labor #4: Do Howard's Laundry

Sheldon washed Howard’s leopard print man panties and all I could think was, “How did Howard EVER get laid?”


Labor #5: If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

At the end of it all, Howard admitted that all he really wanted was for Sheldon to give him a compliment. “I want you to tell me that I’m good at what I do.”

It took a great deal of effort, but Sheldon finally managed it, “You’re OBVIOUSLY good at what you do.”

Aww. That was sweet, Sheldon.

Now, if only he had stopped there instead of continuing, “I never said that you’re not good at what you do. It’s just that what you do is not worth doing.”

Leonard pointed out that backhanded compliments are really the only kind that Sheldon is capable of giving, and that his statement to Howard was nicer than most of the “compliments” that Sheldon had given Leonard in the past.

Howard accepted it and admitted that he had given Hawking Sheldon’s paper three days earlier.


So Sheldon got to meet his idol, who complimented him on the paper and then pointed out an arithmetic mistake on page 2 that discredited everything that followed. I loved that when Sheldon fainted out of mortification, Stephen Hawking mocked him: “Great. Another fainter.”



The Stray Observation Addendum and Questionnaire

– I love the action figures in Howard’s room and I’m amused that they’re almost all female heroes. I spotted Jade and Silk Spectre. Who else did you notice?

– I totally understood Sheldon’s Halloween dilemma. He dressed up as Stephen Hawking one year and everyone mistook him for R2D2. When I was 12, I dressed up as Princess Leia and everyone thought I was a nun despite the fact that I was carrying a freaking lightsaber. And yes, I know, there is no Leia lightsaber action in A New Hope. I wanted the lightsaber. I was 12. No judging—Halloween can be a hard time for a nerd. Have you ever experienced similar costume confusion?

– Still no Amy Farrah-Fowler, which was unfortunate. I think she would have been a fun and reluctant sidekick on Sheldon’s labors.

– What did you think of the episode?

Comments (27)
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To be honest I didn't notice Amy being gone, then again I think it is better she not be there then force her into a scene for the sake of her being in a scene.



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Looking for some help; in the second pic (above), just over Sheldon's right shoulder, who/what is the bikini-clad, red-skinned, double-horned (I think?) character/action figure? (I"m referring to the figurine that's just a hair taller than the lava lamp.) Thanks for any/all help!
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That my friend is Darth Talon. She is a Twi'lek Sith from the Star Wars universe. If you have seen the Star Wars movies then you would recognize the race from Jabba's palace as one of the dancing girls.



Here is a link for details on that statuette.

http://www.mwctoys.com/REVIEW_081810a.htm
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Who is better than you? Thanks for the info and the link - girlfriend will be very happy now...which means I'll be very happy...
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Sheldon's reaction to finally getting to meet Stephen Hawking was pretty good, but I don't think anything will top what happened when Penny gave him Leonard Nemoy's used napkin.
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I enjoyed it. It had me laughing. It didn't bother me at all that Amy wasn't in this episode; it's not necessary for every regular to be in every episode. My favorite scene is a toss-up between the scene in the dress shop (with the camera moving closer and closer to the curtain) and the scene with Penny in the laundry room. Then again, some of my favorite scenes in the show in general have been the interactions between Sheldon and Penny.
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I miss Amy Farrah Fowler
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-Loved the action figures as well, I noticed one of the new Starfire

