Sheldon gets in touch with his agoraphobic side in week 2 when he realizes, in the opening sequence, he “only” has around 60 years to live. According to his complex calculations (which are sketched on a magic eraser board), that means he’ll die before science conceives a unified field theory and creates functioning cold fusion.
Worse, it means he’ll miss—just by a little—the day when man transfers his conscious into machines and become immortal. Even more disappointing, he’ll miss the creation of the dogopus, a hybrid dog and octopus that can play fetch underwater—with 8 balls, no less. Even a dog hater like Sheldon couldn’t resist the dogopus.
Sheldon decides to make extending his life a priority so he might live long enough to join his mind with a robot. He starts by changing his diet. The usual Thursday pizza night becomes “cruciferous vegetable night.” Changing any part of his routine—especially his diet—is no trivial matter for Sheldon. And his body doesn’t thank him for it, either. Following the first official cruciferous vegetable night, he wakes late at night with terrible abdominal pains, thinking that it’s appendicitis. As Leonard gets ready to drive him to the hospital, the pain reveals itself as something other than appendicitis—something decidedly less dire and distinctly more gaseous and audible.
Sheldon also decides to take up jogging and drafts Penny as his partner. Their first Friday jogging date doesn’t go well; they end up falling down the stairs on the way out, and as Penny helps Sheldon up, she gets a loud, personal example of the perils of cruciferous vegetable night. “If it makes you feel any better,” Sheldon says, “Thursday is no longer cruciferous vegetable night.”
After the accident on the stairs, Sheldon decides his body is “too fragile to endure the vicissitudes of the world” and creates a “mobile virtual presence device” for himself. Basically, he rigs a monitor, speakers and a webcam onto a set of remote controlled wheels and broadcasts his face from his bedroom using a laptop computer. He also hangs a tee-shirt from a coat hanger just below the monitor to add that touch of Sheldon-esque style.
By his reasoning, he will thus remain safe and ensconced, dealing with the outside world through his virtual presence, completely protected, until technology becomes available to allow him to merge his conscious with cybernetics.
Fortunately, there’s also a clause in the roommate agreement stipulating what happens if one roommate should become a robot (which technically covers Virtual Sheldon), ensuring Leonard’s cooperation. Throughout the remainder of the episode, we see Virtual Sheldon riding to work with Leonard, interacting with colleagues at the university, struggling to open his office door and giving Penny grief at The Cheesecake Factory when he, Leonard, Howard and Raj have lunch. Penny refuses to serve Virtual Sheldon and suggests the four have lunch at the nearby Olive Garden instead.
“Vegetable” wasn’t as amusing as week 1’s “The Robotic Manipulation” (which would be a fitting title for this episode as well), and I already miss Amy Farrah Fowler. Not to say “The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification” was without laughs, but even for a show that’s regularly over the top, Virtual Sheldon was a bit much. Not to worry though, Mayim Bialik and her ridiculously obnoxious Amy Farrah Fowler return in week 3.