TV critics attending TCA were eager to ask Chuck Lorre, king of multi-cam comedies, why he was doing CBS’ Young Sheldon, the spinoff of his multi-cam hit The Big Bang Theory, as a single cam.
“It’s more intimate, the pacing is different, and the actors aren’t having to hold for laughs” and are “not playing to the proscenium,” Lorre began.
A multi-cam cast is “playing to the audience; it changes the tone and pitch,” Lorre said, telling TV critics nothing they didn’t already know.
“I also knew we were going to be working with a cast of young children, including one in the starring role,” which distinguishes it from Lorre’s other comedy series. “It is a more appropriate way for them to do their best work – in a closed setting,” Lorre said, more to the point.
The role of young Sheldon is extremely challenging, Lorre noted. In the mothership series, “the character of Sheldon can be despicable. He is so difficult and hard on his best friends. And yet somehow … the audience forgives him. But take those same qualities and ask a 9-year-old to bring that – it’s a brat,” Lorre said.
“That’s not something that’s very pleasant. So we made the decision early on, [EP/co-creator] Steve [Molaro] and I, to enter his life when he is very naive. He has not yet become cynical and overly controlling. He has his idiosyncrasies, but is much more vulnerable as we enter, in 1989.”
And, Molaro added, Jim Parsons, who plays adult Sheldon in the mothership series, is narrating the series, so he can “take those lines and jokes that he can get away with” and viewers have come to love and expect of the franchise.
Lorre admits he’s “a nervous wreck” starting up what is his first single-camera comedy series. “It’s an entirely different animal, and the working process is very different. It’s much slower,” he said.
In the time it took them to shoot the pilot’s dinner scene, “we could have shot two episodes [of Big Bang] in front of an audience,” Molaro marveled.
In March, CBS closed a deal for a straight-to-series order for Young Sheldon for the 2017-18 season, created by Big Bang co-creator/executive producer Lorre and executive produce/showrunner Molaro. The series follows Sheldon Cooper, played by Iain Armitage, living with his family in East Texas and attending high school at age 9.
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