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The Big Bang Theory: The Luminous Fish Effect

An argument with the new head of the Physics Department leaves Sheldon without a job. He then proceeds to drive the guys and Penny crazy with his antics so Leonard calls his mother in order to set his friend back on course.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 1x4
Production Number: 3T6603
Airdate: Monday October 15th, 2007

Alternate Airdates:

UK (E4) Mar 05, 2008
NL (Veronica) Mar 23, 2009
DE (Pro7) Aug 01, 2009

Special Guest Stars
Laurie MetcalfLaurie Metcalf
As Mary Cooper

Guest Stars
Mark HarelikMark Harelik
As Dr. Eric Gablehauser
Main Cast
Johnny GaleckiJohnny Galecki
As Leonard Leakey Hofstadter
Jim ParsonsJim Parsons
As Sheldon Lee Cooper
Kaley CuocoKaley Cuoco
As Penny
Simon HelbergSimon Helberg
As Howard Joel Wolowitz
Kunal NayyarKunal Nayyar
As Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali
Episode Notes
Rating: 8.15 million

Not only does Sheldon not look anything like his mother, she is a very religious woman, which he doesn't care about, while she doesn't care about this science stuff. This is a very odd mother-son-relationship.

This episode reveals that Sheldon can speak Hawaiian.

The title ("The Luminous Fish Effect") refers to one of Sheldon's experiments he does during his period of unemployment, and the experiment includes glow-in-the-dark fishes.

This episode reveals that Sheldon is called "Shelly" by his mother, Mary Cooper.

This episode reveals that Sheldon’s father is dead.

This marks the first appearance of Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon's mother and Mark Harelik as Dr. Gablehouser, the Physics Department Chairman at Cal Tech.

Episode Quotes
Sheldon: Well, here's an interesting turn of events.
(Howard walks into the party with a tall gorgeous blond on his arm.)
Leonard: Howard brought a date?
Sheldon: A more plausible explanation is that his work in robotics has made an amazing leap forward.
(Howard joins their conversation.)
Howard: Hey, what up, science bitches?

Leonard: You're making eggs for breakfast?
Sheldon: This isn't breakfast, it's an experiment.
Leonard: Huh. 'Cause it looks a lot like breakfast.
Sheldon: I finally have time to test my hypothesis about the separation of water molecules from the egg proteins and its impact on the taste.
Leonard: Sounds yummy. I look forward to your work with bacon.

Mary: I tell ya, I love the boy to death, but he has been difficult since he fell out of me at the Kmart.

Penny: Has Shelly ever freaked out like this before?
Mary: Oh, all the time. I remember one summer when he was 13, he built a small nuclear reactor in the shed and told everybody he was gonna provide free electricity for the whole town. Well, the only problem was he had no, watchacall, "fissionable materials". Anyway, when he went on the Internet's to get some, a man from the gover'ment 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: Oh, my God, this is the best cobbler I've ever had!
Mary: It was always Sheldon's favorite. You know what the secret ingredient is?
Penny: Love?
Mary: Lard.

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

Mary: He gets his temper from his daddy.
Leonard: Ah.
Mary: He's got my eyes.
Leonard: I see.
Mary: All that scientific stuff that comes from Jesus.

Episode Goofs
Nitpick: Gablehauser, the new Physics Department chairman, doesn't know any of the guys as evidenced by his asking their names at the reception. This would be understandable if he had come from a different university but earlier in the dialogue it had been established that he was already at Cal Tech. Shouldn't he know at least a couple of our heroes?

Cultural References
Sheldon's mother (Laurie Metcalf)

The actress playing Sheldon's mother is Laurie Metcalf, who had a part on ABC's 1988-1997 TV show "Roseanne". She has this in common with the actor playing Leonard and the actress playing Leslie Winkle, as all three were in "Roseanne" together.

Leonard: Should I call Science Magazine and tell them to hold the cover.

Leonard is probably referring to the science magazine known as "Science 80" that was released in November 1979 and was published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This magazine was stopped in July 1986.

Mary: I tell ya, I love the boy to death, but he has been difficult since he fell out of me at the Kmart.

Kmart (also referred to as "K-Mart") is a chain of discount department stores that are located in United States, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and Guam. It was originally founded as "S. S. Kresge Company" in 1899, but was renamed Kmart in 1962.

Mary: The Lord spoke to him and moved him to give us all 20 percent off on LASEK.

LASEK (shortened for Laser-Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratectomy) is a laser eye surgery procedure intended for the use of correcting a person's vision, which reduces the need of glasses or contact lenses. The first LASEK was done in 1996 by Dimitri Azar, an ophthalmologist and refractive surgeon.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorChuck Lorre  |  Bill Prady
Executive ProducerChuck Lorre  |  Bill Prady
Co-Executive ProducerDavid Goetsch  |  Robert Cohen (1)
ProducerSteven Molaro  |  Faye Oshima Belyeu
Co-ProducerMary T. Quigley  |  Peter Chakos
Consulting ProducerLee Aronsohn  |  David Litt  |  Jennifer Glickman
Associate ProducerKristy Cecil
Production DesignerJohn Shaffner
EditorPeter Chakos
CastingKen Miller (2)  |  Nikki Valko
Unit Production ManagerKelly Lee
First Assistant DirectorAnthony Rich
Second Assistant DirectorChris Klausen
Costume DesignerMary T. Quigley
HairstylistFaye Woods
Set DecoratorAnn Shea (2)
Property MasterScott L. London
Production Sound MixerBruce Peters
Script SupervisorJulie Fleischer
Production CoordinatorGregg Moscot
Re-Recording MixerCharlie McDaniel, III  |  Bob La Masney
Director of PhotographySteven V. Silver
Executive ConsultantMark Roberts (2)  |  Eddie Gorodetsky  |  Don Foster
Associate DirectorHoward Murray
Casting AssociatePeter Pappas
Makeup ArtistPeggy Nichols
Theme Song Written And Performed ByBarenaked Ladies
Science ConsultantDavid Saltzberg Ph.D.
Post Production ServicesTechnicolor
Sound Services ByWarner Bros. Post Production Services
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