The Santa Simulation
|"The Santa Simulation"|
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Mark Cendrowski|
|Teleplay by||Steven Molaro, Jim Reynolds, and Maria Ferrari|
|Story by||Chuck Lorre, Eric Kaplan and Steve Holland|
|Original air date||December 13, 2012|
Dakin Matthews as Santa Claus
"The Santa Simulation" is the eleventh episode of the sixth season of the American comedy television series The Big Bang Theory. The episode was originally aired on the CBS television network on December 13, 2012. The story was created by Chuck Lorre, Eric Kaplan and Steve Holland, and turned into a teleplay by Steven Molaro, Jim Reynolds, and Maria Ferrari. Mark Cendrowski directed the episode.
The series depicts a group of male friends employed at the California Institute of Technology, and their relationships with others. In this episode, Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki) runs a Christmas-themed Dungeons & Dragons game for his friends. Meanwhile, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and the girls take Raj (Kunal Nayyar) to a club.
"The Santa Simulation" received mostly positive reviews from television critics, with comparisons being made to other shows such as Arrested Development and Community due to the relationships and the Dungeons & Dragons game. The episode was viewed by 16.77 million viewers and received a 5.4/17 percent rating among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, ranking first in its timeslot. The Big Bang Theory was also ranked as the highest-rated program of the night.
Leonard, Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Howard (Simon Helberg) each inform their girlfriends that they are participating in a game of Dungeons & Dragons and that the girls are banned from participating, while Raj informs Stuart (Kevin Sussman). The game begins at Leonard and Sheldon's apartment, with Leonard as the dungeon master, who reveals the game has a Christmas theme by giving Sheldon a scroll in a Christmas stocking and telling them that their characters have to save Santa Claus from hungry ogres. Sheldon is not happy, but the game begins with Raj's character dying in the first room of the dungeon after walking into a trap.
The girls enter the apartment and do a runway show for the boys in sexy dresses (with the exception of Amy (Mayim Bialik), who has a dress Penny describes as from "Forever 63") in an attempt to persuade their boyfriends to go with them to the bar. None of the boys pay any interest except Raj, who wishes to go as his character is already dead. After the girls initially refuse, they allow Raj to go with them.
When the girls and Raj arrive at the club, they decide to find a girl for Raj, who initially says that he requires someone physically attractive before admitting that he would take anyone. In the game, a trapped room requires the singing of the carol "Good King Wenceslas" to prevent all the characters from being crushed to death. Although he only needs to sing the first verse, Sheldon insists on finishing the song.
Raj returns to the girl's table with a fake email address from a girl. Disappointed, he complains that he cannot find anyone and laments about how he used to fancy both Penny and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch). Amy suggests that at some point he will find her attractive, to which he responds that he never will, despite encouragement from both Penny and Bernadette to agree. Leonard tells Sheldon that he is pleased to see he has found his holiday spirit, and the two discuss their childhood Christmas experiences.
Amy and Raj connect over their failed love lives, and Raj suggests that he would like to find someone like her. Satisfied, she leaves the club with the others in tow. Raj laments to Penny that he may now find Amy attractive.
In the game, the latest puzzle results in the boys playing "Jingle Bells" on bells in order to lower a drawbridge. Their characters find Santa and are about to release him when Sheldon double crosses the group, paralysing the other characters and throwing away the only key to Santa's shackles. Sheldon explains that his maternal grandfather (whom he called "Pop-Pop") was the only member of his family who supported his scientific pursuits. "Pop-Pop" died when Sheldon was five; Sheldon asked Santa to bring him back for Christmas and instead received a set of Lincoln Logs.
The episode ends with Sheldon dreaming that Santa (Dakin Matthews) is visiting him in his apartment. He explains that bringing back Sheldon's grandfather was outside of his powers and apologizes for not being able to do so. However, he then surprises Sheldon by firing a cannon at him in revenge for leaving him to be eaten by the ogres. After Santa states "Ho-ho-ho, you big dork!", Sheldon wakes up from the nightmare.
Broadcast and reception
"The Santa Simulation" originally aired on CBS on December 13, 2012. The episode was viewed by 16.77 million viewers and received a 5.4/17% share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49. It was top in its timeslot, ahead of the Fox Network's reality television singing competition The X Factor which received a 2.4/7 percent rating and an episode of the ABC drama series Last Resort, which received a 1.0/3 percent rating. The Big Bang Theory was also the highest rated television show of the night.
The A.V. Club reviewer Oliver Sara thought that the episode made Sheldon more sympathetic, while changing the dynamic between Raj and Stuart to something similar to Tobias Fünke and Michael Bluth from Arrested Development. He hoped that the writers would commit to answering the question finally on whether or not Raj is homosexual, and gave the episode an overall grade of "B". IGN writer Jesse Schedeen enjoyed both halves of the episode, but felt that the girls' bar scenes needed more time. While he compared the use of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the episode to "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" that of the series Community, he said the "results were characteristically brilliant", but that the "D&D adventure was more of a loose framing device in this case". He compared Sheldon's breakdown in the episode to that of Pierce Hawthorne in the Community episode, and thought that Sheldon's family revelation was dealt with in a silly manner rather than something "overly depressing". He also enjoyed the beginnings of a new bond between Raj and Amy. He summarised the episode by saying "Season 6 has generally been underwhelming after a fairly strong start. This was the first episode in a while that I genuinely enjoyed without any real reservations."
Carla Day of TV Fanatic doubted she would have enjoyed the episode more if she was a Dungeons & Dragons player. She was left disappointed by the girl's bar scenes, and thought the "only entertaining moment was when Raj and Amy bonded over their youthful woes with the opposite sex". She thought the boy's side of the episode fell flat, with the exception of Sheldon singing and the bell scene. ScreenCrave's Candace Butler enjoyed the manner in which Leonard had tailored the experience, saying "we like how his desire to save Santa mimics our desire to retain holiday traditions of caroling, presents or a holiday-themed mocha at Starbucks". She gave the episode an overall score of 9/10, and said, "The Santa Simulation" was a thought-provoking and humorous Christmas-themed episode. Big Bang Theory did not disappoint when exploring Christmastime, gender roles and innuendo." Maane Khatchatourian for Entertainment Weekly thought that it wasn't as good a Christmas episode as season 2's "The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis", but that "it was hilarious and heartfelt, nonetheless". They were pleased with Raj getting more attention in the episode, but also felt that the two sides of the episode reaffirmed the stereotypes of the characters.
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- Bibel, Sara. "Thursday Final Ratings: 'The Vampire Diaries' Adjusted Up; 'Last Resort', 'Two and a Half Men', 'Person of Interest', 'Grey's Anatomy' & 'Scandal' Adjusted Down". December 14, 2012. TV by the Numbers. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Rice, Lynette (December 14, 2012). "'Big Bang Theory' is tops on Thursday". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Butler, Candace (December 14, 2012). "The Big Bang Theory: The Santa Simulation: Episode 11 Season 6 --TV Reviews". ScreenCrave. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Sava, Oliver (December 13, 2012). "“The Santa Simulation”". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Schedeen, Jesse (December 13, 2012). ""HO HO HO, YOU BIG DORK!"". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Day, Carla (December 14, 2012). "The Big Bang Theory Review: D&D Christmas Edition". TV Fanatic. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- Khatchatourian, Maane (December 14, 2012). "'The Big Bang Theory' react: The gang plays Christmas-themed Dungeons & Dragons". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 18, 2012.