Though The Big Bang Theory has its share of detractors who love to hate it, you can't deny that the Chuck Lorre created a laugher - about a quartet of intellectuals (or nerds... I guess) and their significant others - that has earned the right to be called a juggernaut for CBS; now the network is showing its appreciation with a nearly unprecedented commitment of three more seasons for the show. Those seasons will cover The Big Bang Theory into its 10th season, but will that be it for Dr. Sheldon Cooper and company?
No one has publicly commented on if this deal is meant to be a bridge into the syndication filled hereafter for the show - with ratings up 4% this year and the show pulling in nearly 20 million viewers per episode for CBS, it's easy to imagine the comedy series continuing on for quite a bit longer.
How long is too long, though? The practical answer is that The Big Bang Theory will go on for as long as it makes sense for the principals - the network, the creatives, and the stars - but the track record for live-action comedies after their seventh and eight seasons isn't exactly confidence-inspiring - and the desire to say "enough" on the creative side can be strong.
Legacies matter more to the ones who are being judged for the quality - not just the success - of these shows and The Big Bang Theory has a legacy of consistency that needs to be respected and, at this point, admired and protected. Yes, Chuck Lorre is in the empire business over at CBS where he is king of the comedy castle, overseeing Mike and Molly, Mom, and Two and Half Men as well as Big Bang, but despite all of those other projects, Lorre's "brand" would be damaged if the show ran itself into the ground.
The same thing can be said for the actors, particularly the show's leads: Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki. Both have taken on other work occasionally, but while security and a booming bank account mean a lot, years of success can free an actor to want to do more than just hiatus side-work. It can make them want to see how green the grass is elsewhere because few actors want to spend their entire lives playing a character or trying to not play that character over and over again.
The counter-argument to that thought is Two and a Half Men with regard to Lorre and whether he'd want to push Big Bang past its natural expiration (whenever that is). That show isn't what it used to be in the halcyon and headache days of Charlie Sheen's residency, but it's comparatively brilliant when you judge it against the field. Is that level of "mediocrity plus" something to aspire to?
It really depends on what Lorre, producer Steven Molaro, Parsons, Galecki, and the rest of the cast are comfortable with, what their motives are, and whether they still believe in the project. For right now, though, we know that Big Bang Theory isn't going anywhere anytime soon - and that's good news, for both the show's fans and love-to-haters alike.
The Big Bang Theory airs on CBS @8PM ET