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The Big Bang Theory "The Santa Simulation" Review: Does This Episode Deserve Cookies or Coal?

The Big Bang Theory S06E11: “The Santa Simulation”

Dear Santa,

I know, I know—it’s been awhile. Like Sheldon, I mildly resent the limitations of your powers, HOWEVER, the Barbie Fold N’ Fun House you brought me when I was five years old is still a warm holiday memory and because of that, I think his refusal to rescue you during Leonard’s epic North Pole-themed Dungeons & Dragons quest was a mite harsh. I hope your festive sweatshop isn’t suffering too much of a backlog due to the apparent slaughter of half your workforce. Sheldon’s love can apparently be won back with a heartfelt offering of at least three trains, if his nightmares are anything to go by. And please remember, Santa, at the end of the day, D & D is just a game. I know the guys I hung out with as a teenager claimed it was a “lifestyle” but, well, they’re creepy. And still single.

I’ll admit that I’m prone to faux-barfing my way through the holiday-themed episodes of most TV shows just because— actually, I don’t have a good reason, Santa, other than a mild “tradition” allergy. Very Special Holiday Episodes come out of the woodwork every season and unless they feature homicidal Santas, most of them just kind of melt together like that pile of gooey half-baked cookie dough currently congealing in the bottom of my oven. (So FYI, you’ll be getting cupcakes this year.)

While The Big Bang Theory’s “The Santa Simulation” managed to avoid the worst of the Christmas cliches with its hypothetical elf slaughter and your little cannon-wielding cameo in Sheldon’s nightmares, it instead fell into a pile of its own series staples (ouch), for better or worse. I thought that maybe I could help you decide whether the show gets cookies or coal in its stocking this year by helpfully documenting the good and the bad of “The Santa Simulation” for you. Consider it part of my penance for being mean to Glee on a fairly regular basis and cheering for the demon nun over on AHS.



Reasons to give The Big Bang Theory ALL the coal:

1. Admittedly, I giggled at Raj joining the Girls' Night Out after getting his character’s face blown off prematurely in the D & D quest, but how many “Raj is a woman” jokes do we actually need?

2. Similarly, The Big Bang Theory seemed to be aiming for some sort of record as to how many Amy-is-fugly jokes it could cram into one episode.

3. This was the second consecutive episode to feature a "traumatic childhood" pissing match between the guys. The point has been made. Repeatedly.



Reasons to NOT give TBBT coal:

1. Stu! I actually asked the TV where the hell Stu has been the past few weeks (When are the elves going to perfect the sentient television technology, Santa?) seconds before he was invited to Leonard’s epic D & D party. However, even though I'd missed Stu, I could have done without the detailed description of his bowel movements.

2. The gentle mockery of Raj’s double standard regarding women in his dating pool. When Penny, Amy, and Bernadette offered to set him up with a chick during their “ladies' night,” Raj insisted that they refrain from mentioning his wealth because he wanted a woman who cared about him for HIM... but she also had to be, like, super hot. Nines and tens only, maybe eights if they’re particularly frisky. I’d say leave Raj some coal, but I think he learned his lesson.

3. Stu’s rant against Amazon (it hurts the little businesses like his comic shop) and Leonard’s counterargument (he can order stuff while he’s on the toilet). Oh man—so torn, so guilty.

4. Melissa Rauch in that red dress. I mean damn, girl.


Santa, I hope that this quick note helps you to make a more informed decision when you’re overexerting the reindeer and eating yourself into a diabetic coma in the coming weeks. The Big Bang Theory isn’t a bad show and certainly doesn’t aim to end up on your naughty list, but it seems that for every nice gesture made, like the delightful D & D quest that Leonard concocted PURELY to force Sheldon into indulging in some Christmas crap, a slew of lazy over-reliance on the cheapest aspects of some of it’s core characters tends to put the brakes on my laughfest.

It’s up to you now, Santa. I trust you to make the right decision.

Kisses!

