'The Big Bang Theory' recap: Razing the Bar

One of my favorite TV episodes of all time is "The One with the Embryos" from the fourth season of Friends. You know, it's the one where Monica, Rachel, Chandler, and Joey partake in a personal trivia contest officiated by Ross, and we learn some deliciously silly factoids about our beloved characters: Chandler first touched a girl's breast at 19, Monica's biggest pet peeve is animals dressed as humans, Joey's imaginary friend was/is a space cowboy named Maurice. The simple fact that these people had lives outside the 22 minutes we spent with them each week -- and that those lives were as, well, trivial as our own -- was outrageously funny and endearing in equal measure.

I felt much the same way about tonight's episode of The Big Bang Theory. It isn't quite my top episode of the series -- that honor is still safely held by season 2's "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis," and besides, without Penny around (or, for the second time, even mentioned) it just doesn't quite feel like The Big Bang Theory to me. But "The Irish Pub Formulation" was chock full of tasty bits of trivia about our characters; the penultimate scene with our fearsome foursome was especially scrumptious, easily one of my favorites. The roundelay of revelations -- not just that Leonard betrayed Howard, who betrayed Raj, who betrayed Sheldon, who betrayed Leonard, but howall this betrayal went down -- was all kinds of rip-tickling fun, and helped make plain just how nerdily entwined these four friends are with each other. That last sentence maybe came off a bit more coital than I meant it to, but you get the idea.

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