|The Beta Test Initiation|
Penny and Leonard agree to start seeing each other again.
Season 5, Episode 14
January 26, 2012
"The Recombination Hypothesis"
"The Friendship Contraction"
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Leonard and Penny deal with the idea of restarting their relationship, and Raj finally finds a "woman" he can talk to without being drunk, in the form of Siri on his new iPhone. Meanwhile, Sheldon decides to start a YouTube series entitled "Sheldon Cooper Presents: Fun with Flags" with the assistance of Amy.
In the apartment with the recording of Sheldon's new web-based show, Sheldon Cooper Presents: Fun with Flags. Sheldon does an introduction by saying that for the next 52 weeks, he and the viewers will explore vexillology. Amy enters and sits next to him on the couch, asking him what vexillology is. He answers that it's the study of flags. Amy acts excited and comments that she learned something already and indicates that she is having fun. Sheldon continues by saying that fun and information are the two sides to the show, and compares it to his first flag factoid, the Oregon flag, which happens to be the only two-sided state flag. He continues by adding that the show will cover questions such as what is the only non-rectangular flag, what is the animal that appears most on flags, what animal appears second-most-often on flags, and many more. Amy then grabs a white flag and starts waving it wildly and says "sweet!" Sheldon plays along by asking her why she waved the flag and she says she is surrendering to fun. They laugh and Sheldon looks into the camera and claims the current episode will not be fun at all. He says that the viewers have to know how to hold and fold flags and proceeds to explain. Suddenly, Leonard walks past the camera, disrupting the show's recording. Sheldon yells "cut" and asked Leonard whether he was oblivious to the fact that he was shooting his show. Leonard apologizes and says he needs to get out of the apartment since he is having dinner with Penny. Sheldon retorts that he has facts about flags that he needs to get out from his head. Leonard gives him a look before leaving without saying a word. Once he leaves, Amy asks Sheldon whether he is okay. He says he isn't and he is rattled but proceeds to re-shoot again. He does his introduction again and when Amy's part with the white flag comes, it turns out that she drew a face on the flag. He asks her why she did it and she says the gesture will make the show more appealing for younger viewers. Sheldon thinks it's a brilliant idea and makes them start again from the top.
Leonard and Penny are walking up the apartment building's stairs after their dinner. Penny says it was a nice dinner and she is glad that he asked her out again. Leonard agrees and confesses that he missed her. She asked him that since she sees him all the time, does that mean he just misses the sex. He agrees and says sex with her is pretty great and that she should try it. Penny tells him he wasn't wrong about that. She also tells him if they are going to try dating again, they should take it slow. Leonard says he can do that and tells Penny about his first girlfriend in high school, Karen Berberick. To this day, Karen still does not know that they dated and that made things easier when he broke things off with her. Penny replies that she does not mean they go that slow. Leonard suggests they use the method used when developing computer software, where instead of getting mad, they treat any forthcoming issues as bugs and report it so they can be fixed. Penny asks whether he means it as a beta test but he tells her it's more like an alpha test and proceeds to explain the difference between the two. Penny gets annoyed and demands why she is not being credited for knowing what a beta test is in the first place. Leonard apologizes and tells her they need to make a list of the bugs. She agrees and they say good night to each other. He enters his apartment and announces he is back. Immediately he hears Sheldon say "cut" and a dejected Amy stands up again and goes to her original position. Sheldon tells them to get ready for take 47.
At Sheldon and Raj's office, Sheldon is researching new facts about flags for the next episode of his show. He shares about how the same flags shared by Liechtenstein and Haiti were coincidental since both parties were oblivious to the fact until the 1936 Summer Olympics. Then, Howard enters and starts asking about Raj's new iPhone he bought on the way to work. Raj asks whether he would like to peel off the plastic and Howard can't believe it since that is the best part. Raj tells him to hold a corner and they peel off the plastic together, both very happy. Raj calls Howard "cowboy" and tells him to do it slowly and savor the moment. Once done, Sheldon tells them that since Raj mentioned cowboys, what flag has two cows on it and answers Andorra. He is ecstatic and says the next episode of his show is writing itself. Howard then tells Raj he wants to try his new phone's voice recognition, but Raj tells him not to be greedy since he already peeled off the plastic, and instead tries it himself. He begins interacting with Siri (the phone's voice recognition and AI software), quickly growing fond of it. He asks it out for a cup of coffee and Siri responds with several nearby coffee shops. Raj tells them he will see them later and walks out of the office. Howard darkly responds that Siri will break Raj's heart.