Love,
MaryAnn




The Stray Observation Addendum


– One-liner of the night: “An eight is acceptable if she’s willing to bring another eight to the hot tub.” —Raj

– How do you think Santa should gift The Big Bang Theory’s “The Santa Simulation”? Coal or cookies?

Comments (78)
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No more than Raj and Bernadette and later on Raj and Penny were destined to be together. Been there, done that. TWICE. Add Amy and it would be like beating a dead horse.
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is it only me or raj and amy are destined to be togerher?

i mean, it's obvs she won't be w/sheldon the way she wants to be, she won't have the relationship she wants so much, and raj is alone and wants the same, so why not?

OF COURSE, i think that raj should date some nice guy (b/c he's SO BI) but it won't happen on this show, so amy is the best candidate imo. team #ramy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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At this point, I figure Raj needs the most tomboyish girlfriend this show could find. Cookies all around!
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While the girls modeling their dresses was certainly some delicious eye candy, that in no way saved the show. it triumphed all on it's own. as Holiday episodes go, they'll never top "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis" where Penny gives Sheldon Leonard Nimoys Autograph (and DNA) and he's so stunned he hugs her. But this was still a thoroughly entertaining episode with lots of big laughs. not sure why coal would even be considered.
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This show brings me joy. Even when it's silly to the point of obnoxiousness, I adore TBBT and I say not just cookies, but really, really good cookies. And MaryAnn, I really don't think you get this show, or that you like or care much about it. Reading your non-reviews harshes my buzz. To TBBT, may you long prevail!
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"Santa is dead and I picked this over having sex with my girlfriend". Definitely cookies, t'was a funny episode.
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Amy: "Once I passed out at a frat party and woke up with MORE clothes on."

That probably got the biggest laugh out of me. Although I didn't technically clothe her, it also reminded me of this time at a party when a girl passed out on the bed and I put a jacket over her body like a blanket. I wonder if she woke up and was disappointed.
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Have you seen Kaley Cuoco's reaction after Amy said that? She works hard supressing a laugh :)
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It was okay. I can see them making Raj gay but it wouldn't work.
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For a holiday episode it could have been a lot worse. Sure you had some cliche moments like the bit with Sheldon singing or the bells but at least they were played for laughs. The whole Raj being a woman or gay has been a running joke for years but it is getting to be a bit much, even Stuart is seeing it.

On that note it was good seeing Stuart as part of the group. I would like to see more story for him outside of being Raj's substitute Howard. Flesh him out a bit more, maybe get him a love interest, like one of Raj's sisters.

I will admit that things did take a dark turn when Sheldon turned the game around and his feelings about his Grandfather emerged. It really wasn't dealt with after that either other than in the dream. Rather than that, they could have just had him turn on Santa in the game because he wanted to make the quest more interesting or to stick it to Leonard and his Christmas cheer. They could have still had the dream at the end without the Grandfather angle.

Like I said, the episode could have been worse. Most of the time in a holiday episode you have some sappy life lesson thrown jammed down your throat. Here all I could see as a lesson was save Santa from a dungen or he'll blast you with a cannon.

And I must say that Bernadette and Penny looked good in those dresses. We have seen Penny in such an outfit but I never thought Bernadette had it in her. Of course it was all the funnier by the fact that it was made perfectly clear that Amy doesn't have it in her even if she thought Sheldon would notice.
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I'm clearly a typical shallow man. I'm sure the episode was sub-par but then Penny in the black dress....... Damn my fickleness!
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Coal .. that was quite bad.
Although Penny in that black dress and "HO HO HO you big dork .. " boom!! almost made me change my mind. Almost. :-)
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There's one thing that makes this episode deserve cookies. WHEN PENNY REMOVED THAT TRENCH COAT. <3
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COAL. Worst ep of the season so far - and coming off two excellent eps the last couple weeks highlighted just how bad it was. The x-mas stuff felt forced and the Raj bit just wasn't funny. As MaryAnn said it did have some good parts, but wow for the first time this year I think the bad outweighed the good. I blame most of this on what felt like a very forced x-mas ep. Hopefully all will return to normal next time as Big Bang is usually one of the best shows on tv.
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I thought it was a great and very original Christmas show.
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Guys? I missed the episode where Raj got over his fear of women. When and how did that happen, that he was able to speak in front of the girls without the aid of alcohol?
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I actually noticed this more last week, when Raj was clearly speaking to Penny about how as a kid, he used to hang out at his dad's office. I just kind of wrote it off by thinking Raj had gotten over it in regards to Penny because they've slept together and moved on, or because they've hung out a lot.

