Long a favorite of Comic-Con crowds, “The Big Bang Theory” made it to the big time last year, with a Hall H panel. On Friday, “TBBT” was back in Ballroom 20, which was probably a function of what was initially described as an actor-free Inside The Big Bang Theory Writers’ Room panel.
As the start of an epic day of Ballroom 20 programming, even without the prospect of stars, “Big Bang Theory” produced a loud and enthusiastic room. And, of course, the panel wasn’t truly star-free. Melissa Rauch did a fine job of moderating and she was joined by one of her fellow actors early in the panel.
I didn’t live-blog this one, but here are some things I learned:
*** Stephen Hawking will record your Comic-Con intro video if you ask nicely. Hawking, a former “Big Bang Theory” guest star and frequently name-checked icon, appeared via video and apologized, “Sorry I couldn’t be there. I got a flat tire.” He went on to explain the Big Bang Theory by reciting the show’s theme song.
*** The bounty hunter that Prince Leia disguises herself as at the beginning of “Return of the Jedi” is named “Boushh.” I suspect I probably knew this 30 years ago, but I don’t anymore. Boushh came into play when he came up to ask a question about how the actors are like their characters. After the writers agreed that Johnny Galecki is a handful, Boushh removed his mask to reveal… JOHNNY GALECKI! Shocking, right? The crowd was pleased, especially when Rauch asked for Boushh’s real identity and he replied, appropriately, “Someone who loves you.” [And yes, as Princess Leia-related costumes go, it’s probably good that this is the one Galecki picked.]
*** There are two reasons why “The Big Bang Theory” has never shot on location at Comic-Con: “There are two problems: One we don’t go into production until August… And then the other problem is that we shoot on a stage and we’re just not very good at filming out in the real world,” Bill Prady told a child named Jonah, who got one of the panel’s most enthusiastic rounds of applause when he said this was his Make-a-Wish wish.
*** Eric Kaplan is my favorite “Big Bang Theory” writer now. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise, since Kaplan’s credits include “Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and Futurama, but he definitely shined on the panel. I especially liked his hilarious sad monologue about being made fun of by the other writers. “This is a show that celebrates the outsider and criticizes the human propensity to shun or make fun of the outsider,” he said, before recounting his mockery for making what Prady calls “artisanal confetti” when he was cutting up paper as a nervous habit to avoid eating. “It has been compared by some — me — to being observed by a monster with 20 eyes.”
*** But Eric Kaplan is a very ambitious D&D player. The extended D&D episode last year was inspired by a D&D campaign with the writing staff featuring Kaplan as a Dungeon Master who staged a multi-universe adventure which hinged on whether or not the players could remember their dreams. “It may be the first use of differential dream remembering as a mechanism in game-play and I’m very proud of that,” he said.
Many more learned things on Page 2…
*** The “Big Bang Theory” versus Geology Wars are about to begin. An early question came from a [Scandinavian?] geology PhD student inquired, “I noticed that more than once, Sheldon picks on us. It’s very funny, but why did you choose us?” To this, Bill Prady replied, “You can admit it. It’s not really a science. It’s a hobby. It’s rock-collecting.” And yes. He was joking. Geez. Thin-skinned much, geology students?
*** The “Big Bang Theory” versus Green Lantern Wars are about to begin. EP Steven Molaro isn’t a fan of Green Lantern, which isn’t necessarily something you want to admit at Comic-Con, even after the Ryan Reynolds dud. What is Molaro’s issue? He doesn’t like that Green Lantern just takes his name from the source of his power. “It’s like if you had all the powers of an iPhone and you call yourself The Battery,” he cracked.
*** Johnny Galecki’s brother came up with Giant Jenga. Remember the super-sized Jenga that the gang played with? Well, apparently the main idea came from Johnny Galecki’s brother. “When you’re the size of my brother and I, it’s a dangerous game… You need to be quick,” Galecki admitted. The game credited prop master Scott London with making the on-air version of Giant Jenga and also with preparing the Chinese food that the characters enjoy eating. The Giant Jenga is now at Molaro’s house.
*** I can’t tell you much about the upcoming season. This was not a panel to give away great details about Season 7. We’ll see Leonard on the ship that he departed for at the end of last season. We’ll see Amy and Bernadette go on a road trip together without Penny.
*** But what about Sheldon & Penny? Will they… you know… DO IT?!? “It is a possibility,” teased Molaro. “I believe Amy will continue to try to get her way. I’m pretty confident saying that,” Molaro added. “It always baffles me how much Amy has gotten Sheldon to move. That’s always amazing,” Prady said.
*** Sheldon and Leonard’s white board changes every episode. “They change it every time. They often are related to what the characters are talking about every week. And there are also some inside jokes for the scientists,” say Dr. David Saltzberg, the show’s science consultant. One week, the board contained the answers to one of his classes’ tests.
*** Many of the show’s nerdiest moments are best on the lives of the writers. Supervising producer Maria Ferrari noted that the moment last scene when Amy attempted to seduce Sheldon by feigning sickness was based on an incident from high school. And when Howard Wolowitz listed his bullies at some point, the names belonged to actual bullies that the writers faced. There was one exception: Jim Reynolds submitted a name of a bully, but then asked to have the name taken out of the show. “He’s a cop who got kicked off the force!” Reynolds explained.
*** Amy’s beloved tiara was Chuck Lorre’s idea. But Molaro was credited with the way that Amy’s enthusiasm was embodied in the episode. In fact, Molaro was credited with all expressions of female enthusiasm on the show.
*** All episodes are written collectively. The writers all sit in a room and write chronologically from “Fade in” on, with a writers’ assistant chronicling everything on a typewriter. Yes, they said a typewriter. I’m not sure if this is actually true, or if Bill Prady’s mind just automatically goes to older technology, rather than laptops.
*** Penny dresses more modestly for a reason. One questioner asked about Kaley Cuoco’s changing wardrobe as the series has progressed, changes that are fairly obvious to anybody who happens to catch early-season repeats on TBS. Prady explained that as Penny has had more success, she has started buying better — and apparently less-revealing — clothing. Will she have more success as the show continues to progress? “I think her career moves at a speed that matches the careers of my friends who are actresses,” Prady said. So Cuoco may be dressing like Mother Theresa by Season 15.