Back at Sheldon and Leonard's apartment, Sheldon, Leonard, Amy, and Penny are watching Doctor Who. Amy comments that for someone who has a machine that can travel anywhere in time and space, the Doctor sure has a thing for modern-day London. Sheldon replies that her sassing of Doctor Who could get her uninvited for this year's Who-Con. Penny asks Leonard whether he considers their activity now as a date. Leonard says he's not sure, but senses the right answer is no. Penny gives him a bug report by saying that when a guy asks her out, she imagines he would plan something other than watching television at home. Leonard asks if that included Doctor Who and Penny agrees. Sheldon interrupts by saying Penny is out of the Who-Con. Leonard notes her request and says he will plan something better next time. Penny tells him she will see him later and starts to leave the apartment. Leonard stops her and gives her a piece of paper regarding his bug reports on her. Penny comments that Leonard has a lot of items on his list. Leonard tells her that the list is even color-coded, with red being things needing fixing right away, yellow being things she can work on if she has the time, and green being things he can probably live with. Penny looks annoyed and leaves. Leonard tells Sheldon and Amy that someday they can tell future generations that dating used to be hard. Amy is baffled by what Leonard could have put on the list, such as "hair too golden, laugh too musical and world too much a better place with her mere presence in it". Sheldon adds "constantly talking with food in her mouth". Amy retorts that Penny has a heart full of love and nobody is going to care about what is in her mouth.
Meanwhile, at Raj's apartment, Raj is still interacting with Siri. He asks her what she is doing and she replies that she is talking with him. He tells her she has a beautiful voice and she replies with a thanks and that it is nice to be appreciated. He agrees and asks her why women do not like him. Siri asks whether he would like to conduct a web search on the matter but he declines. He asks her whether she has a last name but she says her name is just Siri. Raj tells her that women such as Cher, Madonna, and Adele, who go without their last names, have rocked him. He tells her his name is Rajesh but she can call him Raj. Siri asks whether he would like to be called Raj. He says he would like to be called "Sexy" so Siri tells him that from now on she will call him "Sexy". Raj replies with a big okay.
The next day at Sheldon and Raj's office, Sheldon is working on his show while Raj is still interacting with Siri. Raj tells Siri he wants to have gelato and Siri replies that there are seven gelato shops nearby. Raj says "thank you, darling" and Siri tells him he, "you're welcome, Sexy". Sheldon tells him well done since he has made a giant evolutionary leap by skipping human interactions altogether to romantically bond with a soul-less machine. Raj tells him that he is not bonding with his phone but Sheldon replies that he understands Raj's fear of his taboo love being known to the public and that his secret is safe with him and that it is just a phone, and winks. Barry Kripke enters to inform them that since a professor urinated in the particle physics laboratory again, his retirement party will be moved up to this Friday and that it will be a potluck event. Raj tells Siri to remind him to bring his famous popovers on Friday morning. Barry comments that Siri's voice recognition is terrible, takes out his iPhone, and asks Siri to recommend a restaurant, but because of his rhotacism, Siri can not comprehend his request. Barry says that Siri sucks but Raj defends Siri by calling her a lady.
Back at the apartment building, Leonard knocks on Penny's door, ready to go out on their date. She tells him to enter and he finds her reading a book. He asks whether she is ready to go but she says she needs to finish the current chapter first. He asks whether she can do that later but she refuses, saying that reading books is a big part of her life now since reading his bug report, and they would have more fun things to talk about if she read more. He says it is great and asked what she is reading. She tells him she is reading Two Weeks to a Rock-Hard Abs. He says the title kinds of spoils the ending. He says the bug report is not supposed to be something for them to get mad at, and that he is addressing her bug report by planning a surprise activity for them. She says fine and tells him she needs to look for a pair of shoes that are not too tall since, according to his bug report, tall shoes make him look as if he is out walking with his mommy. She tells him to peruse her bug report on him first, which is also a long list of things. Leonard reads the list and says he will be quieter if they kiss from now on since she thinks they were "juicy and weird" while he thought it was passionate. He also asks her to specify what she means by his eyebrows are stupid, but later realizes she already put it in the list.