I thought about it again in this one but mcepin3 is right that he had a beer beforehand. I doubt he was even a little tipsy from it, but *shrugs* I guess it was enough.

For the most part, because this is a sitcom, I think the writers are more inclined to be a little lazy with it when it may be a bit obtrusive for a joke or plot.
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oh and they never really had sex,if that's what you meant with sleeping together
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last week,he also had beer,when they talked. You mean that scene,when she teaches Howard how to gut a fish,right? In one scene,he is holding bear and in another later,beer is in front of him on kitchen counter. I know(well,I think I know at least:D),that Raj doesn't need to be drunk to talk to them,he just needs alchohol to talk to ladies. Think it was with FBI chick(from Buffy),that all he needed to talk to her,was to ate 1 piece of rum cake or something like that. I think writers are pretty consistent with Raj,but like I said,there were times,when I asked myself if he did drink or just got over it around Penny and Bernadette.
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he was drinking at D&D game...you can see beer on table near him....and later in bar,of course all were drinking
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Ahhh, I missed the beer at the apartment. I figured he was drinking at the bar, but it really threw me when he asked Penny if he could join them. Thanks!
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He seems to have gotten over the shyness with the girls in the group. He got over it with Bernadette when it was made clear that she was going to be with Howard, he got over it with Penny after the incident with them almost having sex, and with Amy he never had it because he never had any romantic or sexual feelings for her,

Everyone else of the female gender though, he has to be hammered or on that experimental medication.
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So far I haven't seen any episode where he was talking to one of the three girls without him having some form of alcohol before.
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yeah sometimes even I am not clear with Raj. For this christmas episode,I saw beer there,so I was like, "ok he drank some alchohol",but there were times(don't know which episodes),when I wondered,if he was drunk or if he had gotten over shyness around Penny and Bernadette or just a mistake on writers part. So what you say,makes sense.
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MaryAnn, you're my hero (for today, I'm kind of fickle). I loved the creative license you took with the review format. I agree completely about how repetitive the feminine Raj and fugly Amy references got, though I didn't really notice the traumatic childhood thing. I never did miss Stu, but he was a welcome addition to this episode. I used to have a roommate in college with Raj's skill with women and his standards. Last I knew he still has never had a girlfriend. Also, those dresses totally made the episode.
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That episode was OK. Not good as last week's.
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Anyone know what song was playing in the background of the club scene when Raj said he liked Penny/Bernadette but not Amy? It's been bugging me...
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I realize they can't have Raj in a loving relationship if they're going to do a spinoff called 'Raj ' after TBBT is over. But his character is getting not just nerd pathetic, but actually pathetic. He used to be lovable and adorable with his selective mutism and he flirted really well with Summer Glau in season 2... so what's the prob now? Coal for Raj.
But cookies definitely for the bell scene, love bells, top notch.
Sheldon pretending to go along with D&D holiday fun and then blowing up about Santa felt out of place even for him, plus childhood issues are a tired premise. Coal for Sheldon.
Way to strut that grandma sweater Amy, cookies for you cuz you look a little thin.

