Copyright © 2014 by Ralph F. Couey
I discovered the hit television comedy "The Big Bang Theory" later than most. But once found, it became must-see television. The premise, for any of you who may have been under a rock for the last few years, is a group of three scientists and an engineer, hard-core geeks all, who work at an analog for Cal Tech. Leonard is an experimental physicist, Sheldon a theoretical physicist, Raj, a particle astrophysicist from India, and Howard the engineer, and lately, astronaut, incidentally the only non-PhD in the group except for Penny. Sheldon and Leonard share an apartment across the hall from Penny, an aspiring actress. Howard lives with his mother, a prototypical Jewish mom, and Raj lives alone. Much of the humor derives from the collision between Penny's world and the science fiction and comic book-dominated universe shared by the four guys. As the show has matured, Sheldon acquired a girlfriend, Amy, a neurobiologist (played by real-life PhD Mayim Bialik), and Howard married a microbiologist, Bernadette. Raj, however, remains without a regular girl after a long series of disastrous dates.
For someone who grew up on science fiction, notably Star Trek, Star Wars, Lost in Space, et al, this was a series made in heaven. The writing is always good, if esoteric, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I "get" the sci-fi references. I also understand the characters, which may or not be disturbing.
The show has intersected with real life icons such as Neil Degrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawking, comic book legend Stan Lee, Bill Nye the Science Guy, astronaut Mike Massimino, Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff, and Star Trek actors Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton, LeVar Burton, and George Takei adding to the joy of the legion of dedicated fans. Leonard Nimoy has lent his inestimable talents as well. For some time, fans have dreamed and schemed of a way to bring William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself to the show. I have an idea I'd like to share.
The plot involves mixing art and reality. Katy Cuoco has been appearing in commercials with Shatner for Priceline, the discount planes-trains-automobiles-hotels website. In this plot, Penny comes home to announce with great glee that she has landed a national commercial. Through the shooting of the spots, she becomes good friends with her co-star, who she knows only as "Bill," and invites him to the gang's regular Friday Chinese foodfest. Sheldon, who abhors change, throws a fit about adding a person, an unknown, to the group. In the days leading up to the dinner, Penny, Sheldon, and Leonard clash about the invited guest. Penny, of course, having absolutely no clue about anything geek, let alone Star Trek, doesn't realize that she's invited the iconic Captain Kirk to dinner. On the night of, Sheldon continues to resist, saying at one point, "I'm a scientist, engaged in the pursuit of the secrets of the Universe. I have no time to spend an evening with some old guy named "Bill."
Then from the doorway, that familiar voice booms, "That's "Mr. Shatner" to you."
The reactions of the four guys is predictably hilarious, and I leave the remainder of that scene to the writers.
Campy? Yes. Kinda-sorta dumb? Maybe. But at least it gets Shatner in the show.
I didn't bother sending this idea to Messrs Lorre and Prady, as I've discovered from previous bitter experience, folks in that business generally do not like to get ideas from outside their circle. I'm sure there are potential legal and intellectual property issues involved, but it's still a shame that lawyers can stand between two people and an idea. Oh well...
I haven't been a fan of series television, particularly sitcoms for many years. Moonlighting, with Sybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis, was a wild ride of rapid-fire humor and creative use of the fourth wall. One of my favorite episodes of any show was the sendup they did on Taming of the Shrew. That same bang-bang approach to humor drew me to Gilmore Girls. But Big Bang always seems funny and fresh, and a veritable reservoir of creative ideas.
But even the best shows run out of ideas and storylines, and go stale after a number of years. The cast members get tired of their character and want to branch out. Or perhaps the audience, always so fickle, may just drift away, and Big Bang, like so many other series, will quietly fade away. When that happens to this show and this cast, I, for one, will mourn the loss.
But what a ride!