This was the first panel of the day in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center, so, it goes without saying that the audience was pumped and ready. And, to be honest, many of us had a bone to pick with the writers! Just in case you’ve been, like, living under a rock or something and don’t know what I’m referring to, the Season 8 finale episode of The Big Bang Theory, entitled “The Commitment Determination,” was a doozie. The show’s executive producers and writers took us on a hilarious and heartwarming thirty minute journey, toying with our emotions and leaving us with many unanswered questions; Will Sheldon watch The Flash? Will Howard and Bernadette ever kick Stewart out of their house? Will Raj break up with the wants-to-do-it-on-a-grave girl? Will Leonard and Penny make it to Vegas? And, most importantly, “WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THAT RING?!”
And. Guys. Get excited!!! At the 2015 Comic-Con The Big Bang Theory Writers Room panel, they definitely didn’t tell us. BUT! We did learn that the epic ring question will be answered in the first episode of Season 9!
We also learned a lot about how much fun the crew of executive producers and writers have creating The Big Bang Theory. They even shared some of the moments on the show that were inspired by their real lives. It was so much fun to see the writer’s laughing together. They all seem to be good friends who genuinely enjoy working together on a show that they love dearly.
It was awesome.
As the panelists made their way onto the stage, they were met with very warm and enthusiastic applause. Out of the wings came David Saltzberg, Jeremy Howe, Tara Hernandez, Anthony Del Broccolo, Saladin Patterson, Maria Ferrari, Steve Hollard, Jim Reynolds, Eric Kaplan, Dave Goetsch, Bill Prady, Chuck Lorre (queue even louder applause), and Steve Molaro. Everyone got settled in and then, drumroll please, Kunal Nayyar, who plays the hilarious and beloved Raj Koothrappali, came on stage as the panel’s mediator.
The crowd went insane. Whatever you’re imagining right now… It was that level of insanity, times one-hundred.
“Hi! Suuuurprise!” Nayyar called out, waving to the audience. “We are so excited to be here! We love our fans! Our show would be nothing without you!”
He was so kind and humble and we ate him up with a spoon. He went on to do a wonderful job mediating and later on in the panel, while discussing Amy’s fan fiction, Nayyar asked if there was ever going to be any fan fiction written about Raj. The panelists said that only Amy could answer that question. Nayyar nodded, turned his back to the audience, and called backstage, “Hey Mayim! You wanna come out here?!”
Again. The crowd went INSANE!
Mayim Bialik, who plays the quirky and loveable Amy Farrah-Fowler, came out to join the panel.
The entire thing was utterly fantastic.
Read on to hear about all of the amazing highlights from the panel including the infamous (well, at least infamous here at Comic-Con), fan fiction reading between Nayyar and Bialik that was too good to be true.
- The writers discussed how the Back to the Future white board timeline, in which Leonard, Wolowitz, and Sheldon argue over whether or not Biff getting the almanac is realistic, was conceptualized. “What happened was actually on the show,” said Jeremy Howe. “I was Leonard! Steve Holland was Wolowitz!”
- Howe laughed about how the discussion that Leonard, Sheldon, and Wolowitz have over which tense to use (i.e. have, had, have-had) actually came from him trying to figure out what tense should actually be used by the character while they were brainstorming dialogue.
- At that point, Nayyar chimed in: “The best part about that scene was watching Jim, Johnny, and Simon struggle with that all week and me not having to say one thing!”
- Lorre told the audience that the drone episode, in which even Sheldon can’t fix the drone, was inspired by a gift he got for Christmas. Someone gave him a drone and he couldn’t fix it. Lorre joked, “I knew the writers from Two and a Half Men couldn’t fix it… So I brought it to The Big Bang writers…and they couldn’t fix it either.”
Prady laughed and said that some of them are engineers and even they had a hard time.
- They teased that the instructions were unclear and said that they finally had to bring in an expert pilot.
