Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started, wait… well, jump ahead to 2007, when The Big Bang Theory premiered on CBS. Since then, the series has gone from "under-the-radar sitcom" to "hugely popular comedy sensation" and tonight, it airs its 100th episode, a major landmark for any television series.
Last month, members of the show’s cast and crew talked to press at a 100th Episode party, where we spoke to as many nerds and nerd enthusiasts as we could. Here's what they had to say.
TV.com: So, 100 episodes. Did you ever think you’d make it this far?
Simon Helberg: Uh, no. I mean, to be honest, every step of the way is kind of nerve-wracking. And not to say that I never believed in the show, but you just never know—you never know with a pilot, you never know with a writer’s strike. You just try to kind of do an episode at a time. I sort of tried not to count, and then I woke up on Tuesday and realized this is our hundredth episode.
Well, I was going to ask what you’d like to see in the next 100 episodes, but I guess that’s thinking a little bit far ahead.
My guess is that there’s not gonna be too much growth with these characters. I enjoy peeling off a tiny, tiny layer at a time, because these guys are stuck in their ways. I think they’ve found a lovely recipe for how to make good television, and I think they’re gonna keep making it, and keep finding what works and honing it. It’s a great time.
And a wedding, at some point?
Well, that is the plan. I think we’re baby-stepping toward the altar. Bernadette and I are working our way there. We have an interaction with some children in an episode that’s coming up, where she kind of turns into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and kind of becomes a monster around kids, so that brings up some issues about our future. So we’ll see if we ever make it, and if I can cut the umbilical cord from my mother. She’s slowly replacing my mother in terms of that overbearing, punishing force, when she gets angry. And she’s got the voice for it. Howard needs to have a mother figure, and maybe two.
TV.com: When you and Mayim became regulars on the show, it really added another dimension. What kind of influence do you think the women have had?
Melissa Rauch:< Well, I was a fan of the show before I came on the show, and I absolutely loved the characters and the storylines of Penny teaching the guys about life. I think the girls have just kind of opened up a doorway to see different sides of these characters. We get to see Penny now teaching these two girls the knowledge that she’s passed on to the guys. With Howard, it’s been nice to see that he’s really just a hopeless romantic at heart, and really just wants to settle down and have a wife. I think it’s neat that we’ve been able to see the different sides of these characters. Personally, I love playing with the girls. I love Mayim and Kaley, so it’s so fun to do those scenes.
Simon said he wasn’t so sure about this Howard-Bernadette wedding actually happening…
You know, I’m not so sure either! I know that we’re gearing toward it this season, and talking about it a lot. Nothing’s ever been really easy between Bernadette and Howard, so I don’t know if they’ll actually make it down they aisle. They very well could, but they very well could not. I don’t know.
If you had to look ahead to possibly the next 100 episodes, what would you like to see happen to Bernadette?
Oh my goodness. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure whatever direction the writers take her in will be fantastic. I really love the dark side to Bernadette, so I look forward to seeing what other layers we can uncover. I’m always so thrilled and surprised when we find out Bernadette is a little darker than meets the eye.
TV.com: What has it been like for you being a later addition to the show, and how were you welcomed into the environment?
Mayim Bialik: It’s good. It’s kind of a mixed blessing to come into a show that already has its feet under it. It didn’t need me, but I’m glad to be able to add to it whatever I can. Basically I didn’t have to work as hard to get this big party!
But adding these strong female characters has really helped the series develop. I mean, how have you seen it change?
It’s great. I think it’s a really nice new aspect to the show, but I think it also allows a new angle of Kaley Cuoco’s character to come through. And she’s already so beloved, but it gives us another way to understand her, and I think that’s really fun.
The characters on this show don’t generally change much, but we do keep learning more about Amy. Is there more that you’d like to see uncovered, maybe more that she’s holding back?
I don’t know. There’s a lot of the same, and I think that’s good. As far as I can tell, Chuck Lorre knows what’s up. So there’s a lot of the same, and there’s different aspects to her that we will see, and that’s going to challenge Sheldon for how much he can take of this.
TV.com: Where do you find the inspiration for playing such an obnoxious character?
John Ross Bowie: He is loosely based on a guy I went to high school with, actually, who was really aggressive and kind of nasty and used to hit on women and had a horrible, crippling speech impediment. He had a lisp, and he would get drunk and hit on girls and say things like, “Don’t rethitht me,” and had absolutely all the confidence in the world. And I thought he was fascinating. His name was Aaron—I don’t remember his last name, and I probably wouldn’t say it if I did. I use a lot of Aaron for Kripke and it helps a lot.
What has it been like being on the show on and off over time, and seeing how it’s grown?
It’s been really interesting, actually. One of the coolest things is to watch how Kaley’s character has kind of grown, and how they realized that Penny didn’t have to be a dingbat. She could just be normal. She could just sort of be the stand-in for the audience, and they’ve really dimensionalized her character over the past couple of years. And she’s really risen to it, I think. That’s been kind of fun to watch. And then just, the incredible shading that Johnny and Jim are able to find in those characters, where they’re not just nerds. They’ve got a bunch of different sides and tones to them. Watching the performances blossom, I think, has been the most exciting part.
What are your hopes for appearing in the next 100 episodes—lots of Kripke or just a little bit of Kripke?
You know, once or twice a season is actually fine—especially if you ask my detractors on the internet. I think it’s nice to kind of pop in once in a while, be abusive, break out the speech impediment, and then be on my way. One never wants to overstay one’s welcome.
TV.com: It took a while for audiences to really discover The Big Bang Theory. How do you think the show finally found those viewers?
Bill Prady: You know, I think one of the things is, people looked at it as a show about smart guys and scientists. But I think what people connected with is that feeling of being an outsider, and I think it’s a common human experience. I think people found the ability to connect with that, and maybe that’s why they’ve connected with the characters.
How much do you have planned out for the future of the show?
We’re in the middle of writing number 101 right now, so...
So, any idea where you’d like to see the characters go, or the plot?
You know, one of the things that’s been very exciting is just sort of following the characters where they want to go, and not making a big overarching plan. It’s given us the freedom to explore storylines as they come up, and I think we’ll keep doing it that way.
Can you talk about expanding the original cast?
Well, we found two amazing actresses in Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik. When we found those characters and they connected so well to the cast and the stories, we said, “Well, they’ll be back.”
TV.com: I wanted to talk a little about your experience watching the show find its audience. How has that been for you?
Chuck Lorre: Surprising. I mean, I’m grateful that people have made it a personal experience, and it became very obvious [when we went] to Comic-Con four years ago, the response was so overwhelmingly warm and affectionate and enthusiastic. I think that’s when it dawned on us that people cared about the show.
Would you say the fan base for The Big Bang Theory is unique in some way? Are these fans different from fans of your other shows?
It’s a good question, because I don’t linger on websites, but I think this has a lot more interactivity than the other shows. That’d be my guess.
Bill Prady mentioned that you don’t have much planned out for the future. Is there anything you’d like to see, or do you just want to let the show go where it goes?
The plan is we have no plan. We love the characters. We try and protect them, and put them in situations that reveal more about them, but in a way that feels right and feels natural. That’s it!
The Big Bang Theory airs its 100th episode, "The Recombination Hypothesis," at 8:30pm tonight on CBS.