TV Show Review

TV Review: THE BIG BANG THEORY: Season 8, Episode 23: The Maternal Combustion [CBS]

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CBS The Big Bang Theory The Maternal Combustion TV Show Review. The Big Bang Theory, Season 8, Episode 23: The Maternal Combustion was a gem because of the cat-scratch, no-holes-barred battle royal behavior of the mothers of Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki), played to perfection by Laurie Metcalf (Sheldon’s mom) and Christine Baranski (Leonard’s mom).

This episode would stand out in any season and was a real winner.

The moms come to visit their sons when they are to receive a scientific award and lock horns. Sheldon’s mom is a religious fanatic from Texas, a kind of female to-the-right of Pat Robertson and Genghis Khan, and Leonard’s mom, a psychoanalyzing psycho who reminded me of a frigid spinster librarian for the Puritans.

The two women were priceless in their sword-thrust-and-parry banter to see who could out-nut-case the other.

Leonard’s mom asks him, “You’ve known Penny (Kaley Cuoco) for seven years. Are you having satisfactory intercourse?”

When Leonard embarrassed answers yes and his mother still isn’t convinced, he defends himself saying, “It’s hot, I can’t keep my hands off her,” to which his mother responds, “It seems odd you would try and impress your mother with sexual prowess.”

Leonard has given Penny a ring purchased from a discounted diamond drill bit catalog.

Sheldon, considered the most intellectual of the group, has an anti-intellectual creationist mother who admits she once found divine guidance from a Jesus bubble head doll in a Subaru. When Sheldon warns his mother to not engage in “Bible Babble,” and expresses his scientific opinion that the universe is composed of a super fluid, his mother takes him down a notch by observing, “Interesting, you can believe that, but God filling an arc with animals two by two is nonsense?”

Sheldon asks, “What did they feed the lions mother?”

Mary Cooper answers, “The floating bodies of drowned sinners of course.”

“Are you ashamed of me?” She asks during the interplay.

“Of course not,” Sheldon answers. “I love you. I’m just embarrassed by the things you think, do and say.”

Sheldon admits that despite his mother’s insanity she is okay because when he was a boy she fed him spaghetti with chopped-up hot dogs.

The zingers just kept coming.

As usual Leonard is jealous of Sheldon getting more attention from both moms for his supposed brilliance and compares him to an elephant seal pup who steals milk from two mother seals.

“I believe the term you’re looking for is a double mother suckler,” Sheldon corrects him.

“You are a dirty double mother suckler,” Leonard snaps.

The second premise of the show, Howard (Simon Helberg), Raj (Kunal Nayyar), and Stuart (Kevin Sussman), acting like lazy, sloppy teenagers couldn’t compete with the moms except for two moments. Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) makes them clean the kitchen and Howard missed two spots in cleaning the floor. Despite his attempts to deny it, the dirty spots pull his slippers off after he steps on them (this was genuinely funny). At the end the three men wind up singing “It’s a hard-knock life” from the stage show Annie, and even Bernadette joins in.

The interplay between Sheldon and Leonard and their mothers must have struck a chord with millions of viewers. We like to imagine our own mothers as saints. But who hasn’t had a difficult mother? The kind of mother to whom the sex that produced you back in 1956 in her case (she only hints at it because sex was considered dirty back then) she describes as “true romance.”

But when you engage in sex, to her you’re disgusting.

Or, the kind of mother that when you bring home the love of your life to meet your parents, your mother later tells you in private, “She isn’t what we (your father and I) hoped for.”

Or you come and show your mother your Pulitzer Prize winning novel. She frowns, tosses it on the table with bored disdain and in a jaundiced voice says, “You still involved in that writin’ thing, huh?”

Who hasn’t had a mother (at least some of the time) like that?

That’s why the show worked. There is nothing stranger or funnier than truth.

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About the author

John Sammon

John Sammon is a writer whose experience includes newspaper reporting, magazine writing, personality profiles, interviews, celebrity interviews (Clint Eastwood), historical pieces, investigative and crime. He was selected “Most Valuable Reporter” for California’s oldest continually operating newspaper, and covered the weekend crime beat for a daily newspaper in Nevada. If you beat your wife on Friday, he wrote about it and got you in deep trouble on Saturday.

He covered the Nevada brothel beat and did stories on wild horses. The publication of his investigative pieces led to a dishonest political candidate withdrawing from a statewide elective campaign, while another politician unsuccessfully sued him because he didn’t like an article Mr. Sammon produced. His articles led to government reforms, including a school district performing its first-ever financial audit, and a Nevada State Law rolling back home heating oil prices for fixed-income seniors who depended on it.

Mr. Sammon is also a humor writer of the website Sammonsays, a professional script writer, an actor and member of the Screen Actor’s Guild, a film narrator for the California State Parks system, a standup comedian, and the author of three novels and one nonfiction book.

He worked in his spare time with sick and wounded animals at the SPCA.

Mr. Sammon's latest book, "Sammon Says: Exposing American Empire," a compilation of over 100 political opinion columns written over several years and recounting America's involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, was released in October 2013 by Dictus Publishing of Germany.

He is working on a new historical romance novel.

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