At Raj's apartment, Howard and Bernadette come over for dinner. They ask what is Raj serving and he says something exotic, Peking duck. He tells them when he mentioned the idea to Siri she told him there are four Chinese grocers, two of which are fairly close to him. He adds that Siri's spontaneity is contagious. Bernadette asks Howard who Siri is and whether he is dating somebody new. Howard says "yes, his phone". Bernadette wonders whether it is cute or creepy. Raj offers them wine, and proceeds to say that his choice of wine is not the traditional wine served with Peking duck since it is Siri's suggestion and, despite his hesitance, he does not want to get into an argument with her. He then asks Siri what he should put on her (the phone) for dinner and chooses a black case (i.e. a little black dress). He tells Siri to play some smooth jazz and Siri plays a Kenny G song. Raj is happy with the choice and comments that Siri can read him like a book and that he cannot believe he bought his soulmate at Glendale Galleria. Bernadette tells Howard she is not sure if she wants to stay.
Penny and Leonard are at a shooting range. Penny thinks it is amazing and asks him where he got the idea to bring her here. He confesses that he called her father and asked him about the things she liked to do as a kid, and that taking her here seemed easier than bringing out a cow for her to tip. Penny smiles and tells him he is being great. He responds with surprise for a guy whose neck massages feel like an eagle trying to carry her to its nest. She gives him a bug report and tells him when she compliments him; he takes it and remains quiet. He apologizes and she says to stop apologizing all the time too. He says OK and apologizes again. Penny tells him to get ready to shoot stuff and asks whether he needs help with using a gun. He says he played Grand Theft Auto many times so he can handle it. Penny says she likes it when Leonard gets all gangster and kisses him. He accidentally pulls the trigger and shoots his foot.
Later, Penny helps Leonard walk up the stairs to his apartment. He tells her he has a gunshot wound. She says he has a Reebok with a gunshot wound and an "ouchie" on his pinky toe. Leonard says the hospital gave him a band-aid and it is against the law for the hospital to do so unless it is medically necessary. Penny laughs and thanks him for a cool evening. He thanks her back for hiding his Star Wars socks at the emergency room. He asks her whether that would be the time for them to evaluate their beta test. Penny tells him things are going well. He asks her whether they are still taking things slow since today he got a gunshot wound, and last week he slammed his thumb on a drawer--who knows how much time he has left. Penny smiles, tells him goodnight, kisses him, and leaves to her own apartment. He opens the door and enters his apartment, only to find Sheldon in the middle of rolling another episode of his show. However, this time Sheldon is dressed in a Bavarian outfit and Amy is dressed in a black outfit while holding a giant pretzel and swaying to the beat of the song being played out. The two start speaking in German. Leonard looks at them weirdly and leaves the apartment again.
Raj is all dressed up and carrying a bouquet of roses. He enters a room labelled "The Office of Siri" and finds the actual woman who voices Siri, an extremely attractive woman. Siri sees him and calls him "sexy", asking what she can do for him. He starts getting tongue-tied. Siri tells him that if he wants to make love to her he needs to tell her. He can't utter a word and only mere sounds that Siri can not comprehend. Raj suddenly wakes up from his dream and quickly sits up on his couch, letting out a loud "No-o-o-o-o!"
- The TV Critic: "The gist of the Leonard and Penny story was good. To see them actually working on their relationship was refreshing and hopefully will lead to something new for the show... I often complain that Sheldon is too prominent, so this video podcast plot was an ideal 'C' story... The escalation of his relationship with Siri was funny and sweet and then slowly became very awkward... This probably won't be one people remember especially but it was very solid."
- The A.V. Club gave this episode a C
- IMDb user reviews
- Title Reference: The title is derived from Leonard and Penny discussing the possibility of starting a relationship again, and Leonard's subsequent suggestion that they can start by treating the relationship like a beta test and give "bug reports" to each other, to maintain complete honesty between them.
- This episode was watched by 16.13 million people with a rating of 5.5 (adults 18-49).
- This episode aired in Canada on January 26, 2012 with 3.348 million viewers and a weekly ranking of #1.
- In the United Kingdom, this episode aired on April 5, 2012 with 2.084 million total viewers and a weekly ranking of #3.
- In Australia, it aired on February 14, 2012 with 1.126 million viewers.
- Episode transcript 
- Sheldon wears the "In the Spotlight" t-shirt, featuring retro Batman and Robin and his ManBot t-shirt, arguably his favorite as it is the one he has worn in more episodes than any other - and in more colors (green, blue, and purple). He also sports his Flash distressed logo on black t-shirt.
- Becky O'Donohue provides the voice of Siri, and portrays her as an actual woman in Raj's episode-ending nightmare.
- Sheldon is happy to keep Raj's relationship with Siri a secret, despite having previous trouble keeping secrets ("The Bad Fish Paradigm").
