Series 01 Episode 04 – The Luminous Fish Effect

Scene: Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment.

Sheldon: I’ve been thinking about time travel again.

Leonard: Why, did you hit a roadblock with invisibility?

Sheldon: Put it on the back burner. Anyway, it occurs to me, if I ever did perfect a time machine, I’d just go into the past and give it to myself, thus eliminating the need for me to invent it in the first place.

Leonard: Interesting.

Sheldon: Yeah, it really takes the pressure off.

Leonard: Sounds like a breakthrough, should I call the science magazines and tell them to hold the front cover? (Exiting the apartment.)

Sheldon: It’s time travel, Leonard, I will have already done that.

Leonard: Then I guess congratulations are in order.

Sheldon: No, congratulations will have been in order. You know, I’m not going to enjoy this party.

Leonard: I know, I’m familiar with you.

Sheldon: At the last department party, Dr Finkleday cornered me and talked about spelunking for 45 minutes.

Leonard: Yes, I was there.

Sheldon: You know what’s interesting about caves, Leonard?

Leonard: What?

Sheldon: Nothing.

Leonard: Well then we’ll avoid Finkleday, we’ll meet the new department head, congratulate him, shake his hand and go.

Sheldon: How’s this? Pleased to meet you, Dr Gablehouser. How fortunate for you that the University has chosen to hire you, despite the fact that you’ve done no original research in 25 years, and instead have written a series of popular books that reduce the great concepts of science to a series of anecdotes, each one dumbed down to accommodate the duration of an average bowel movement. Mahalo.

Leonard: Mahalo’s a nice touch.

Sheldon: Do you know there are only eight consonants in the Hawaiian language.

Leonard: Interesting, you should lead with that.

Scene: The department party. Sheldon, Raj and Leonard are at the buffet table.

Raj: Oh, God, Look at this buffet. I love America.

Leonard: You don’t have buffets in India?

Raj: Of course, but it’s all Indian food. You can’t find a bagel in Mumbai to save your life. Schmear me.

Sheldon: Well here’s an interesting turn of events.

Leonard: What. (Sees Howard entering with a statuesque blonde) Howard brought a date?

Sheldon: A more plausible explanation is that his work in robotics has made an amazing leap forward.

Howard: Hey, what up, science bitches? May I introduce my special lady friend, Summer. (Puts arm around her.)

Summer: I already told you, touching’s extra.

Howard: Right. Sorry.

Leonard (to Sheldon): Here comes our new boss, be polite.

Gablehouser: Hi fellas, Eric Gablehouser.

Howard: Howard Wolowitz.

Gablehouser: Howard, nice to meet you, and you are?

Sheldon: An actual real scientist. (To Leonard) How was that?

Scene: The stairwell of the apartment building. Sheldon is carrying a box of his things.

Sheldon: I can’t believe he fired me.

Leonard: Well, you did call him a glorified high-school science teacher whose last successful experiment was lighting his own farts.

Sheldon: In my defence, I prefaced that by saying “with all due respect.”

Credit sequence.

Scene: The apartment, Sheldon is in the kitchen cooking, Leonard enters.

Leonard: Morning

Sheldon: Morning.

Leonard: You’re making eggs for breakfast?

Sheldon: This isn’t breakfast, it’s an experiment.

Leonard: Huh? Cos it looks a lot like breakfast.

Sheldon: I finally have the time to test my hypothesis, about the separation of the water molecules from the egg proteins, and its impact vis-a-vis taste.

Leonard: Sounds yummy. I look forward to your work with bacon.

Sheldon: As do I.

Leonard: You know, I’m sure if you just apologised to Gablehauser he would give you your job back.

Sheldon: I don’t want my job back. I’ve spent the last three and a half years staring at greaseboards full of equations. Before that I spent four years working on my thesis. Before that I was in college, and before that, I was in the fifth grade. This is my first day off in decades, and I’m going to savour it.

Leonard: Okay. I’ll let you get back to fixing your eggs.

Sheldon: I’m not just fixing my eggs, I’m fixing everyone’s eggs.

Leonard: And we all thank you.

(Sheldon takes his eggs and sits down. Takes a photograph of them. Writes in his notebook, then takes a forkful. Writes in notebook again.)

Sheldon: Use new eggs. (There is a knock on the door).

Penny (popping her head round): Hi, hey. I’m running out to the market, do you guys need anything?

Sheldon: Oh, well this would be one of those circumstances that people unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would call a coincidence.

Penny: I’m sorry?

Sheldon: I need eggs. Four dozen should suffice.

Penny: Four dozen?

Sheldon: Yes, and evenly distributed amongst brown, white, free range, large, extra-large and jumbo.

