The Big Bang Theory has enjoyed a solid run since premiering in 2007. Despite a lukewarm start, critics praised its later seasons, applauding its whip-smart humor, adept cast, and fun, gentle jabs at nerd culture. The ratings, too, have climbed, now nearing triple its original numbers. The series averaged 8.4 total million viewers throughout its first season, but was pulling in a whopping 20.3 million viewers per episode by its ninth.
Now almost two months into season 10, it’s widely cited as one of television’s biggest comedies. According to recent reports, distributor Warner Bros. and home network CBS are expected to begin talks soon about a renewal deal that could extend the show through another two or three seasons.
It seems both parties are also looking to expand Big Bang’s success, as the companies are now eyeing a spinoff series, Variety reported on Monday. Titled Sheldon, the offshoot would serve as a prequel centered, of course, around Sheldon, a socially awkward, slightly neurotic super genius at the heart of Big Bang’s core cast. Jim Parsons, who plays the character in the flagship series, is attached to executive produce alongside creator Chuck Lorre and showrunner Steve Molaro. Co-creator and executive producer Bill Prady will likely board the team as well.
Molaro is reportedly set to pen the script, which will re-examine Sheldon’s life growing up in Texas. There have already been several references to Sheldon’s childhood on Big Bang, including guest spots from his fraternal twin sister Missy (Courtney Henggeler) and devout Christian mother Mary Cooper. Laurie Metcalf earned an Emmy nomination earlier this year for her recurring portrayal of Mary. Sheldon’s alcoholic, absentee father and older brother George have also been mentioned, though they’ve never appeared on the show.
The new series is said to be designed to co-exist with Big Bang. Producers are looking to add Sheldon to the CBS schedule as soon as next season, according to Deadline. While renewing Big Bang will come with a hefty price tag — stars Parsons, Johnny Galecki (Leoanrd) and Kaley Cuoco (Penny) currently make $1 million per episode — the spinoff would act as a less expensive way to capitalize on the franchise.
Still, comedy spinoffs have a hit or miss record. Friends offshoot Joey had a rocky trajectory in the mid 2000s, and was eventually canceled due to poor ratings. On the other hand, Cheers spawned mega-hit Frasier, which had 11 fruitful years on NBC. It will be interesting to see how hungry fans are for more Sheldon, but for now the series is only in the script stage. CBS and Warner Bros. have yet to comment.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursday nights @8pm on CBS.