- “He was 17 years old!” Nayyar said. “We’ve had big stars on our show and this guy was the biggest diva. I was like, ‘Great flying skills!’ and he was like, ‘Thanks, bro.’”
- Saltzberg, the show’s Science Consultant, talked about his reaction to learning that he would need to come up with an idea for Leonard and Sheldon’s paper. “The writer’s asked me to come up with a discovery for Sheldon and Leonard and it would have to be a significant discovery,” Saltzberg explained.
- He said that he was pretty excited about the discovery that he had come up with until he learned that Stephen Hawking was going to be reading it. “I had a little bit of a panic attack,” Saltzberg said. He teased that he was concerned and excited that Hawking would either read the script and change his mind about wanting to be a part of the show, or think it was brilliant and want to write a paper on it.
- “I’m still waiting for [Hawking to call about a paper],” Saltzberg joked.
- Nayyar told us that when Stephen Hawking first came to a filming for the first time, it was for an episode in which Wolowitz had to do his famous Hawking impression. Or, as Nayyar called it, “The voice.”
- Nayyar went on to say that, “All of us were doing the scene but we were secretly looking at Stephen Hawking to see how he would respond and he was smiling. He was loving it.”
- “He has a great sense of humor!” Lorre jumped in. He said that he wanted to tell us about the time when he directed the first scene between Sheldon and Hawking. “… There is no weirder moment in your life than when you look at Professor Hawking and say, ‘Action!’”
- The crowd laughed loudly but it was a mixed laugh of shock and, “Ooooohhhh, I can’t believe he said that!”
- But Lorre and Nayyar laughed and assured everyone that Stephen Hawking really does have an awesome sense of humor, implying that he would have enjoyed the joke.
The writer’s discussed their love of The Big Bang Theory fan fiction.
- “We had become aware that there was quite a bit of Big Bang Theory fan fiction out there in the world and one day, in the writer’s room, we looked it up and started reading it,” Molaro said.
- “We kinda got wrapped up in it,” Holland jumped in. He talked about how there was a really sweet story written about what happened to Amy on her prom night that had not been a part of their episode.
- Molaro said that the excitement that Penny and Bernadette show when they go from teasing Amy about the fiction to getting really into the story, is exactly what happened to them in the writer’s room.
- “Is there going to be any Koothrappali fan fiction?” Nayyar asked. “Wouldn’t that be amazing?!” The audience cheered.
- “I think that might be a better question for the woman who plays Amy,” said Molaro. “You wanna ask her?” Nayyar said, turning his back to the audience and calling off stage. “Hey Mayim? You wanna come out here?!” The audience lost their minds.
- Then, we witnessed, what is known around these parts as, Comic-Con magic… Molaro said that he and writers had taken it upon themselves to write a little Amy and Raj fan fiction. He handed them each a script.
- It was clear that Bialik and Nayyar had not been expecting this. They both laughed and met at the microphone to read for us…
Bialik: “Amy looked at Koothrappali, looking at the stars through his telescope. She had always thought of him as a friend. But now, something was different. She spent her life studying the brain but she had a feeling that tonight, this swami of love was going to teach hear about another organ. He looked up from his telescope, met her longing gaze and said…”
Nayyar: “Have you ever read 50 Shades of Grey? I’m about to introduce you to 50 shades of brown.”
Bialik: “Amy replied, ‘That doesn’t make sense. Grey was the main character’s last name. Koothrappali pulled her close and said…”
Nayyar: “That kind of semantic knit-picking is going to get you a spanking.”
Bialik: “Oh my! Then, I have to point out that semantic is the wrong word, you sexy beast from the third world. He whispered in her ear…”
Nayyar: “Forget about Sh-amy… Tonight you and I will be a sweaty, tangled mass of Koothrap-amy.”
Bialik: “In that moment, Amy wondered what she had seen in Koothrappali. She knew who she needed to be with, the sexiest people of all, television sitcom writers.”
