Because I go to movies almost every weeknight, I don’t get to watch much series television, so I was late to catch on to “Big Bang Theory.” But once it went into syndication, I had a chance to catch up and I am now a huge fan. I attended the enormous event in Hall H at Comic-Con in July (with Jim Parsons attending via computer screen from New York, where he was appearing in “Harvey” on Broadway) and a Q&A at the TV Guide stage with the show’s creators. When my husband and I had a chance to watch the cast tape an episode, we were thrilled. So last week we found ourselves at Warner Studios, walking by buildings on the lot with signs noting some of the productions that had filmed there — “Casablanca,” “Jezebel” and some not-so-classics — and into one that had in a frame the very napkin signed by Leonard Nimoy that led Dr. Sheldon Cooper to nearly explode with joy.
We watched what appears to be the second or third episode of the new season. It was enormously fun to see the sets that have become so familiar — Penny’s apartment, Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment, the university hallway and cafeteria. And it was pure pleasure to see the cast, who were all impressively talented and professional. We saw a couple of scenes that had been pre-taped (Howard is still in space) and one on a very bare-bones set that appeared to be run just to record the audience reaction and will be re-filmed elsewhere. Each scene was run at least twice, with some retakes to try a new joke (we saw three different versions of one) or correct a mistake. An emcee kept the audience’s energy level up with patter, games, and tricks (and cold pizza), and stars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco climbed up onto the railing to greet us and thank us very graciously for our support. The audience was filled with big fans. A woman from CalTech assured us that she is surrounded by characters like these all the time. And a man was wearing a t-shirt that said in big letters: KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK PENNY KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK PENNY KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK PENNY!
Mayim Bialik, who was recently injured in a car accident, had one arm in a sling and her hand and wrist in a bandage, but when they were filming she took off the sling and they shot around it. It was fascinating to see how many people behind the scenes were involved in each shot and how the actors were able to maintain their focus and stay in character even with all of the distractions and re-shoots and changed lines. When a newcomer appearing for the first time on the show messed up, Kaley was very kind and reassuring: “Don’t worry about it, chicka! We all do it.” But they did not stop to laugh when things went wrong and there was no fooling around. Comedy can be a very serious business. It was a very funny episode and I can’t wait to see it in final form. Many thanks to the cast and crew and everyone at Warner’s for an evening that was enormously exciting and lots of fun. I kinda feel about “Big Bang Theory” like the characters feel about Leonard Nimoy. Bazinga!