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Yeah, the Summer Glau thing is an excellent point; early in the show Raj was a total ladies man, but only when he was a drunk. When did they start making him possibly gay? They should just resolve that and figure out which way he swings (certainly TBBT would never make a character bi.) I vote he just sleeps with some girl while drunk, talks to her in the morning for about 5 minutes not realizing he's not mute and is over it after that.
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Also forgot, cookies for best convo between Howard and Bernadette:
"I have to play dungeons and dragons... for the marriage."
"You're an idiot."
"I'm your idiot... FOREVER."
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I loved this exchange, it's so hilarious, and yet so true. From a big DnD nerd, I know all about trying to fit DnD (and similar) games into a lifestyle with a significant other.
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penny.
black dress.
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I didn't like the whole D&D aspect of the episode because it didn't use it well at all, other than a joke conveyer. Shows like, "Community" and "The IT Crowd" have had excellent Dungeons and Dragons scenes that don't necessarily belittle it. I understand that a lot of the humor is targeted towards people who are so socially inept they have no idea what nerds are actually like but come on, give yourself a little nerd cred a write in a line saying that "D&D isn't a board game!" Oh, and the gay jokes were super classy...
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As a big DnD player, I didn't really feel anything untoward the game here. There wasn't really anything mocking DnD (or those who play it), so I'm not quite sure what the deal is here.
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I did think the "having a real girlfriend who has sex with you getting in the way?" was funny even though if DOES belittle the people who play. But my problem is how the D&D playing wasn't the joke, it was what they had to do while playing with quips like "my carpal tunnel is acting up". What 'Community" and "The IT Crowd" did was make the actual act of role playing funny when "The Big Bang Theory" uses things like D&D or SWOTOR as conveyers for jokes, not as jokes themselves.
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So you're saying you *want* them to make fun of actual DnD itself? And my friends and I joke all the time about how our gfs having sex with us gets in the way of our DnD/WoW raids/MtG/etc. I thought it was pretty hilarious, because its so true at times.
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That's what good writing would have accomplished, "As they described themselves walking, so did Abed confirm that they walked..."
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"HO HO HO you big dork" hahaha best line of the whole ep. Loved this ep btw.
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i love this show and the love keeps growing every-week i see new episode
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The bell scene alone is worth cookies :D
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my thoughts exactly
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Same here!
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I've noticed the Raj may be gay bits only in the last few weeks and it's started to bug me as to where they were going with his character. I agree with JT_Kirk below about the girls not ripping into him, as they probably should have. Don't forget he supposedly can't talk to women unless he's drinking too, but they seem to have backed off on that a bit.

Anyone catch Cuoco seemingly holding back a genuine laugh at Bialik's line about waking up wearing more clothes?

In the most recent episode of the show Castle, the actor Dakin Matthews played Santa Claus. he was back here as Santa at the end. Anyone catch that? It's like he went from the Castle set to the BBT set on the same day.
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I saw Penny laugh, but I didn't necessarily think that was Cuoco trying to hold her laughter in as much as Penny doing so. Penny trying not to laugh at her friend's sad analogy fits, so it could be genuine, could be acting.
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He could talk to them because he had been drinking all night. You could clearly see a beer in front of him while playing DnD, and, of course, at the bar.
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Yes, but what I meant was the girls could have criticized him for that need to drink in order to talk to girls as one of his problems with girls.

However, he didn't seem that influenced by liquor in those scenes as they would portray him in the past. The whole, and seemingly sudden, change to his character portraying him as feminine, if not gay, seems to be a part of that.
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Why would the girls criticize him? This is a well known fact that they've known for years. This portrayal as gay, or whatever, isn't really new either, I honestly didn't even think about it during the episode until people started saying something here, since he and Howard have had a bromance going on for years, and similar lines resulted from what we saw in this episode.
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I did see Cuoco laugh. It was a very funny line. I just love Amy
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Memories of that red dress were the only thing keeping me from crying like a baby during Sheldon's story about his grandfather.
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I didn't realise Bernadette was so boobylicious before. Now I can't stop realising it.
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Well to be fair I'm a gay male so it's not the first thing I notice in general, probably will be now.
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It was pretty obvious from the get-go, and I'm not even much of a b**b-man myself.

