In this episode we have a metaphorical incident with Sheldon's eidetic memory suddenly failing him. It is another trait from the past that defined him so it, too, must fall under Amy's paradigm (as only she can be powerful enough to stymie his Beautiful Mind). It's really repetitive to the point where I roll my eyes, the idea that anything Sheldon was/did in the past can be rewritten/dismissed with a mere reference to Amy. I mean I hate to say this but Sheldon is now the most co-dependent character on the show. He can't do anything without there being some sort of connection, whether direct or indirect, to her. This is rather distressing to me since Sheldon was the one character who had his head on straight when it came to his observations on Raj, Howard and Leonard's attempts at romantic relations. Sheldon gave both Leonard and Penny his disapproval for belittling geekdom on the altar of perceived normalcy and yet we flash forward to now and Sheldon's given up everything for someone whose only changes have been to centralize herself in his life for her own benefit as dictated by the 'spin the wheel to see what plot device Amy will fulfill this week' mechanisms of the writers.
For me, this episode revealed how weak every aspect of this show has become and I wholeheartedly admit to being shocked at how blatantly those behind the scenes just don't give a damn. It's one thing to try a joke or a plot and have it not work out, and I'm not going to say that every episode was equally as strong in the first four seasons. However, I will say that the early episodes are infinitely stronger than s6-9 because they were more cohesively conceived. Plots were either massive, involving all the characters, or else divided in two but with one plot intersecting with or originating out of the other. Nowadays, there's no attempt at creating a cohesive narrative; there's an obvious A and B plot which are independent of each other. This wouldn't be so bad if the quality of the writing still held up but oftentimes the B plot is a complete throwaway—a one line joke that is stretched out way too long. Although I shouldn't be too hard on the B plots given how hapless the A plots are nowadays.
There is a horrible balancing act involving too many thumbs on one side of the scale, wherein TPTB micro-control everything from writing to direction and yet are now dependent on having the actors bail out their lacklustre product. The Howard and Raj scenes tonight worked not because of the inane plot but through the sheer acting talents of Kunal and Simon. They really are working with crap and yet have managed to rise above it for jokes here and there, but then the question becomes how much am I enjoying the scenes because of my sentimentality towards the characters as opposed to their current portrayals?
Jim is the one who is particularly left out to dry. Since he is the lead male he is particularly micromanaged because no one wants to kill Sheldon, their Golden Goose. Their way of altering his character has been through Amy, hence the reason why she has become central to the show. She is their mole, making sure that Sheldon thinks and acts in the right way so that he becomes less complex to write. This leaves Jim with infinitely less to work with, hence the reason why the director has asked for him to put more of himself into Sheldon. TPTB are relying on Jim to keep Sheldon a three-dimensional character which fails spectacularly because whatever character I saw tonight, it sure wasn't Sheldon. The problem is that TPTB don't recognize that early Sheldon *was* a three-dimensional character. It was only as they simplified him that he became a cartoon character. Sheldon lost his power and subtlety and not even Jim can save this later seasons, which says something given that he has four Emmys.
This is what TPTB don't get: I didn't tune in to see Jim Parsons, I tuned in to see Sheldon Cooper. And yes, there is a difference. The problem now is that the illusion has been shattered, there is no Sheldon, only an actor who is playing a character called Sheldon. What makes things worse is that we can see more than the marionette's strings, we see the puppeteers positioning him and moving him on the stage. When Sheldon comes to his epiphany about the song being about Amy, Jim is standing in the middle of the apartment. He then moves to his Spot on the couch and has to not only relay the lyrics to the song, but also explain how they're relevant to Amy. This is his 'Aha!' Moment for understanding he is 'half a man' without her and then we get the whole rush of 'I love you Marsha', 'I love you John' and a smoochie at the door.
The thing is, all this overproduction doesn't change the fact that it's poorly written. The writers can tap into as much schmaltzy, unoriginal sentimentality as they want but if people don't buy into their world, there is no 'Moment'. I can't buy into this new world because the old one was so complete. It had moments like the napkin and Soft Kitty. The difference between what was and what are now moments is crucial to seeing what is wrong with the current season and this is best reflected in the two kisses we've seen so far:
Amy and Sheldon's kiss was the culmination of an episode plot which spelled out Sheldon's love for her. It was a Moment because the writers and directors SAID it was a Moment—and lo and behold, The Moment! Never mind that the kiss, itself, was passionless. Save for Jim's arm, which wiped Mayim's back with regularity like a windshield wiper, there was no movement. It was inorganic, a stage kiss which might work for theater but with the step into the personal which television shows have via the close up of the camera it just doesn't have 'it'. The kiss is as real as The Moment is genuine.
In contrast, Penny and Sheldon's kiss MADE a moment. As the dialogue between Penny and Sheldon moved into a new direction, what with Sheldon saying that he was available for her to kiss since he was single, you could hear the uncertainty in the audience's laughter. An 'I don't know where you're going with this but ooo boy this has become a charged scene'. And then Sheldon—not Jim—swept in and kissed Penny. The kiss was passionate, alive, organic. It moved, it breathed and the audience went nuts. It was taboo, blasphemous, daring, and wish-fulfilling. THAT is what makes a great moment. Sadly, it seems that TPTB don't get the difference.