Along with the Starro mask they were handing out at the Mattel booth and the cardboard Galactus helmet that Hasbro distributed, the other iconic image I kept seeing all over the show floor at Comic-Con International was the “Bazinga!" shirt, featuring the character Sheldon’s catchphrase from the CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory."
The character, played by Jim Parsons, has reached legendary status for fanboys and fangirls everywhere, or at least has proved popular enough to warrant his own catch phrase and T-shirt. Heck, even my mom, who could care less about just about everything else happening at Comic-Con, lit up when I mentioned I’d be interviewing the cast of "The Big Bang Theory."
“Oh, I love that show,” she was excited to tell me. “They’re all nerds, and they have a special day they go to the comic store -- Tuesday.”
Wednesday, I thought. Wednesday is new comic day. At least for a little while longer.
“They love comics, just like you!”
Or at least their characters do. Talking to the actors, the only one who mentioned they’re into anything remotely like what you’d find on the floor of Comic-Con was Kaley Cuoco, who plays Penny – she mentioned a past obsession with Harry Potter and said she is reading "The Hobbit."
“I used to be into 'Star Wars' and 'He-Man' and stuff when I was a kid,” said Simon Helberg, who plays Howard, adding that he “geeks out” more about music and books nowadays.
So comics and science fiction may not have been at the forefont of their minds while at the convention, one thing was – what happens next to their characters on the show. Parsons said he’s most excited about revisiting the possibility of “asexual” Sheldon’s relationship with Amy, played by Mayim Bialik ("Blossom").
“I’m very surprised we’re going there,” Parsons said. “I think the writers do such an excellent job in a smart way and a unique way of exploring situations like that. Especially when it comes to Sheldon, I feel like they have never disappointed me. It’s always a pleasure to execute whatever weird road they’re taking.”
He said he feels the writers do a good job of surprising him, to the point where he doesn’t have any concerns about where the character is headed.
“I always used to say I’d love to see Sheldon win a Nobel Prize, but that’s like finding love for most people on most shows,” Parsons said. “That’s the end of the show, that’s the end of the series. Maybe the end of his life … except that he thinks he’s too important to humanity, so he’d keep going.”
Both Johnny Galecki and Cuoco said they were unaware of the direction their characters would go in the new season, which hadn’t started shooting when Comic-Con was going on. May's season finale left Leonard in limbo, standing in the hallway deciding between Penny’s door and Sheldon’s door. Galecki did talk about how far Leonard, his character, has come since the show began.
“Leonard has grown a lot, and the Penny character has given him a lot of confidence,” Galecki said.” I don’t know if he’s applied it, necessarily, but he’s grown quite a bit.”
So which door will he choose? The writers were tight-lipped about that, but they did share some other details about the new season. Expect to see more of the characters’ lives before they knew each other, and expect Penny to have issues with Sheldon’s new girl. During the show’s panel, they also announced a guest appearance from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who will play himself.
As the show enters its fourth season, writer and producer Lee Aronsohn summed up where he thinks the show has gone over the last few years.
“At the beginning, it was kind of like the big bang itself, everything was formless, then we did the pilot, and then another pilot … and kind of changed the focus,” said Lee Aronsohn, writer and producer of the show. “The first season was like coming together in the big bang …the last two years have been the universe taking shape, and it’s been a beautiful thing to watch as the cast has meshed into a finely tuned comic machine.”
The new season premieres Thursday, Sept. 23 on CBS.