Five 'Big Bang' Tidbits

Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik in The Big Bang Theory

hide captionThe return of Mayim Bialik and her "specific relationship" with Sheldon was one of the discussion points at this morning's panel discussion with television critics.

Sonja Flemming/CBS

On a quick break, I wanted to bring you a little news from this morning's The Big Bang Theory panel. We'll get into the new shows later. (CBS is giving Big Bang an extra push as it moves into its fourth season and also moves nights — to Thursday.

1. As has already been made public, Mayim Bialik will be back as Sheldon's ... well, it's not clear. Producer Chuck Lorre made a cryptic remark about their having a "specific relationship." But! They also confirmed that Howard's girlfriend Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) will return.

2. Asked about real-life thinkers who have expressed interest in the show (and therefore might, the thinking follows, be possible guests), the producers pointed out that none other than Monkey See favorite Neil DeGrasse Tyson passing along someone else's suggestion that he go on the show. So there's that. (But Tyson was once again blamed for demoting Pluto! So he might need to take that on.)

3. Jim Parsons talked about diving into the ball pit, calling it "the dirtiest thing I've ever done." The cast discussed the fact that he had a film of filth on him following that scene, which led Kaley Cuoco to ask whether he had showered that day.

4. The cast gave maybe the best and most honest response I've ever seen to the question that ALWAYS is asked of casts on great comedies: "How much do you guys improvise?" Instantly and emphatically, they all said basically, "We don't, doesn't happen, nope, not at all, we don't do it." Kunal Nayyar, who plays Raj, specified that when they've been daring enough to suggest things and they're allowed to try them out, they fall painfully flat and never get laughs. Everyone likes to think actors are part-time writers; it's often not true, and this cast is eager to have you know that they are not coming up with the words that come out of their mouths, and the writing is done by the writers.

Same thing happened when Parsons was asked early on whether the knock-knock-knock-"Penny?" trope was his or was in a script. He explained that it came from the writers in a tone of voice that suggested he's always surprised when people don't understand that generally, actors get their funny business from writers.

5. In an adorable moment, Kaley Cuoco was asked about attending Comic-Con, and while it was clear that she found herself a little overwhelmed by it, she also said of the people in the cast that when they go to Comic-Con and meet their fans, "We get extremely touched." Recognizing this gift from the God Of Comedy Setup Lines, Simon Helberg (who plays Howard) chimed in, "Literally."

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