The nerds are taking over the world! Or at least your TV. The ratings smash "The Big Bang Theory" has had an impressive and unique six-season run (and counting), only growing in popularity as time has gone on. It's currently this season's most-watched program for adults ages 18 through 34. The series, which focuses on a group of brainiac overachievers and their love interests, cleverly mixes nerd-culture references with lowbrow humor -- which has netted it a wider audience. It's thriving in syndication, as well. The Chuck Lorre brainchild has been nominated for numerous Emmy Awards and Golden Globes, scoring actor Jim Parsons (who plays Sheldon Cooper) two Emmy wins and a Golden Globe.
Parsons and the rest of the cast -- Kaley Cuoco (Penny), Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz), Kunal Nayyar (Raj Koothrappali), Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler), Melissa Rauch (Bernadette Rostenkowski) -- gathered at PaleyFest 2013 to answer questions about their hit series and dish on the future of the show. Also on the panel were creator and Executive Producer Chuck Lorre, creator and Executive Producer Bill Prady, and Executive Producer Steven Molaro. Moderating the event was none other than "NCIS" geek extraordinaire Pauley Perrette.
1. How the heck did this show concept come to be?
Perrette asked Prady and Lorre how a comedy series focused on physicists came to be -- and how they knew it would be hilarious.
It all began, Lorre said, after watching "A Beautiful Mind" and wondering if it could be a musical. Then, Prady swept in, talking about these fascinating yet troubled guys he worked with back in the '80s world of computer programming.
At the same time, Lorre was lingering on a "Mary Tyler Moore"-esque concept of a young woman moving to the big city to start her life. And then, bam! "What if these guys met this girl?" Lorre asked. And that's how "Big Bang" was born.
But why aren't they all computer programmers? Lorre was bent on making sure that these nerds weren't in the commerce world of computers, which led their thoughts toward science.
2. "Call Me Maybe" flash mob was Cuoco's dream.
The "Big Bang" crew knows how to have fun on set -- particularly with Cuoco at the helm. It had been a dream of hers for some time to do a flash mob on set, so she called her dancer-choreographer sister, who was able to create the dance in just 30 minutes. Cuoco told the cast, “Guess what? You're all doing it with me." They practiced during one of the crew's long lunches, and bazinga! They walked back onto the living room set after the show had wrapped and nailed it! Particularly Galecki, who had a solo that involved him spinning on his butt.
3. Are Amy and Sheldon ever gonna get it on?
Prady, Lorre, and Molaro all confirmed that moving Sheldon and Amy's physical relationship along is, in fact, discussed a lot in the writers' room. "It's something we're continuously wrestling with, because we're fascinated with their relationship and want to see it grow," Lorre said. But it was Parsons’s joke that cracked up the audience: "We can’t wait to rehearse!" Unfortunately, the execs weren't ready to hint at any official plans one way or the other.
4. Amy's girl crush on Penny
Parsons teased that it was something Bialik brought to the role. But officially, Molaro said that the girl crush didn't start off in the writers' room, but somewhere around the episode when the gang went to the convention and Amy called Penny her bestie. It began and then "spiraled rapidly out of control," Molaro joked.
Prady thinks that Amy's girl crush is a result of her delayed adolescence, which kick-started when she met these characters -- and, unlike Sheldon, she's game to see what the world has to offer.
5. The roots of "bazinga"!
The origins of the show's catchphrase are probably not as exciting as fans had hoped. According to Prady, "bazinga" was Molaro’s word for "gotcha!" In the early days, Molaro would pull a gag on Prady involving a hollowed-out grapefruit that Prady was planning to eat. When he realized it was empty, Molaro would yell, "Bazinga!" And the rest is history.
6. How long will "The Big Bang Theory" last?
Parsons fielded an audience question about the longevity of the show. The longtime fan said that he thinks that the current season is the best yet and that the story has really hit its stride. Since next season is the end of the show's three-year extension, the fan asked if they plan to go out on top and if next season will be the last.
Parsons said that they'd be very upset if next season was their last, but he deferred to the writers, who are the ones keeping things fresh and hilarious. The overall vibe was that this ratings hit was going to continue, and given Lorre's other projects (such as "Two and a Half Men"), he's not one to pull the plug if a show's doing well.
7. The Raj-Howard bromance
A Twitter question asked Helberg and Nayyar about their favorite bromance moments. "On or off camera?" Helberg joked. For Raj, the best moment was when they kissed into opposite ends of a device, which Helberg admitted left him feeling violated. "I transcended trying to keep a straight face. I lost track of what my job was and why people wanted to watch that." The friendship is real, though! As Nayyar put it, "[Simon] is the only person I can walk up to and say, 'I'm going to kill you,' and walk away, and we'll still be friends." Also, all the "backyard" and "parking in the rear" jokes are favorites of both actors.
8. "There was some redness."
The infamous spanking scene between Sheldon and Amy was intended to just be heard off-camera, but by the end of taping, it was decided that it would happen onscreen. Parsons found it so entertaining that he was mad at himself for not controlling his amusement. Also, joked Parsons, Bialik was incredibly game for the scene, in which, Bialik responded, "there was some redness."
9. Howard in space
Was Howard really in space?! Well, obviously not, but it did look convincing. How did they do it? Helberg said that he sat on a bicycle seat essentially adhered to a seesaw. The seesaw was lifted and pulled by some burly dude, and the rest of it was Helberg's physical moments. Parsons gave him props for his amazing antigravity physical moments.
Was there a green screen? There wasn't! They had a space station set built.
10. Where did the heart come from?
A Twitter question asked about the recent uptick in heartfelt moments on the show and whether it was a function of the show having been on for six seasons. But apparently, it was more because Prady needed some time off! Molaro took over the running of the show in Season 6, and Prady raved about Molaro’s storytelling and what he's done for the depth of the show: "[Steve] has been sitting since Episode 1 with stories he's wanted to tell about the deeper relationships between and among these characters, and now in Season 6, he's had a chance to tell them, and I think it's the right time." Cutest moment: Molaro blushed!
"The Big Bang Theory" airs Thursdays at 8 PM on CBS.