- I feel that I can safely say that this reading was, hands down, the greatest moment of the panel for most of us. It was such a fun surprise!
- Nayyar said that when he first started getting scripts, it was all about how many scenes he was in. Now, he said that he just wants to know what is happening when the characters. He said that is a real testament to the writers and how they have made him fall in love with these characters over the years.
- “When you pitch jokes do you do it in character?” Nayyar asked the writers.
- “Of course,” Prady said in a Raj voice. “We need to know how it will sound.” The crowd roared.
- Molaro talked about how when Kevin Smith came on the show his assistant came in and said that Smith had called and asked to bring a friend to set with him.
- Molaro asked which friend he wanted to bring. His assistant said, “I don’t know, someone named, Jay?” Molaro and Bialik said that they “lost their minds!”
- Bialik even said that she tweeted it because she was so excited and was then reprimanded because it was meant to be a surprise.
- Nayyar asked the writers about the Skywalker Ranch ending that never aired. “You wanna discuss the ending that didn’t air?” the writers asked.
- “Yeah, I mean, I’m just reading the stuff from the pages that you guys gave me!” Nayyar said. The audience burst into laughter. So did the writers.
“If you guys don’t see my next season, you’ll know why!” Nayyar smiled.
- The ending that was never used was one in which Sheldon steals a lightsaber from Skywalker Ranch. Lorre said that he couldn’t do that ending, however, because he didn’t feel that Sheldon could ever commit a felony.
- Molano then asked, “What about when Sheldon stole the Indiana Jones map?!” Lorre smiled, “Well, we have to go back and rewrite that!”
- Bialik answered a question from Nayyar about what it is like to kiss Jim Parsons on screen. She said, “Everything that we do is very intimately crafted.”
- Parsons and Bialik are dear friends off stage and she said that it’s important to both of them to talk about these moments between their characters beforehand.
- Bialik talked about how, even though Parsons is a classically trained actor and she is not a trained actor, they are very similar when it comes to their character development.
- “We want to know why the writers make decisions,” she said, adding that she feels that their conversations “add to the complexity of the characters.”
- The Big Bang Theory is working with UCLA to create scholarships for STEM students. Lorre said that they were informed that students were choosing this field of study because of the show. He said that he “never thought people would make life choices based on our show” and that it just felt right to give back. Lorre said that they currently have four-million dollars in a fund and will use it to sponsor twenty scholarships this year. How awesome is that?!
We were shown a short video compilation of some of the “funniest moments” from Season 8. It was a blast. The crowd loved the relive some of their favorite moments which included:
- The guys trying to brainstorm ideas to make their hypothetical comic book store successful and Raj suggesting driving around in a van to pick up children. To which Leonard asks if they plan to use candy to lure the kids into the van. Raj exclaims, “We are now!”
- Bernadette’s pageant videos where she sings Spice Girls like a champ.
- Amy and Sheldon making-out when Sheldon suddenly interrupts the romance to ask if she thinks that he should watch The Flash.
- Bernadette outing Amy for writing “Little House on the Prairie fan fiction.”
- The time that Leonard and Sheldon broke into Skywalker Ranch and got arrested.
- Leonard, Wolowitz, and Sheldon discussing Back to the Future and whether or not Biff getting the almanac is realistic, and which tense is correct when discussing it. (i.e. “never has, never hasn’t, never had have hasn’t!”)
- Raj making Nathan Fillion prove his identity by asking him, “What’s the line from Firefly about your bonnet?”
As the video came to a close, Ballroom 20 was filled with cheers and booming laughter!
Q: A woman walked up to the mic wearing a shirt that read “#coitusiscoming” and Bialik seemed to laugh the hardest.
The woman asked, “When did Sheldon buy the ring and when was he planning to give it to Amy?”
A: They didn’t want to give that away but they did tell us that the “answer will be in the premiere episode of Season 9.” (WOOT WOOT!)
