The Beta Test Initiation
"The Beta Test Initiation" is the fourteenth episode of the fifth season of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The episode premiered on January 26, 2012 in the United States on CBS. In the episode, Leonard and Penny have resumed dating and they have agreed to a beta test relationship where problems are reported and fixed rather than them getting mad at each other. Leonard goes overboard listing Penny’s faults though their next date at a firing range goes well except for a little accident. Sheldon and Amy have started a weekly Internet podcast on the subject of flags and Raj has fallen in love with his iPhone 4S virtual assistant, Siri.
|"The Beta Test Initiation"|
|The Big Bang Theory episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5|
|Directed by||Mark Cendrowski|
|Story by||Chuck Lorre|
|Teleplay by||Bill Prady|
|Original air date||January 26, 2012|
|Running time||22 minutes|
The story and concept of the episode was written by series co-creator Chuck Lorre and writers Steven Molaro and Eric Kaplan. The teleplay was written by co-creator Bill Prady, and writers Dave Goetsch and Maria Ferrari. "The Beta Test Initiation" was directed by Mark Cendrowski. The episode received positive reviews from television critics who described the episode as funny and one of the better episodes. "The Beta Test Initiation" garnered 15.96 million viewers in the United States and 5.4 rating in the 18–49 demographic, according to Nielsen ratings.
Sheldon and Amy are shooting an Internet show called Fun with Flags. Leonard interrupts them heading out to have dinner with Penny. Penny is glad that he asked her out again and on the way back, suggests that they should take their relationship slow. Leonard suggests that they treat any issues as computer bugs and report them so they can be fixed, and they agree to keep each other informed. Leonard returns to his apartment interrupting Fun with Flags, take 47.
Back at Leonard's apartment, the gang is watching Doctor Who. Penny asks Leonard if this is a date. Leonard cautiously replies no. Penny gives him a bug report that more thought should be put into dates. Leonard stops her and presents her with a long list of her faults in a bug report. An annoyed Penny leaves and Amy is baffled by what Leonard could put in the list about Penny’s faults. Leonard enters Penny's apartment and finds her reading a book since Leonard said she should read more so they would have more to talk about. Leonard said that they agreed not get mad at the bug reports, and that he is addressing his by planning a surprise evening for her. She goes to find a low heel pair of shoes that did not make him feel like he was out walking with his mommy. She also presents her long bug report for him to peruse which includes items about his noisy juicy kisses and his stupid eyebrows.
They go on a date to a firing range which Penny likes, as Leonard asked her father what things she liked to do as a kid, commenting that it was not bad for a guy whose neck massages felt like eagle claws. Penny gives him a bug report to just take compliments and not to apologize so much, and tells him to get ready to shoot stuff. She kisses him causing Leonard to accidentally shoot himself in the foot. Later, Penny assists Leonard up the stairs to his apartment. Leonard refers to his gunshot wound which Penny corrects as having a Reebok with a gunshot wound and an "ouchie" on his pinky toe. Leonard says that a hospital does not give out Band-Aids unless it was medically necessary. Penny laughs and thanks him for a cool evening. Leonard then wonders about their Beta test. Penny tells him that things are going well and kisses him good night. He enters his apartment finding Sheldon dressed in a Bavarian outfit, and Amy is dressed as a giant pretzel and swaying to German music. Leonard, creeped out, leaves.
Meanwhile, Raj has purchased the iPhone 4S and quickly finds himself enjoying using the personal assistant Siri, soon becoming quite attached to Siri with Howard figuring that she will break his heart. Barry Kripke, who, in spite of his speech impediment, tries the Siri voice recognition program for himself, but becomes frustrated with the program's inability to understand his voice commands. Howard and Bernadette come for dinner with Raj who creepily keeps talking to Siri making Bernadette very uncomfortable. Raj takes a bunch of flowers to 'The Office of Siri' and enters to find that Siri is a beautiful woman (Becky O'Donohue). When she asks him if she can help, he finds that he cannot talk to her even when she tells him that she will make love to him if he will just tell her. It is then discovered the whole thing was a dream, as Raj wakes up screaming.
Guest stars included John Ross Bowie as Barry Kripke and Becky O'Donohue as Siri. "The Beta Test Initiation" is the second episode of a two episode arc featuring Leonard and Penny attempting to restart their relationship that has been one of the major plot lines and driving forces of the series. The arc began with the previous episode The Recombination Hypothesis where Leonard imagined what restarting their relationship would be like and concludes with him asking her out. Becky O'Donohue provides the voice of the fictional Siri for the episode (in real life the voice of Apple's Siri was provided by voice actress Susan Bennett), and portrays her as an actual woman in Raj's episode-ending nightmare. The flag on the right side of Sheldon and Amy's video is the apartment flag that Sheldon had made and is first seen in "The Staircase Implementation".
"The Beta Test Initiation" was originally broadcast on January 26, 2012 in the United States between 8:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Upon airing, "The Beta Test Initiation" garnered 16.13 million viewers.
The Beta Test Initiation episode received positive reviews from television commentators. Kristen Elizabeth of TV Equals noted the "episode was a great example of how The Big Bang Theory works best as an ensemble." Elizabeth also enjoyed Raj's dinner party and the manner in which his "creepy" behavior disturbed Howard and Bernadette. R.L. Shaffer of IGN found that the episode "felt a lot more along the lines of the first two seasons" since the fans got "to watch our nerds do what they do best – nerd out". R.L. Shaffer liked Sheldon's "Fun with Flags" series, calling it "one of the season's funnier gags." He also enjoyed the approach of Penny and Leonard's date, though he would have liked to see Penny fire off a few rounds at the shooting range in order to see Leonard feel emasculated at the sight of his girlfriend engaging in activities considered the domain of men. Carla Day of TV Fanatic wrote that "this episode was a winner because all three storylines were full of laughs" and was delighted that Penny and Leonard were back together and that the show is funnier due to their relationship. Day found that Amy made a good sidekick for Sheldon during the flag telecast, especially as the pretzel, though "Raj and Siri provided the best laughs".
- "The Big Bang Theory: "The Beta Test Initiation" Review". January 26, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- "The Beta Test Initiation". TV Guide. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- "The Big Bang Theory:Episode Info". September 21, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
- ""The Big Bang Theory" Tops "American Idol" in Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54 for the Second Consecutive Week in Common Half-Hour". The Futon Critic. January 27, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- "The Beta Test Initiation". The Big Bang Theory. Season 5. Episode 14. January 26, 2012.
- "The Staircase Implementation". The Big Bang Theory. Season 3. Episode 22. May 17, 2010.
- Elizabeth, Kristen (January 26, 2012). "The Big Bang Theory "The Beta Test Initiation" Review". Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- "The Big Bang Theory: "The Beta Test Initiation" Review". IGN. January 26, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
- Day, Carla (January 26, 2012). "The Big Bang Theory Review: The Siri Love Connection". Retrieved August 17, 2012.