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102 - Rockets, Communists, and the Dewey Decimal System

Aired Thursday, November 2, 2017
Rockets, Communists, and the Dewey Decimal System

When Sheldon learns his mother is worried about his lack of friends, Sheldon turns to the Dale Carnegie book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" to try make a new acquaintance.

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  • Ratings - Viewers: 12.66m Household Rating: 8.2/13 Adults 18-49 Rating: 2.2/8 Rank: 1

Episode Notes

  • Title Reference: "Rockets" refers to Sheldon's experimentation with model rockets. "Communists" refers to Tam's comments about his family leaving Vietnam. "Dewey Decimal System" refers to Adult Sheldon's comment about the library, where Sheldon went to learn about making friends.
  • Sheldon mentioned burning down his garage with a model rocket on a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory. [1104]
  • Mary and Sheldon have mentioned an attempt by Sheldon to build a nuclear reactor in his shed on The Big Bang Theory, although that incident was said to take place when he was thirteen. [104, 823]
  • Despite being visited by the FBI as a child after attempting to source radioactive material, Sheldon again tried to purchase Uranium-235 on the Internet in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. That attempt reportedly prompted the Department of Homeland Security to contact his mother. [418]


Quote from George Jr.

George Jr.: So, Vietnam, like in Rambo.
Tam: Yes.
George Jr.: That's a cool movie.
Tam: Yes.
George Jr.: Are you in it?
Tam: No.

Quote from Sheldon

Tam: So we came to Medford and opened up a convenience store. My parents work 16 hours a day, seven days a week for very little money. [silence]
Sheldon: Well, that was depressing.

Quote from Sheldon

Sheldon: Greetings from stall number one. As much as I detest that odd-smelling cigarette, I do applaud your rule-breaking bravado. My name is Sheldon. What's yours?

Quote from Mary

Mary: All right, Tam. I decided I was gonna make you a real Texas dinner. Barbecued chicken and brisket.
Tam: Thank you.
Mary: Well, I figured you were probably tired of stuff wiggling around on your plate.

Quote from Sheldon

Ms. Hutchins: Aw, honey, you having a hard time adjusting to high school?
Sheldon: I'm having a hard time adjusting to Earth.

View more quotes from this episode

Featured Music

  • Youth Gone Wild
    Skid Row

    Youth Gone Wild Sheldon struggles through the school hallway to try reach the library.

  • What I Like About You
    The Romantics

    What I Like About You Sheldon attempts to befriend Billy Sparks.

  • Heart and Soul
    Huey Lewis and The News

    Heart and Soul In the car home, Sheldon and Mary discuss his attempts to make a friend.

Episode Trivia

  • Which TV series did Missy tell Sheldon she was going to watch?
    • Diff'rent Strokes
    • The Facts of Life
    • ALF
    • Punky Brewster
  • Which French philosopher did Adult Sheldon quote?
    • Jean-Paul Satre
    • Simone de Beauvoir
    • Michel Foucault
    • Albert Camus
  • Which action movie did Georgie discuss with Tam?
    • Commando
    • Predator
    • Apocalypse Now
    • Rambo

Episode Recap

In the high school cafeteria, Mary and George Sr. watch as Sheldon eats alone at a table. When Mary wonders why his brother can’t eat at the same table, George points out that nobody in high school would want to eat with a nine-year-old. Mary wants to go sit with Sheldon, but her husband doesn’t think it would end well for Sheldon to be seen sitting with his mommy. George tells Mary to give it time and it’ll work itself out. Adult Sheldon says he enjoyed being alone as it gave him time to think about the important things.

At home, Mary is peeling potatoes while Missy does her homework in the kitchen. When Missy sighs, Mary asks what’s wrong. Missy wants to know why math is easy for Sheldon, but hard for her. Mary says Missy has her own gifts, like her beautiful hair. When Georgie arrives home, Mary asks him to do her a favor and sit with Sheldon at lunch tomorrow. After Missy warns him not to it could wreck his social life, Georgie says he can’t do it. Mary admits to Missy that she is worried about Sheldon not having a friend in the world. Later, Missy goes to see Sheldon as he works on a model rocket in the garage. When Missy tells him he’s making their mom a nervous wreck by not having any friends, Sheldon insists he’s fine without friends.