Meanwhile, as others have stated... over the years they've both made it obvious (with some of her outfits) as well as flat-out saying how "stacked" she is (their words, not mine). Heck, even Howard's mom said "She's short and stacked, just like me"
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Racktastic!
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Haven't you watched BBT the last 2 years? ^^ Watch "The Holographic Excitation" and check her night gowns :D
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I liked the whole thing where Sheldon wouldn't save Santa. I agree that playing I had it worse as nerd growing up in America two weeks in a row was foolish, especially considering it wasn't really necessary this week, where last week it was what injected a lot of the humour into the episode (seriously vaginal lube ice skating... Amazing!). Still Sheldon having a distain for Christmas because of his Pop Pop dying and Santa being unable to bring him back just worked for me. Sheldon is for all intents and purposes a very emotionless individual who bases his choices on logic. Seeing that he not only believed in (or still believes in Santa Clause) was a nice bit of character development, not to mention the fact that I was nervous that it would be some foolish reason he held a vendetta against Old St. Nick and then it turned out to actually be meaningful really worked for me. I also liked that they foreshadowed how much Sheldon's Pop Pop meant to him by having his Christmas memory of Good King Wenceslas take place while he played in front of his Grandparents. Its sad to me to think that Sheldon lost his holiday spirit at the age of five, because clearly up to that point Christmas was something he enjoyed.

On some level I applaud him for his reason's for what he did to Santa... First because it wasn't the real Santa it was just make believe D&D Santa and Second because it probably helped him gain some closure on the whole experience. Its why the end clip where Santa ended up shooting him with a cannon felt so off kilter. It would have been a nice if the moment ended on Sheldon forgiving Santa, I genuinely liked that bit because it was resolution for Sheldon. Then to have Santa kill him because in a fictional game he left him for dead it just completely undid everything I felt the episode had acheived. They still could have ended it on a joke, in fact I was sort of hoping that Santa would give Sheldon the gift he had always wanted his Pop Pop back but resurrected Pop Pop would be a Zombie and that would be what made Sheldon wake with such a start.

Finally while this episode did bring back Stuart, which is always good and did give us some nice shots of the ladies of Big Bang looking Super Sexy. I still have to give this episode coal. The reason continuity is a huge deal for me so for the board to have "333 333 35123" as the first line and then have the bells be played "333 333 35213" really bothered me and from there the whole order written on the board was deviated from. I wish I wish I wish that the board and the bells had aligned and because they didn't that is why I think coal is the only reward they deserve. That and for making me think "Rajmy" was going to happen, it made me squeal with glee considering Raj's pining for Mayim Bialik to be on their physics bowl team back in Season One's The Bat Jar Conjecture... Why you always tease me Big Bang?
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awsome singing done by Sheldon! and another awsome episode. LOVE YOU TBBT! keep doing what you are doing!
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I hate to see Sheldon sing. I know he has a trained voice, but the fact that he elongates his skeleton, making his body rise up on the high notes makes me want to punch him really, really hard.
I loved that Santa got revenge on him in his dream; that made so much sense to me and kept the show from ending on a cliche.
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It's not just the Raj is a woman jokes - I'm getting a little sick of the Raj is gay jokes. I did love Stu kept being like, "You need to say these in your head before you say them out loud." But there was an excess of it. Not a fan. Give them cookies.
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Penny & Bernadette in those dresses...clearly cookies.
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This was largely a cute episode. I give you props for pointing out Stu being well-used, and Raj is effeminate being an overused trope that's lost all sense of nuance, and Raj having a horrendous double-standard. I didn't notice a high number of Amy is fugly gags though, it seemed like a fairly standard amount and all well-deserved, that's how they wrote the character - drunk at a frat party only to wake up with MORE clothes on was a hilarious line. Also, the "who has the bigger damage" issue didn't feel worn out at all, Christmas is a time for comparing old war-wounds: trees lit ablaze, toys not received or broken immediately, drunken parent parties, what have you. And you give the show props for Raj's double-standard but no comment about Amy's double-standard concerning her lack of interest in Raj despite him being relatively handsome and having a similar background to her own?

