Martin Carr reviews the eleventh episode of Young Sheldon…
Having a sideswipe at organised religion is always going to make good television. Using an oblivious child genius as your mouthpiece takes that conceit and adds another string to its bow. Working that in alongside dice based role-playing games and outstanding character moments takes the original idea and expands it out into something else entirely. For the eighteen minutes and change which this episode inhabits we get landmark character banter, careful comments on religion and some solid entertainment.
Using Mary Cooper as a jumping off point there are some great one liners, unique uses for subtitles as well as dream sequences which are oddly watchable. Lance Barber and Annie Potts especially shine as grandmother and son-in-law respectively, taking measured pot shots at each other without it feeling vindictive, laboured or an easy laugh. Zoe Perry also hit her stride as Sheldon’s legendary matriarch going into bat against the Devi, when it appears the existence of said deity might have an untoward effect.
Sunday school classes are shown no quarter as Pastor Jeff takes a verbal tongue lashing and Billy Sparks comes into his own. Whoever came up with the idea of using his ignorance as a punchline deserves several medals because this actor is genius. Mere moments behind the beat in any joke delivery or circumstance Billy Sparks might be my favourite character thus far. Played with just the right amount of detail which makes you think the cogs are only just moving, he gets a few stand out moments which are laugh out loud funny. Matt Hobby’s Pastor Jeff keeps things fresh by coming across like a Coen brothers character stuck in sit com limbo. By turns easy-going, laid back and smilingly confrontational Hobby plays it straight throughout, reacting off Barber, Potts and Perry in their few scenes together.
Once again Lorre and Molaro have circumvented expectations by discussing contentious issues on primetime television. Wrapping their subject matter up in a neat pint-sized bow with a butter wouldn’t melt face attached, means they can literally say anything. For myself and many others the joy of Sheldon Cooper and possibly his chief reason for remaining popular is that lack of social skill. His inherent childlike curiosity coupled with a basic ignorance of people means he is both the perfect foil and instigator. Untroubled by an understanding of propriety, that deviation from the norm allows any topic to be tackled without fear of reprisal.