- An issue of the The Journal of Physical Chemistry A ("Dynamics, Kinetics, Environmental Chemistry, Spectroscopy, Structure, Theory") with a picture of Sheldon on the cover is framed in Sheldon's office.
- The flag on the right side of Sheldon and Amy's video is the apartment flag that Sheldon had made and is first seen in "The Staircase Implementation".
- Penny thinks Leonard's eyebrows are stupid.
- After the first take of his podcast is interrupted by Leonard, Sheldon tells Amy that "like the flag over Fort Sumter, I'm still here." This is incorrect; the flag was taken down over Fort Sumter after it surrendered to the Confederates at the start of the American Civil War. He probably meant the flag over Fort McHenry that was "still there" after the British bombardment," inspiring Francis Scott Key to write the national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.
- The camcorder point-of-view is used for the second time in the series (the first time in "The Isolation Permutation").
- This episode was watched by 16.13 million viewers with a rating on 5.5 in adults 18-49, and was the first scripted series to beat American Idol in total viewers and adults 18-49 ratings since Friends ended in 2004.
- Raj likes Cher, Madonna, and Adele.
- The whiteboard Sheldon is pondering over in his office, immediately following the scene where Raj is talking to Siri, has a flag with a blue field in its left third with a white star in the center. This drawing is the Texas state flag, where Sheldon is from.
- Amy refers to the central character of Doctor Who as "Doctor Who" when, in the series, he is always referred to as "The Doctor" (or just "Doctor"). An in-universe explanation could be that since Amy is not a fan of science fiction, she would not know to refer to him by his actual name. This comment was likely done to easily clue in viewers to the fact that the characters were watching Doctor Who without resorting to lengthy explanations.
- When Amy observes that The Doctor (or "Doctor Who" as she calls him) has a fondness for contemporary London, music from the two-part 2008 Doctor Who story "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" can be heard. That story was not set in London (or even on Earth).
- Though she supposedly is not a free spirit willing to wear costumes ("The Justice League Recombination"), Amy does not object to dressing up as a giant pretzel when filming the Sheldon Cooper Presents: Fun With Flags podcast about the Bavarian flag.
- Raj's new phone is an Apple iPhone 4S, which is the only model (at the time of this episode's filming) that supported Siri.
- Leonard's dream date is shown in the last episode, but the audience doesn't get to see their real first date. The second episode of a two episode arc re-establishing a relationship between Penny and Leonard.
- Sheldon and Amy's German is poor. Sheldon's intro "Guten Tag, das YouTube" is not how Germans would address a podcast audience (a definite article would not be used), and after that they only produce a few partially German sentences with strong accents (although Amy does pretty well on the "ch" sound). However, there is nothing wrong with the German part of Sheldon’s sentence "Ich bin ein Bavarian [Bayer]", just like President Kennedy's famous line in his speech in West Germany, "Ich bin ein Berliner" is only widely believed to be mistaken but was in fact entirely correct.
- The boys are seen coming back from Professor Rothman's retirement party at the beginning of "The Rothman Disintegration".
- Second episode where a phone's voice recognition feature fails to understand someone's request. The first was season 1's "The Dumpling Paradox".
- Raj still has the same oversized desk that he brought in a previous episode to irk Sheldon.
- When Leonard shoots himself in the foot at the end of the episode the gun is actually unloaded, this can be seen as Penny racks the slide without a magazine which would eject any live cartridge. She then inserts a magazine and passes the gun to Leonard but at no point racks the slide. This indicates that the firearm is in condition 3 with a loaded magazine but no round in the chamber. Thus the gun cannot actually fire even if Leonard negligently pulls the trigger.
- Penny: Alright! (racks the slide) Let's shoot stuff!
- Howard: Oh, let me try the voice-recognition.
- Raj: Hey, I let you peel the plastic, don't get greedy. (grabs his phone and sits on his place)
- Siri: Hello.
- Raj: What's your name?
- Siri: My name is Siri.
- Howard: Look at that, there's finally a woman in your life you can talk to.
- Raj: Are you single?
- Siri: I don't have a marital status, if that's what you're asking.
- Raj: You're right, that's too personal, we hardly know each other. (pauses) How about a cup of coffee?
- Siri: I found six coffee shops. Three of them are fairly close to you.
- Raj: (stands up and starts to walk out) I will see you gentlemen later.
- Howard: (waits until Raj leaves) She is gonna break his heart.
- Raj: (infatuated by Siri) You have a beautiful voice.
- Siri: Thank you. It's nice to be appreciated.
- Kripke: You got Siwi, huh? Voice wecognition on that thing is tewwible. Look. (into phone) Siwi, can you wecommend a westauwant?
