Hyphen TV: Pack Your Plasma Torch

May 7, 2013

Contestant Alison Wong, who has an IQ of 125.

It's time to welcome a new
show into the fold! The Big Brain Theory premiered on the Discovery
Channel this week. Hosted by Kal Penn(!), the show is basically Top Chef
or Project Runway for engineers. Each week, the ten smarty pants (no,
seriously -- the contestants' chyrons list not their ages or hometowns,
but their IQs) have to solve a different complicated engineering
challenge, and one contestant gets eliminated at the end.

Kal Penn stands on a little platform!

premiere had the contestants figuring out how to keep explosives
in the back of two pickup trucks from detonating when the trucks
collided head-on. After half an hour of brainstorming,
each contestant presented an idea to Kal and the judges. The top
two presenters were made team captains. I thought it
was interesting that one of the team captains, Amy, chose Andrew Stroup,
an engineer for the department of defense, as her first teammate,
saying that "he looks like a fierce competitor." One assumes that the
participants didn't know one another well at this point, so what exactly
"looked fierce" about Andrew, I wonder? His glasses? His Koreanness?
Before you accuse me of jumping to conclusions, take note of the other
team captain Joe, whose second choice was product designer Alison Wong.
This was starting to feel like a parallel universe where the Asian
kids are picked first, not last (to be fair, I was and still am a
very, very unathletic Asian kid).

I mean, I'm not saying he's not fierce...

The rest played out like
a math and physics-heavy version of the workroom scenes we've all
watched before: as stress levels rose, tempers flared, bitter interviews
were given, and general freak-outs commenced all around. In the end,
both teams' explosives were set off (though Amy, Andrew, and the rest of
their team saw a delayed explosion compared to the other team), and Kal
sent team leader Joe home with a pretty hilarious dismissal line:
"Please pack your plasma torch and go." Sort of a perfect combination of
Top Chef's knives, Survivor's torch, and Ghostbusters' plasma. I am
definitely a fan of this show.

Speaking of Survivor, Brenda
got to show off her water challenge prowess once again, as there was an
elimination challenge in which the survivors had to balance on the
angled "roof" of a house-shaped float that was bobbing in the ocean; they had to move their
feet higher and higher up the angled sides as time passed. A couple
people gave up immediately, going for donuts instead of trying for
immunity, and others fell off shortly after. Brenda and Andrea, however,
lasted for over THREE HOURS. Andrea asked Brenda if she'd be willing to
step down (they're in the same alliance, supposedly, so losing immunity
wouldn't prove to be a big threat), but Brenda didn't budge. Eventually
they created a Survivor first when they decided between themselves to
up the challenge a level and balance on just one leg. Brenda finally
lost her balance, and Andrea won immunity.

This isn't Brenda, but I wanted you to see how hard this was. Three. Hours.

You'd think that
the competition would win both women the respect of all, but Brenda's
skillz only ignited Andrea's suspicion and fear. Brenda had proven
herself too good a competitor, and Andrea wanted her out. However,
Cochran spilled Andrea's plan to Brenda, who then flipped it and
reversed it to blindside Andrea at tribal, actually getting her to yelp
"What?!" when her name was read off a second time. Nice one, guys!
Brenda, you may have more strategic skills than we've been led to
believe thus far.

On The Voice, Judith was up against
Orlando in the knockout rounds. She sang "Always on My Mind" by Willie
Nelson, a slightly surprising choice, but one she explained as a
reminder of her grandmother, who passed away a month ago and who Judith
wish she had spent more time with. Her performance was spectacular as
usual, and the judges were impressed as usual. Blake said, "Judith, not
only did you pick Adam as your coach -- and I wanted you badly -- now
you come up here and do a Willie Nelson song. Why don't you just come
out here and punch me in the face?"

Judith can work a tune and a jumpsuit.

Coach Adam told Judith,
"The song choice that you made was brilliant. It juxtaposes who you are
as an artist; it's very much the not obvious choice and it's a pretty
stellar, pretty incredible move. So that was amazing." Do I even need to
say that Judith won and will be on the live shows this week? Go Judith


Dianne Choie


Dianne Choie's TV is in Brooklyn, NY. She has a cat, several reusable shopping bags, and other mildly annoying stereotypes of youngish people who live in Brooklyn.