CCI: "The Big Bang Theory"

Adam Savage, of "Mythbusters" fame, moderated a talkative "Big Bang Theory" panel at Friday's Comic-Con International in San Diego. Present were executive producers and writers Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, along with the entire "Big Bang Theory" cast of Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar.

Compiled specially for the CCI audience, Savage introduced a series of clips of particular interest to panel attendees. Rife with pop culture sci-fi references, the clips included:

  • Light sabers used as a light source
  • The impact of an extra eight seconds of "Blade Runner"
  • The "Terminator" time travel paradox and problem with a petite hot seventeen year old kinky robot being created by a computer
  • If Sheldon were a robot would he want to know and would he be bound by Asimov's robotics' rules
  • An original "Battlestar Galactica" flight suit is a uniform and not a costume
  • Kneeling before "Zod" and the physical impossibility of Superman catching a falling Lois Lane without breaking her into bits
  • Star Trek
  • Playing "World of Warcraft" for 97 hours straight to obtain a single item
  • How nerdy folk roll in the Shire

Though the initial series of video clips seem to please the crowd well enough, Savage then introduced a second video portraying a hand-drawn animated music video set to an extended theme song for the show, to even louder applause.

With all this nerdtastic goodness on display, Savage opted to quiz the panel regarding their personal knowledge of geeky facts. Regardless of the question, the only man able (or willing) to raise his hand in answer to each question was producer Bill Prady, revealing himself to be the font of nerd knowledge behind the show.

And they do check the science facts behind the show, said Prady. "On the boards, there is a posted equation and physicists freeze framed the equation on the board...and they get emails all the time on whether or not they have gotten something wrong."

Regarding the chemistry between the cast members, the entire panel agreed it was good. Parsons said "Yes, we hang out all the time. We spend a lot of time together." Cuoco agreed "We really do."

Nayyar spoke about his character's inability to speak to women on the show up until a recent episode, and laughed, "Yes, it's a relief to speak on the show to women. I really can't speak to women - it's like art imitating life imitating art."

Do people perceive the cast as smarter, now that they've done the show? Nayyar nodded "Unfortunately yes. [However,] we're just as dumb as we were before."

But they have learned some science-stuff from the show. Parsons explained "I've learned that a glass of ice water does not go up in temperature until the last bit of ice is gone," to which Savage responded "Mmm, sounds like a 'Mythbusters' question..."

The entire panel then attempted to answer the question of what was the nerdiest thing about them in real life.

Parsons glared over at Nayyar "I hear you play badminton?'" to which Nayyar sheepishly responded "Yeah...I heard American football is a really cool sport. Yeah, I played Badminton back in my home country. I was pretty good."

Galecki laughed, saying "I had this really long ducktail in the 80s, and I kept it in a bag. I still have it, and it's still growing!"

Cuoco had some trouble thinking of nerdy things at first, but eventually smiled and said "I'm, like, awesome at ping pong..."

Parsons had equal trouble answering, but because his list was too long rather than too short. "I do a lot of things that I feel geeky/nerdy about. Like I really enjoy talk radio as opposed to music, I like to go to bed really early, but that's because I am a child rather than geeky. The timber of my voice is really geeky...but it got me this job."

Galecki was able to top Parsons, saying "I grew up doing theater, which might be cool on the coast but not in Chicago middle school. Much of elementary school, I showed up wearing fedoras and such. That hurt. I think because I loved action figures, 'Star Wars,' later all the 'GI Joes.' Anything I could create stories with. Later, I was a huge fan of 'Elfquest.'"

Prady sighed, "Oh we don't have time. I will say that I was 24 before I ever asked a woman out. Later, I was in computer programming before I did this. A lot of this was based on people I knew back then. I knew a fellow who couldn't speak when a woman came in the room."

Lorre had a similar background, stating "Well, there are the thousands of hours in a basement as a child putting together monster models, but I think it was the glue. Elmer's glue...good stuff."

On the evolution of the show, Savage asked about an original unaired pilot. Lorre bluntly admitted "We did the 'Big Bang Pilot' about two and a half years ago, and it sucked...but there were two remarkable things that worked perfectly, and that was Johnny and Jim. We rewrote the thing entirely, and then we were blessed with Kaley and Simon and Kunal."

As to whether the world will every see that original pilot, maybe on a DVD, Lorre said "Wow that would be something, we will see. Show your failures..."