Penny: Okay, one more time?

Sheldon: Never mind, you won’t get it right, I’d better come with you.

Penny: Oh, yay!

Scene: Penny’s car

Penny: How come you didn’t go into work today.

Sheldon: I’m taking a sabbatical, because I won’t kow-tow to mediocre minds.

Penny: So you got canned, huh?

Sheldon: Theoretical physicists do not get canned. But yeah.

Penny: Well, maybe it’s all for the best, you know I always say, when one door closes, another one opens.

Sheldon: No it doesn’t. Not unless the two doors are connected by relays, or there are motion sensors involved.

Penny: No, no, I meant…

Sheldon: Or the first door closing causes a change of air pressure that acts upon the second door.

Penny: Never mind.

Sheldon: Slow down. Slow down, please slow down.

Penny: We’re fine.

Sheldon: Look, you’re not leaving yourself enough space between cars.

Penny: Oh, sure I am.

Sheldon: No, no. Let me do the math for you, this car weighs let’s say 4,000lb, now add say 140 for me, 120 for you.

Penny: 120?

Sheldon: Oh, I’m sorry, did I insult you? Is your body mass somehow tied into your self worth?

Penny: Well, yeah.

Sheldon: Interesting. Anyway, that gives us a total weight of, let’s say, 4,400lb.

Penny: Let’s say 4,390.

Sheldon: Fine. We’re travelling forward at, good Lord, 51 miles an hour. Now let’s assume that your brakes are new and the callipers are aligned, still, by the time we come to a stop, we’ll be occupying the same space as that Buick in front of us, an impossibility that nature will quickly resolve into death, mutilation and… oh look, they built a new put-put course.

Scene: The supermarket.

Sheldon: This is great. Look at me, out in the real world of ordinary people, just living their ordinary, colourless, workaday lives.

Penny: Thank you.

Sheldon: No, thank you. And thank you, ordinary person. Hey, you want to hear an interesting thing about tomatoes.

Penny: Uh, no, no not really. Listen, didn’t you say you needed some eggs.

Sheldon: Uh, yes, but anyone who knows anything about the dynamics of bacterial growth knows to pick up their refrigerated foods on the way out of the supermarket.

Penny: Oh, okay, well maybe you should start heading on out then.

Sheldon: No, this is fun. Oh, the thing about tomatoes, and I think you’ll really enjoy this, is, they’re shelved with the vegetables, but they’re technically a fruit.

Penny: Interesting.

Sheldon: Isn’t it?

Penny: No, I mean what you find enjoyable.

Sheldon (as Penny selects vitamin supplements): Oh boy.

Penny: What now?

Sheldon: Well, there’s some value to taking a multivitamin, but the human body can only absorb so much, what you’re buying here are the ingredients for very expensive urine.

Penny: Well, maybe that’s what I was going for.

Sheldon: Well then you’ll want some manganese.

Scene: On the stairwell of the apartment building.

Sheldon: That was fun. Maybe tomorrow we can go to one of those big warehouse stores.

Penny: Oh, I don’t know Sheldon, it’s going to take me a while to recover from all the fun I had today.

Sheldon: Are you sure. There are a lot of advantages to buying in bulk. For example, I noticed that you purchase your tampons one month’s supply at a time.

Penny: What?

Sheldon: Well think about it, it’s a product that doesn’t spoil, and you’re going to be needing them for at least the next thirty years.

Penny: You want me to buy thirty years worth of tampons?

Sheldon: Well, thirty, thirty five, hey, when did your mother go into menopause?

Penny: Okay, I’m not talking about this with you.

Sheldon: Oh, Penny, this is a natural human process, and we’re talking about statistically significant savings. Now, if you assume 15 tampons per cycle and a 28 day cycle, are you fairly regular? (Penny shuts door in his face.) Okay, no warehouse store, but we’re still on for put-put golf, right?

Scene: The apartment, Sheldon has several bowls containing goldfish.

Leonard (entering): Hey, I just ran into Penny, she seemed upset about something.

Sheldon: I think it’s her time of the month. I marked the calendar for future reference.

Leonard: What’s with the fish?

Sheldon: It’s an experiment.

Leonard: What happened to your scrambled egg research?

Sheldon: Oh, that was a dead end. Scrambled eggs are as good as they’re ever going to be.

Leonard: So… fish.

Sheldon: I read an article about Japanese scientists, who inserted DNA from luminous jellyfish into other animals, and I thought hey, fish nightlights.

Leonard: Fish nightlights.

Sheldon: It’s a billion dollar idea. Shhhhh!

Leonard: Mum’s the word. Sheldon, are you sure you don’t want to just apologise to Gablehauser and get your job back.