At school the next day, Sheldon struggles to get through the throngs of bigger students in the hallway as he heads to the library. When Sheldon arrives at the library, he mentions to the librarian how he needs to make a friend. After she recommends Dale Carnegie’s “How To Win Friends And Influence People”, Sheldon starts reading the book.

Back at home, as George reads the paper, Sheldon attempts to use the Carnegie techniques he’s learned on his father; Sheldon keeps repeating George’s name and compliments him on his full head of hair. When George asks what’s going on, Sheldon explains he borrowed the book as he knew his mother is worried about his lack of friends. Following that successful beta test, Sheldon decides to practice the Carnegie principles on someone his own age: Billy Sparks. When Sheldon goes to Billy’s shed where he keeps his pet chicken, Billy Sparks appreciates Sheldon’s effort to communicate with him, but he is not very talkative.

The next day at school, Sheldon tries to befriend a cheerleader by her locker, two teenagers smoking in the school lavatories, and a group of jocks by the vending machines. That night in their bedroom, Missy is combing her hair as Sheldon reads the Dale Carnegie book. When Missy asks why Sheldon is reading the book again, he says he must have missed something the first time as it hasn’t helped him find a friend. Missy asks if he checked the card inside, which would give him the names of the other desperate people who’ve borrowed the book to make friends.

As Mary drives Sheldon to school the next day, she tells him his dad told her about the new book. After Sheldon explains it’s about how to make new friends, Sheldon admits it’s not something that interests him, but he knows how much it’s worrying her. Mary tells him he doesn’t need to go to any trouble for her, but Sheldon admits he likes doing things for her. Sheldon tells Mary about Missy’s idea to check out the other people who’ve borrowed the book.

At school, Sheldon goes to Ms. Ingram’s classroom during recess to ask her if she’s the one who checked the book out. When she starts talking about her break-up with an unnamed man, Adult Sheldon admits the list turned out to be a double-edged sword as a self-help book from 1936 was only of interest to adults. Sheldon then goes to Ms. MacElroy, who talks about borrowing the book to try get a promotion which ultimately went to a man. Finally, Sheldon visits Mr. Givens, who reveals his own anguish about breaking up with a colleague he dated.

When Sheldon goes to the library to return the Dale Carnegie book, a fellow student asks him if it’s good as he has trouble making friends, too. When Sheldon notices the boy is reading a book on rocket development, he says he’s read it too and it’s excellent. Sheldon wishes him well on his search for a friend and then leaves the library. Sheldon quickly returns to say if the boy hasn’t yet made a friend, he’s in luck.

On the drive home, Sheldon asks his mother what she knows about the drug Prozac as he thinks his teachers could benefit from it. Sheldon then informs Mary that he made a new friend. Later, in their bedroom, Mary is ecstatic as she tells George that Sheldon made a friend. After Sheldon knocks and asks to come in, he asks when he will be allowed to continue his rocketry. George says he has already explained that Sheldon can build them, just not launch them, but Sheldon says launching is the fun part. After hearing it was something Sheldon wanted to do with his new friend, Mary gives in and says he start launching rockets again despite previously burning down the garage. Mary suggests Sheldon invite his new buddy over for dinner.

At school, Sheldon tells the boy his mother wanted to invite him for dinner. Later, the boy arrives at the Cooper household. At the dinner table, the awkward silence is broken when George Sr. asks Tam about his name. After Tam explains it’s a Vietnamese name, George Sr. talks about his time with the army in Vietnam, while Georgie talks about the movie Rambo. When Mary comes out with “a real Texas dinner”, she insensitively suggests that Tam must be fed up of food wriggling about on his plate. As Mary says grace, she tells Tam to feel free to say “Buddha” in his mind when she says Jesus. Mary is surprised, if not pleased, to learn Tam is actually Catholic. When Mary asks Tam about his family, he starts to tell them the story of how his family moved from Vietnam. There is silence when Tam finishes, until Sheldon declares “That was depressing.”

In the garage, Sheldon and Tam are looking at a model rocket, unsure why it did not launch. Back in the house, Mary answers the door to two FBI agents who say they are looking for Sheldon Lee Cooper. George thinks it must be a mistake, until the agents explain that somebody by that name recently contacted a Canadian mining operation to try buy uranium. After Mary realizes it might not be a mistake, they invite the agents in so they can see Sheldon is just a harmless, nine-year-old. As the agents enter the house, Sheldon’s rocket finally launches and flies through the house.

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