Big Bang Theory – The Proton Resurgence

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by Kevin Rigdon (@pralix1138)




Do you have a childhood hero? Someone that you would totally geek out over if you met them? In the newest episode of The Big Bang Theory, “The Proton Resurgence,” Leonard and Sheldon get the chance to meet the man that inspired them to pursue science as children. Not only do they get to meet him, but Sheldon actually hires Professor Proton (played wonderfully by Bob Newhart) to come to their apartment and put on a kids’ science show for them.

As he’s going through the science show for Leonard, Penny, and Sheldon, Professor Proton has a bit of an existential crisis. I’m sure it’s not the first time in his life that he’s considered the entirety of his life to be a waste. He’s an actual scientist but other scientists don’t take him seriously. As he ponders if he’s done anything worthwhile, Sheldon produces a framed, autographed, picture sent to him by Professor Proton years before. The guys then tell the good Professor that thousands of scientists pursued science because of him, and their accomplishments are, in a way, his own.

Right before his pacemaker begins acting up, there is a nice, touching, moment. It also says something about a societal attitude that is intrinsically asinine. We often think that if a person writes for kids, entertains kids, or hosts science shows for kids, that it’s somehow less than real, or proper. Professor Proton remarks more than once that he is a “real” scientist. He has a PhD from Cornell, for crying out loud. It’s as if these people can’t be taken seriously if they’re not “seriously” acting for grown-ups, or doing “grown-up” things. Perhaps Tolkien was right after all. I didn’t want to believe it, but maybe, as a society, we do look at children as not quite fully human. We may not have disdain for children as children, but we certainly don’t respect them as full persons. And we certainly seem to disregard those adults who attempt to treat them like actual people by writing for them, acting for them, and teaching them. He’s a real scientist, is Arthur Jeffries, and I daresay his contribution to science, to people, has a farther reaching impact than many “actual” scientists.

As Leonard and Sheldon are meeting their childhood hero with Penny, Howard and Bernadette agree to watch Raj’s dog, Cinnamon, while he’s working at the telescope lab all weekend. It’s one of those tests that couples sometimes go through to see if they can handle the responsibility of another life being dependent upon them. So, someone entrusts them with a pet that’s really important to them, and all. You know the routine. As there is nothing new under the sun, this idea, though implemented well, is still a bit worn.

Howard and Bernadette, predictably, lose the dog and have to go search for her, and learn a little bit about themselves along the way. The lessons they learn are pretty much what we’ve always known. Neither one takes the responsibility of putting Cinnamon back in her stroller, and Howard gets turned on by Raj’s accent. But all of their looking is in vain because someone has found the dog and returned her to Raj. Of course, Raj doesn’t tell Howard and Bernadette for several hours so they’re all worried and whatnot. When he does finally call them, Bernadette goes all guilt-trip ninja on him. Contrary to what Howard may believe, moms and guilt trips should not be synonymous.

So, after the Cinnamon distraction, we come back to Sheldon and Professor Proton, now at the hospital due to the latter’s pace maker irregularities. At the close of the 4th round of “Soft Kitty” the Professor asks Sheldon if Sheldon could fill in for him at a party. So, Sheldon becomes Professor Proton Junior, and he hugs his newly adopted “father.” This is another big step in Sheldon’s growth, and one that seems organic. After all, Sheldon doesn’t have trouble expressing love for shows, or characters, from his childhood, it’s actual people that have proven to be problematic.

Even though it wasn’t the most laugh-out-loud episode, the underlying theme of making a difference in the lives of children is to be commended, and heeded.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Stars


    2 Comments

  1. MeghanMay 3rd, 2013 at 10:01 am

    The only person I could think of while I watched this episode was Bill Nye the Science Guy. Anyone else?

  2. KevinMay 3rd, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    The entire time I was thinking of Bill Nye…and Captain Kangaroo, though for completely different reasons. 🙂

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