Sheldon: Oh, no, no, no. No, I’ve too much to do.

Leonard: Like luminous fish.

Sheldon: Shhhhh!

Leonard: Right… I didn’t….

Sheldon: That’s just the beginning. I also have an idea for a bulk mail-order feminine hygiene company. Oh, glow in the dark tampons! Leonard, we’re going to be rich.

Scene: The stairwell of the apartment building.

Leonard: Thank you for coming on such short notice.

Mrs Cooper: You did the right thing calling.

Leonard: I didn’t know what else to do, he’s lost all focus, every day he’s got a new obsession. (They enter the apartment. Sheldon is weaving on a loom. He is wrapped in a poncho.) This is a particularly disturbing one.

Sheldon (looking round): Mommy.

Mrs Cooper: Hi baby.

Sheldon (mouths): You called my mother?

Mrs Cooper: Oh, you got yourself a loom, how nice.

Sheldon: Thank you.

Mrs Cooper: Honey, why did you get a loom?

Sheldon: I was working with luminous fish, and I thought, hey, loom! Mom, what are you doing here?

Mrs Cooper: Leonard called me.

Sheldon: I know, but why?

Leonard: Because one of the great minds of the twenty-first century is raising glow-in-the-dark fish and weaving sarapes.

Sheldon: This is not a sarape. This is a poncho. A sarape is open at the sides, a poncho is closed, this is a poncho, and neither is a reason to call someone’s mother.

Leonard: Really, when was the last time you left the house.

Sheldon: I went to the market with Penny.

Leonard: That was three weeks ago.

Sheldon: Well then buckle up, in the next four to eight days she’s going to get very crabby.

Mrs Cooper: Sweetheart, your little friend is concerned about you.

Sheldon: Yes, well I’m not a child, I’m a grown man capable of living my life as I see fit. And I certainly don’t need someone telling on me to my mother.

Leonard: Where are you going?

Sheldon: To my room, and no-one’s allowed in.

Mrs Cooper: He gets his temper from his daddy.

Leonard: Oh.

Mrs Cooper: He’s got my eyes.

Leonard: I see.

Mrs Cooper: All that science stuff, that comes from Jesus.

Scene: Everyone but Sheldon is in the kitchen of the apartment.

Leonard: Sheldon? Your mum made dinner.

Sheldon (off): I’m not hungry.

Mrs Cooper: Oh, Leonard, don’t trouble yourself, he’s stubborn. He may stay in there ‘til the Rapture.

Penny: Are we so sure that’s a bad thing?

Mrs Cooper: I’ll tell ya, I love the boy to death, but he has been difficult since he fell out of me at the K-Mart.

Howard: Excuse me for being so bold, but I now see where Sheldon gets his smouldering good looks.

Mrs Cooper: Oh, honey that ain’t going to work, but you keep trying. (To Raj) I made chicken, I hope that isn’t one of the animals that you people think is magic? You know, we have an Indian gentleman at our church, a Dr Patel, it’s a beautiful story, the lord spoke to him, and moved him to give us all 20% off on lasic, you know, those that needed it.

Leonard: That is a lovely story, um, are we going to do anything about Sheldon?

Mrs Cooper: Oh, we will, you have to take your time with Sheldon. His father, God rest his soul, used to say to me, Mary, you have to take your time with Sheldon.

Leonard: Sounds like a wise man.

Mrs Cooper: Oh, not so wise, he was trying to fight a bobcat for some licquorish. So, everybody grab a plate, and a pretty place mat that Shelly wove.

Penny: Has Shelly ever freaked out like this before.

Mrs Cooper: Oh, all the time, I remember one summer when he was thirteen, he built a small nuclear reactor in the shed and told everybody he was going to provide free electricity for the whole town, well the only problem was he had no, whatchacall, fissionable materials. Anyway, when he went on the internets to get some, a man from the government came by and sat him down real gentle and told him it’s against the law to have yellow cake uranium in a shed.

Penny: What happened?

Mrs Cooper: Well, the poor boy had a fit, locked himself in his room and built a sonic death ray.

Leonard: A death ray?

Mrs Cooper: Well, that’s what he called it, didn’t even slow down the neighbour kids. It pissed our dog off to no end. You know, you two make a cute couple.

Both Leonard and Penny laugh, a little too forced.

Leonard: No, we’re not, we’re not, not a couple, two singles, like those individually wrapped slices of cheese that…. are friends.

Mrs Cooper: Did I pluck a nerve there?

Howard: Oh yeah.