Savage turned to Parsons to talk about the peculiar nature of his character Sheldon, saying "I want to talk to you about Aspergers Syndrome...your opinion..."

Parsons replied "I don't know that it's informed, it...I think almost implicitly informed by what's on the page week to week. I've played a couple of different characters in life that can be strung together with sort of the Aspergers Syndrome symptoms. A lot of it is that sort of naivete and sort of not knowing what to say, not knowing what would be appropriate. We've talked about it, I asked, I had heard of it and I didn't really know anything at all. 'This is the way he is,' that's how we deal with Sheldon. I got to reading 'Look Me In The Eye' and said, 'you should read this, it's Sheldon's biography!'"

Turning to Galecki and his character's relationship to the Sheldon character, Savage asked "You guys seem to trade back straight man funny man role. You're the one that seems to have the emotional connection. How does that inform the was you play our scenes."

"I was surprised when Sheldon even knew Leonard's birthday," Galecki responded. "I think it's when Penny arrives is when things become complicated and things like caring starts to arise. As far as the comedy, obviously it first starts on the page."

Speaking of the Penny character, Savaged asked Cuoco if her character is aware of how she is affecting the guys. "I think she knows she affects them. A lot, with her and Sheldon. She doesn't get him, and he doesn't get her, but she has a genuine affection for them."

Jokingly handing the same question over to Helberg, he replied "Yeah, I think he just doesn't know the word no. Ignorance is bliss and talking to a girl is scoring in some way for him. He'll just talk to as many girls as he ca, thus scoring as many times as he can."

Lorre laughed and revealed that the literary character Helberg's role was based on is Pepe Le Pu.

Prady added "I knew this guy who was good with women, and he had two rules for women - proposition every woman, and have no standards."

Asked how Cuoco transitioned from her role on the show "Charmed" to this role, she said "'Charmed' was just...quite different. Very different. I played a witch. I'm not a witch on this show..."

To which Parsons interrupted, in his Sheldon voice "Well...'" evoking laughter from the audience and a retort from Cuoco. "I knew you were going to do that!"

When discussing the season finale and the developing relationship between Galecki and Cuoco's characters, Lorre replied "It seemed like a natural progression to end the season, for Johnny's character to step up and say lets do this. Well, it's not going to go well."

Regarding their CCI experience, Galecki said "I accepted an invitation of Evan Dorkin to Comic-Con during the "Roseanne" years...and these guys are crazy. I've been on tour with Irish rock bands before, and those guys have nothing on that crew!"

The panel was asked to define the Doppler effect, and true to his character, only Parsons was willing to take on the answer. "It's like if - this will be a little sloppy - it's like if an ambulance is coming down the street...[sound effects]...it changes tone, but it didn't really. It's the same siren - I told you it would be sloppy. Between that and the ice story, I have a whole other conference going here!"

When asked about the character development in season two, Lorre said "We love these characters. Nothing major is going to happen to change the series. From the very beginning, I think from Bill and I, we were never writing about geeks and nerds, we were writing about remarkable people. We can label whatever we want, but they are incredible."

On the potential for the Sheldon character to find love, Parsons said "I think that Sheldon would. I'm guessing Sheldon will end up dating whoever hits him over the head and makes him understand. It's funny, the Leslie thing, the animosity they had in that physics bowl, I thought 'Well, this could turn another way.'"

Prady added "Sarah is coming back for a bunch of episodes'" to a round of applause.

Back to science questions, Prady was asked about Pluto no longer being considered a planet. "It's hard to say what our writers room is like, but if you just took the people in your row in this room, it would be the same! When the Pluto thing happened, one of the writers said "This is completely Jank'" and we decided if it does ever come up, this is very distressing to Sheldon, because Sheldon does not like change. We spent a lot of time talking about it."

Asked how similar each actor thinks their costars are to their characters, Nayyar smiled and said "Jim Parsons is quite close to Sheldon'" to which Parsons responded over the laughter "Hey, I'm here, I can hear you!"

Cuoco jumped in to add "Kunal hasn't talked to me yet - and Simon hasn't stopped [talking to me]."

Galecki wanted to stress that, like his character, "I am sensitive too'" to which Prady concluded "This is a freakishly nice group of people."

Lorre wrapped things up with a quick "From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for coming and watching the show."

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