Q: What are we going to learn about Amy?
A: Bialik said, honestly, that she has no idea. “We live these characters week to week. These are the people who know more about the characters than we do,” she said, gesturing to the panel of executive producers and writers all around her.
Q: What is your greatest difficulty when writing and what happens when you face it? What do you do?
A: Molaro shared that the biggest difficulties for him come when he has to write the “big moments” like when Amy and Sheldon said they loved each other for the first time. He said that it’s important that they write well and stay true to the characters. He said that is when “the stress level is the highest.”
Prady discussed how important it was to him to make sure that the character “progression” stays genuine and well planned.
Kaplan explained that the “emotional honesty” of each character is the most important to him.
Q: A very sweet boy thanked them for making his Make-A-Wish dream come true last year. He referenced Back to the Future and asked if other famous movies with be referenced.
A: Hernandez brought up Ghostbusters and let Prady take it away. Prady said that they wanted to do the Ghostbusters episode but the studio wouldn’t give permission.
Prady said that he called Joel Murray, Bill Murray’s brother who he hadn’t spoken to in years and asked him to call Bill on their behalf.
Joel told Prady that his brother is hard to get a hold of but said he would try. Prady said Joel called back within minutes, and said Bill wanted to know the name of the studio executive and her phone number.
“Thirty minutes later,” Prady said, “we had been given permission to use anything we wanted.” The audience cheered.
Q: In the past, nerds have been considered not cool and now the culture has changed. Did Big Bang change the culture or did the culture change make Big Bang popular?
A: Lorre told the young lady, “When we started the show, we didn’t see them as nerds… We wanted to celebrate their brilliance.”
Prady said that the show began with a conversation about real people that he knew. “Real people. Not cartoons… These characters celebrate who they are!”
Bialik stepped in to say that she felt what is beautiful about the show is how it celebrates what it means to be different while also being honest about how difficult that can be. She said that the show illustrates how lonely someone who is considered “different” can feel. She said some of her favorite moments in the show are when Sheldon genuinely doesn’t understand a social interaction or particular emotion. “I love when Sheldon expresses that,” she said. “That is part of the beauty of what our writers do. They show all sides of that.”
Q: Have there been any challenges writing for or playing Raj since he can be a feminine character? (The crowd went wild).
A: “Why are you applauding?!” Nayyar asked the crowd.
Prady gave the best answer when he chimed in with: “People can like girls and musicals! Not a lot of people but some.”
Q: Why does Sheldon hate engineers?
Patterson summed it up beautifully with his comment; “He hates what he doesn’t understand.”
Q: Actors, have you ever pitched a story that you really wanted to see?
A: “I tried to pitch a joke and no one laughed and that was the only time I’ve ever done that,” Nayyar said. “There’s a mutual respect and we really bank on them to do what they do well.”
“I’ve never pitched a thing and would never think to,” said Bialik. “As actors, our job is to take what’s on a piece of paper and make you love it… You think you love your cast. These are the people you love. These are the people who make all of those characters.”
The crowd cheered for the writers and Lorre jumped in and said how “very lucky” they are to have such amazing actors bring their characters to life. He said that they are “very blessed.”
Q: A second darling little boy asked, “I was wondering why you picked Soft Kitty and not any other animal?” (Crowed AWWWED like you wouldn’t believe)
A: “Do you guys wanna sing Soft Kitty?” Nayyar asked.
Of course we did! The panelists and audience followed Nayyar’s lead and sang “Soft Kitty” all the way through. It was hilarious and adorable. Most of the faces around me read, “I can’t believe we’re singing this!” including Bialik who giggled through the song more than anyone.
The song closed to an overwhelming round-of-applause and Nayyar waved to the audience and said, “We love you guys so much! Be safe! We love you!”
The Big Bang Theory returns for Season 9 this fall, Monday nights at 8/7c on CBS. The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Eighth Season will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 15.