Young Sheldon showrunner on THAT Easter egg in Thursday's premiere
At the end of the episode that focused on Sheldon (Iain Armitage) and his sister Missy (Raegan Revord) graduating from their respective schools, the voice of Amy (Mayim Bialik) can be heard talking to an adult Sheldon (Jim Parsons) — a first for the TBBT spin-off. We also learn the name of their first child: It's Leonard! (Sorry, Leonard Hofstadter, you don't appear to be the inspiration).
EW spoke to showrunner Steve Molaro about the special moment, and what to expect from the comedy now that Sheldon is headed to college.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So this is what you've been planning? This is the year Sheldon goes to college?
STEVE MOLARO: He will start college. We had to start writing this season before we even knew when production would start [because of the pandemic shutdown]. We knew he was graduating. We didn't have to have him in college classes, college hallways with students 'cause we didn't know what to expect or if that was even plausible to shoot with the COVID protocols. So for the first five or so episodes, we hang out in the summer — not that they don't leave the house, they certainly do. But we didn't feel we were quite ready to tackle college yet. It starts around episode 6. He's going to the same college where he has been taking classes the last couple of years.
How is the pandemic affecting your production schedule?
At the moment, we've added an extra day to our shooting schedule to make up for the longer turnarounds. With a single camera, you have to turn the cameras and the lights, which is what takes longer because all the crew members can't be doing it at the same time because of social distancing. So everything's going a little slower for the sake of safety.
So how did the idea of using Amy's voice come about?
This episode was intended to be the season 3 finale but then COVID shut down Hollywood. We were in the middle of shooting this as our finale. So the episode before it became the finale, which happened to work quite well. I always wanted to pick up right where we left off. Sheldon graduating is such a temporal moment. Why would we not give viewers that? Even CBS promoted it as the finale you didn't get to see. Amy was not in the original draft from seven months ago, but when we were gearing up to shoot it, the opportunity presented itself. It seemed like a fun and nice way to check in with Sheldon and Amy. I gave Mayim a call and she was happy to do it. It turned out great. We don't talk about it too much, but [the voiceovers are] Sheldon about 10, 11 years in the future.
Were Jim and Mayim together when they taped it?
They were not, they were not, but I mean, I know Jim and Mayim are still certainly friends in the real world.
What can we expect from Sheldon's college years?
Down the line, there's going to be new professors. He's going to have his first philosophy class and ultimately new friends.
Does he get through college fast, as well? Is that in Sheldon's backstory?
We've never said. We always knew he graduated high school at 11 and, uh, it was always vague about college.
How many episodes will you do this season?
We're hearing 19, but we're figuring that out as we go.
This episode was less jokey, more poignant.
The show kind of rolls that way, in general. It's not the most jokey show. Some episodes are more comedy-driven than others but [for this episode] it certainly turned out that way.
Young Sheldon airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.