'Big Bang Theory' Prequel, 'Young Sheldon,' Draws Inspiration From 'The Wonder Years'


Young Sheldon premieres Monday, Sept. 25 at 8:30/7:30c on CBS following the Season 11 premiere of The Big Bang Theory. The show will be narrated by adult Sheldon, a.k.a Jim Parsons and co-stars Zoe Perry as Sheldon's mother - a role which is played by Perry's actual mother, Laurie Metcalf, in BBT. Moreover, CBS has not launched a prime-time series with a female lead character in several seasons.

Molaro co-created and co-wrote Young Sheldon with Big Bang co-creator and executive producer Chuck Lorre. "The pacing is very different, the actors aren't holding for laughs, they're playing to one another".

By nature of being a prequel, Young Sheldon is connected to The Big Bang Theory, but Lorre and executive producer Steven Molaro touched on a couple of specific connections.

The series and Jon Favreau-directed pilot - sweetly sentimental with a splash of melancholy - is about a 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage) growing up in a nuclear family in the east Texas Bible belt circa 1989.

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Over the years on Big Bang Theory, we've heard little snippets about Sheldon's childhood. Lorre, who has previously helmed studio-audience series like Two and a Half Men and Mom, is venturing into the world of single-camera comedy for the first time with the series, looking to critically acclaimed The Wonder Years for guidance. Lorre wanted to get the "best work" he could from the kids, which is easier on a closed set and without an audience.

Though most of the attention of the show is on looking back on what made Sheldon who he is in his adult life, there will be opportunities for the spin-off to affect the The Big Bang Theory. But take those same qualities and ask a 9-year-old to bring that - that's a brat.

Lorre added, "We have a lot of freedom with the backstory". Pressed for details after the panel, producers explained that it would be highly unlikely to see Perry on Big Bang Theory, meaning the Young Sheldon stars probably won't be on the mothership. "I never worked with narration before. People change and grow and develop and things happen over the course of many years, but we don't have to follow the exact timeline", Lorre said. "Everybody in the family is affected by having a child who is remarkable, and they all have to adapt, and their lives have to change in order to accommodate him", said Lorre. And so we looked for inspiration to shows that used it beautifully.

How did Sheldon fall in love with comic books? "We're discussing the ripple effect that the shows can have going forward in time". Both shows move to their regular slots on Thursdays at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively, starting November 2.