Mrs Cooper: Okay. Alright everybody, it’s time to eat. (Everybody begins to do so) Oh Lord, we thank you for this meal, all your bounty, and we pray that you help Sheldon get back on his rocker. (To Raj and Howard) Now after a moment of silent meditation I’m going to end with “In Jesus’ Name” but you two don’t feel any obligation to join in. Unless, of course, the holy spirit moves you.

Time shift

Penny: Oh my God, this is the best cobbler I’ve ever had.

Mrs Cooper: It was always Sheldon’ s favourite. You know what the secret ingredient is?

Penny: Love?

Mrs Cooper: Lard.

Sheldon emerges from the bedroom area.

Howard: Hey, look who’s come out….

Mrs Cooper: Shhh! You’ll spook him. He’s like a baby deer, you gotta let him come to you.

Sheldon crosses to the cobbler, takes some and puts it on a plate. Looks round at the group in the matter of a frightened animal. Everyone but Leonard looks down at their meal.

Leonard: This is ridiculous. Dammit, Sheldon, snap out of it. You’re a physicist, you belong at the University doing research, not hiding in your room. (Sheldon scuttles away)

Mrs Cooper: You don’t hunt, do you?

Scene: Sheldon’s bedroom. He is building a model of some kind of double helix. There is a knock on the door.

Mrs Cooper (entering): Good morning, snicker-doodle.

Sheldon: Morning.

Mrs Cooper: Oh, well that looks awful fancy, what is that?

Sheldon: It’s my idea of what DNA would look like in a silicon based life form.

Mrs Cooper: But intelligently designed by a creator, right?

Sheldon: What do you want, mom?

Mrs Cooper: You know how your daddy used to say that you can only fish for so long before you got to throw a stick of dynamite in the water?

Sheldon: Yeah.

Mrs Cooper: Well, I’m done fishing. (Throwing a pair of trousers on the bed) You put those on.

Sheldon: What for?

Mrs Cooper: Because you’re going to go down to your office, you’re going to apologise to your boss, and get your job back.

Sheldon: No.

Mrs Cooper: I’m sorry, did I start that sentence with the words “if it please your highness?”

Sheldon: I’m not going to apologise, I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.

Mrs Cooper: Now you listen here, I have been telling you since you were four years old, it’s okay to be smarter than everybody but you can’t go around pointing it out.

Sheldon: Why not?

Mrs Cooper: Because people don’t like it. Remember all the ass-kickings you got from the neighbour kids? Now let’s get cracking. Shower, shirt, shoes, and let’s shove off. (Exits)

Sheldon: Wouldn’t have been any ass-kickings if that stupid death ray had worked.

Scene: The kitchen

Mrs Cooper: Problem solved.

Leonard: Really? That’s impressive.

Mrs Cooper: Leonard, the Lord never gives us more than we can handle. Thankfully he blessed me with two other children who are dumb as soup.

Scene: Dr Gablehouser’s office

Mrs Cooper: Excuse me, Dr Gablehouser, are you busy?

Gablehouser: Well, actually….

Mrs Cooper: Sheldon, he’s just doodling, get in here.

Sheldon: Dr Gablehouser.

Gablehouser: Dr Cooper.

Mrs Cooper: Let’s go, baby, we’re losing daylight.

Sheldon: Um, as you know, several weeks ago in our first encounter we may have gotten off on the wrong foot, when I called you an idiot. And I just wanted to say that I was wrong. To point it out.

Gablehouser (to Mrs Cooper): I’m sorry, we haven’t been introduced. Dr Eric Gablehouser.

Mrs Cooper: Mary Cooper, Sheldon’s mom.

Gablehouser: Now that’s impossible, you must have had him when you were a teenager.

Mrs Cooper: Oh, aren’t you sweet, his father’s dead.

Gablehouser: Recently?

Mrs Cooper: Long enough.

Gablehouser (indicating chair): Please. Sheldon, shouldn’t you be working?

Sheldon (leaving): Okay.

Leonard: Hey, how did it go?

Sheldon: I got my job back.

Leonard: Really? What happened?

Sheldon: I’m not quite sure. It involves a part of the human experience that has always eluded me.

Leonard: That narrows it down.

Scene: Sheldon’s bedroom. Mrs Cooper is tucking him in.

Mrs Cooper: I’m very proud of you honey, you showed a lot of courage today.

Sheldon: Thanks, mom. Mom?

Mrs Cooper: Mmm-hmm?

Sheldon: Is Dr Gablehouser going to be my new daddy?

Mrs Cooper: We’ll see. Sleep tight.

Sheldon turns over to sleep in the glow of a luminous goldfish.

Teleplay: David Litt & Lee Aronsohn

Story: Chuck Lorre & Bill Prady


 
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