-I have been missing Amy but I think Sheldon needed to go this one alone

-I loved this episode. Sheldon is, well, Sheldon and I think sometimes it good for him to be punished. Everyone usually bows down to his every whim and he should be humbled every once in a while.
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I thought the TV.com staff was supposed to REVIEW episodes, not RECAP them. All this does is break down the episode scene by scene, without offering any insight, criticism or anything. Save towards the end, when the author just points out the lack of Mayim Bialik. You wanna roll with the big dogs like Tim, Price and Lily, two words. TRY HARDER.
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You mean the site with the photo_recap_ treasury? I don't recall reading a mission statement that says any such thing. Most times when Price and Lily and Tom write something there's someone saying "I thought you were supposed to be objective and not have an opinion". I'm getting the impression the only way to make everyone happy with the kinds of articles on the site is to put a big banner on the front page saying "you will find the following types of things herein" and then listing every conceivable type of article that might be written.
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That's two ENTIRELY different things, believe you me. Lily and Tim and Price may do PHOTO recaps, but in their ACTUAL review, they comment/criticize scenes, how it worked, what it meant toward the plot, for characters of future story lines. THIS was just someone telling people what they already knew from the episode. It was just a written reenactment. Literally, it does nothing but tell you what happened from scene to scene. It added no insight, no criticism, no nothing. So it can't even be considered a review, because there WAS NO reviewing involved!
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I'm still confused. Where was the indication that this was a review? Maybe my expectations are low, but the only thing I think I've been promised when I come here is posts about TV. The only thing I get disgruntled about is when they have an article about someone like Whitney Houston, whose TV cred is that she was in a TV movie that one time and on an episode of Gimme A Break that other time (in other words, irrelevant).
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it IS a review when the article begins with the shows title-season/episode number and episode title.. for all the other stuff, they do not involve this data.. they recently added that for to seperate episode reviews from other stuff.. so there really is nothing to be confused, it pretty much is clear.. and when it is a review, one has all the right in the world to expect one.. and I cannot agree more with the argument of "needing to trying harder in order to roll with the big dogs".. in all of Price's recaps there is valuable analysis, whereas this text lacks it completely..
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Where did you get the idea you were always reading reviews? Sometimes, they are reviews, sometimes they are random BS like who is your favorite secondary character. It's articles about TV, you don't have to put everything in a box. You really don't want to get into the whole seniority pissing match with me, when I started coming here the place was called TV Tome. And seriously, did you just diss Firefly? That's an automatic fail.
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Okay, so I'M the one that's wrong. I've been using this site for years, reading reviews that the staffers of this website write. The four main writers ALL do reviews. Even during the week in review and pitting TV channels against each other, they still review the channels themselves. But I'M wrong for calling out the ONE author and the ONE article that doesn't fit into the mold, because I have expectations of a website that does REVIEWS. Yeah, okay... *eye roll* What else should I expect from someone with a Firefly icon. Low expectations you have indeed.
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Awesome episode!!!!!!!!!!! But I missed Amy Farrah Fowler!
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I was glad the the episode's quality was worthy of one having Stephen Hawking. I did miss Amy, but I think she's back next week. Maybe Mayim Bialik was off swapping insane parenting techniques with Alicia Silverstone.
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Actually, you aren't too far off the mark. :-) Mayim was off promoting her book on parenting techniques. She's supposed to be back for the next episode ("The Stag Convergence") and, presumably, the remainder of the season.
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I thought this episode was hilarious without Amy in the episode everything was back to the old days where it was just the guys and even Bernadette and Penny didnt have more than 1 min in this episode with i actually like although i like to have more Penny time because she is way too funny in the show
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-Didn't notice the action figures.

-Nothing to quite that extent. I dressed up as Robin Hood and a couple of people thought I was Peter Pan, but that's about the worst of it.

-That and very little of any of the girls. Penny was in one shot and that's it.

-I liked it. Big fan of Stephen Hawking in real life, the man is brilliant.
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I didn't like this ep. I mean Howard was so mean for Sheldon and making him do all those things was just stupid and lame. And no, I wasn't laughing at Sheldon, when he was wearing french maid outfit. This was humiliating and this episode just reminded me why I can't stand Howard.
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well sheldon deserves much more than that, howard was really nicer than what I would have been..
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I don't know, unfortunately I didn't really enjoy the episode. The Stephen Hawking cameo was great, but Howard's tasks for Sheldon just grossed me out...
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Which, of course, was the whole idea. It *IS* Howard, after all. :-)
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Splashback is a somewhat common problem, but not that high. I would think Howard's room would definitely be covered in blacklight-reflected stains, both from his ample personal time, and now his relations with a real woman.



The French Maid costume gag came WAAAAAY too early in this, but the fact that Sheldon wore it with little complaint was the funniest part. All men who aren't models have pale thighs and legs in general.



Sheldon with Mrs. Wolowitz wasn't as amusing to me just because it was a broader level of farce, and not once did genius Sheldon say anything about finding a larger size. Also, there was missed opportunity to point out his mother-issues interacting with the Wolowitz mother.



Howard's requirement to get a compliment was a bit dubious, I cannot imagine a physicist seeing no value in an engineer's work, physical sciences are a vital expression of physics and also necessary to create the tools that advanced physicists like Sheldon use to prove things like the Higgs Boson. Then again, Howard having left-over pieces from the wheelchair did not help his case.



The Hawking moment was pretty funny too.



Technically, Howard had female comics character mini-busts, not action figures. If it can't stand because it doesn't have its legs, it's an art piece. Also, the 18" Princess Leia figure he has is not an action figure as it has no moving parts, it's a Sideshow Premium Format 1:4 scale statue. Speaking of geekery, I love Luke's Return of the Jedi lightsaber, but I still don't understand why Howard has TWO of them on his wall. They make almost every other saber in the films in that Force FX line, and nearly all are better than that Luke ROTJ piece.



Anyway, cute episode, not a lot from Leondard or Raj, no Amy as you mentioned, but a fun little episode. I'd wonder if Sheldon had personal growth here, but they've shown no interest on this series of doing that, so it's just a smaller episode for it.
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A normal physicist would see enormous value in an engineer's work, sure. But this is Sheldon, after all: in his world, if it's not about Sheldon, it's not important. He's simply not capable of expressing appreciation for the work of others, not without extreme effort (and, as we've seen, often in a backhanded way). It's unrealistic, but this show has never had anything other than a fleeting relationship to reality anyway. :-)
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I enjoyed it, my favorite bit was Bernadette's scene in the bedroom.



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