- Siri: I'm sorry, Bawwy. I don't understand wecommend a westauwant.
- Kripke: (into phone) Listen to me. Not westauwant, westauwant.
- Siri: I don't know what you mean by Not westauwant. Westauwant.
- Kripke: See? Total cwap. You suck, Siwi.
- Raj: Hey, don't talk to her like that. She's a lady.
- Kripke: Well, that wady took high-wes pictures of my junk wast night for Craigswist.
- Sheldon: Hello. I'm Doctor Sheldon Cooper, and welcome to the series premiere of Sheldon Cooper Presents: Fun with Flags.
- Sheldon: Why are you waving a white flag?
- Amy: I'm surrendering to fun.
- Penny: That was a really nice dinner. I'm glad you ask me out again.
- Leonard: Me too. I missed you.
- Penny: You see me all the time. Are you sure you just don't miss the sex?
- Leonard: Well, yeah. Sex with you is pretty great. Have you ever tried it?
- Penny: I have. You are... not wrong (pauses) I just think if we're gonna try dating again, we should take things slow.
- Leonard: Oh, I can take it slow. Have I ever told you about my first girlfriend in high school, Karen Berberick? To this day, she doesn't know we were going out. Made it easier on her when I broke things off.
- Penny: Okay, well maybe not that slow.
- Leonard: How about this? Are you familiar with the typical development for computer software?
- Penny: Yup, just for fun, let's say I'm not.
- Leonard: Before an application is released, they give it a trial run. We could do that. If we hit a rough spot, instead of getting mad, let's say, hey, we found a bug and report it so it can be fixed.
- Penny: You mean like a beta test?
- Leonard: Technically, this would be an alpha test. A beta test requires the people that weren't involved in the development of the app...
- Penny: Seriously, do I not get credit for knowing beta test?
- Amy: Hang on, Dr. C. What's vexillology?
- Sheldon: Vexillology is the study of flags.
- Amy: Cool. I think I just learned something!
- Sheldon: Did you have fun doing it?
- Amy: I'll say!
- Amy: Hang on, Dr. Cooper. What's vexillology?
- Sheldon: Vexillology is--why is there a face on that flag?
- Amy: It's Ferdinand T. Flag. I thought he might help bring in some younger viewers.
- Sheldon: Confound it! You're right, it's brilliant. Let's take it from the top.
- Sheldon: Oh, look. (turns flag around) Hello, mister beaver!
- Raj: I can't believe I bought my soul mate at Glendale Galleria.
- Bernadette: (to Howard) I don't know if I wanna stay.
- Bernadette: Who's Siri? Is he dating somebody new?
- Howard: Yes... his phone.
- Bernadette: Is that cute or creepy?
- Howard: Uh-huh.
- Leonard: So, I’ve got a gunshot wound. That’s pretty bad ass.
- Penny: No, you’ve got a Reebok with a gunshot wound and an ouchie on your pinkie toe.
- Leonard: Hello? They gave me a Band-Aid. Hospitals do not issue Band-Aids unless it is medically necessary. That is the law.
- Penny: Well, thank you for a really cool evening.
- Leonard: Thank you for hiding my Star Wars socks at the emergency room. Is it a good time to evaluate the beta test and see where we stand?
- Penny: Things are looking good.
- Leonard: So, are we still taking things slow? Because a gunshot wound today, last week, I slammed my thumb in the kitchen drawer. We don’t know how much time I have.
- Penny: Good night, you.
- Sheldon: Guten tag, das YouTube. Ich bin ein Bavarian. (Good day, the Youtube. I'm a Bavarian.)
- Amy: Und ich bin eine bretzel. (And I'm a pretzel.)
- Sheldon: Und das ist Sheldon Cooper presents Fun... (And that Sheldon Cooper presents Fun...)
- Amy: Mit... (With...)
- Sheldon: Flags.
- ↑ The Big Bang Theory - The Beta Test Initiation (TV Episode 2012) - IMDb
- ↑ The TV Critic's Review
- ↑ The Big Bang Theory: “The Beta Test Initiation” - TV Club - The A.V. Club
- ↑ Thursday Final Ratings: 'The Big Bang Theory' Adjusted Up to Thursday High; 'American Idol' Up; 'The Finder' Adjusted Down - Zap2it
- ↑ Top Programs – Total Canada (English) January 23 - January 29, 2012
- ↑ BARB via Wikipedia
- ↑ Tuesday 14 February 2012 - TV Tonight