I disagree on Rauch's dress, it was ok from the front and better from the back, but every other angle it was kinda yuck. Penny's dress worked surprisingly well though.

I was surprised the girls didn't dig into Raj, that's a missed opportunity. They took him into their group, he acted girly, he even owned the past with them, yet when he asked what was wrong with him, the girls didn't tear into him the way they would their own. Bad haircut, bad fashion sense, shyness, expectations beyond his station, bouts of selfishness and self-absorption, overly focused on only a small set of interests which are exclusionary. Oh well, avenues not taken, and all that.

Anyway, Leonard's christmas D&D was a cute idea, felt like it needed one more big gag before the ridiculous ending that came out of nowhere.
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I adored the Christmas D&D. It was new and fresh. I also loved the bells they played. Well done TBBT. Cookies for everyone.
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I liked it. My favorite line was Amy's: "Once I passed out at a frat party and woke up with MORE clothes on."
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That was the best line of the night. I laughed out loud.
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Great episode.
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Cookies! I thought it was really funny
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I am going to say cookies just for the scene of the boys ringing the bells and also for Melissa Rauch for rocking that awesome red dress.
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Santa should gift BBT with lots of cookies. The D&D Christmas theme game was very entertaining to watch (even though I don't play D&D myself lol). I was also very impressed by the Christmas bells part. Well done! Good call on Bernadette in that dress btw. Her and Penny looked SMOKIN hot last night!!

I have issues with your lumps of coal though:

1. Raj is a raging metrosexual, so those "Raj is a woman" jokes will never stop, and shouldn't cause they're hilarious.

2. Who cares how many Amy-is-fugly jokes there are in an episode? The fact that ANYBODY would even keep a count of that is weird in itself. Let's face it, she's a little fugly and knows it, so its not a big deal at all.

3. The crux of this show is that their childhoods were at times traumatic. So you should be used to be hearing it repeatedly if you're a BBT fan. The so-called "pissing contest" you mentioned makes it fun cause they can compare horror stories.
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I actually think Mayin Bialik is quite lovely. They make her look ugly with that unflattering hair cut. IRL Penny would have long ago given her a makeover.
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THANK YOU...at least someone gets TBBT! I didn't find review funny at all and instead of TBBT falling into "christmas trap"of being cheesy, MaryAnn fell into one BIG TIME. Among the lamest reviews I have read in a while(would say no offense,but how couldn't you be offended?:D ).

I disagree about Ami...while show "presents" Amy as not attractive, I say she is. If you look at those 3 women,Bernadette had dress to around thighs and over her ass,while Penny's dress was just long enough to cover her ass. Of course,we know who of those 3 gets tons of men and their attention,this is no good thing I tell ya. With gal like Ami,you have someone who will not get bored with being with just one guy for the rest of her life,while with Penny we see she can't commit to longterm relationships. And that's all people bitch about Penny and Leonard,Penny and Leonard....bunch of hypocrites!
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I agree about Mary Ann. She just doesn't like the show. This really wasn't a review or even a recap. She's just kind of talking about the episode.
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I really don't get what you people are on about. I'm not gonna malign anyone else's writing, but I've stopped reading other sitcom reviews. I don't think I'd read TBBT reviews if they were written by anyone else.
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Really? That's interesting. I read her reviews because I love the show. But I approach them with dread because she so obviously doesn't like the shows. But I will sometimes read Surrette's articles even when I have no interest in what he's writing about. He's just so funny.
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This is The BigBang Theory: eliminate traumatic childhood, bowel movements descriptions, Amy-is-fugly jokes and/or double standard and you're stuck with yet another The Vampire Diaries.

Check out the ratings: no one wants to see yet another one of those.
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coal chips cookies!
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Cookies :)
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Cookies!
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