Whoever keeps saying that multi-camera sitcoms are dead obviously hasn’t tuned into CBS on Mondays. All that’s needed to make something entertaining is a couple of crafty TV veterans, a brilliant idea, and actors who are waiting for their chance to shine. The Big Bang Theory is the latest of CBS’s long legacy of sitcom successes. Still, one has to wonder how anyone could make nuclear scientists trying to have a social life work. That may sound hard, but creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady have made it look easy. It all starts with their cast.
“If you go back and watch that you’ll see that the comic success of that big character (Sheldon) is based on the timing of the person working with him,” said co-creator Bill Prady at Comic-Con in July. “You know the thing is Jim’s character, not Jim himself, Sheldon is insufferable, except that Leonard suffers him. So we accept him as sufferable. And so it takes this amazing piece of performance from Johnny Galecki to take the person that could put up with that. So, I don’t think we’re in danger of that because the characters don’t work in isolation, they work in balance.”
What else makes The Big Bang Theory work? It taps into a geek culture, the one that’s been underground for so long that it’s actually mainstream now. Those endless discussions among friends twisting “what if” scenarios about The Flash or The Green Lantern or the never ending theoretical studies of Star Trek is not counter-cultural anymore. Thanks to online social networking it’s become a daily part of life for many. When four grown geniuses in a TV show are into it too, suddenly we’re not so ridiculous.
“I think that these guys don’t change much,” said Simon Helberg. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. They’ve figured out everything to a T and when they stray, they kind of get pulled back in. So, I think we’re going to see them constantly try to break a little from their habits, or from my mother, from being heavily immersed in video games, but they always come back and that’s where they’re comfortable.”
The writers are all self-professed geeks as well so no discussion is sacred. “I’m gonna say that there are a couple of other writers that are bigger comic book guys than me,” said Prady, one of those self-professed geeks. “They did a curriculum for me so I could catch up. But you cannot touch me on Star Trek , my friend. Original series, Next Generation, Voyager, can’t touch me.”