"We spent our sperm money on tandori chicken."
June 11, 2010 2:21 PM   Subscribe

The unaired pilot of The Big Bang Theory has surfaced on YouTube. Coming off like an episode of the series from an alternate universe, this first stab at the show gives us a more inept Leonard, a sexual Sheldon, and two female leads that wouldn't carry over to the finished product: Katie (a wild party girl who makes stupid choices) and Gilda (a fellow nerd who has her analytical eyes on Leonard). [Part 2 | Part 3]

Wikipedia notes "The show was not picked up, but the creators were given an opportunity to revise the show, bringing in the remaining leading cast and retooling the show to its current format. The original unaired pilot has never been released on any official format, but copies of it are floating around the internet with various collectors. On the evolution of the show, Lorre bluntly admitted "We did the 'Big Bang Pilot' about two and a half years ago, and it sucked... but there were two remarkable things that worked perfectly, and that was Johnny and Jim. We rewrote the thing entirely, and then we were blessed with Kaley and Simon and Kunal." As to whether the world will ever see that original pilot, maybe on a DVD, Lorre said "Wow that would be something, we will see. Show your failures...""
posted by Servo5678 (71 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Show your failures...

Hey, Two and a Half Men is on air, isn't it?
posted by kmz at 2:24 PM on June 11, 2010 [8 favorites]


Well at least they got to reuse their sassy black receptionist idea.
posted by cashman at 2:37 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay. I'll admit it. I love Sheldon. I have him on a t-shirt saying Bazinga! I never miss the show.

Go ahead, make fun of me.
posted by Splunge at 2:39 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look guys, I know that when you are part of a somewhat "outsider" group and you don't see representative examples of you and your peers positively portrayed in the popular media, it can be tempting to get on board with any halfway decent attempt that gets made. But that show is pretty bad.

20 years ago, I could understand the geek community taking to it out of lack of other options, but nowadays I'm bewildered that this weak sitcom gets so much geek cred.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 2:42 PM on June 11, 2010 [23 favorites]


Listen carefully to the video game sound effects in this scene and I think you'll understand the geek cred respect.
posted by Servo5678 at 2:46 PM on June 11, 2010


I admit, I'm totally watching this show for the Raj/ Wolowitz 'shippy. I need a Very Special Episode about their unspoken love.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:52 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


That was terrible. I enjoy the show, but I'd've never watched it if they'd gone with the original format.
posted by jedicus at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2010


I do agree with Senor Cardgage, but unfortunately weak sitcom tends to be an oxymoron; so compared to the rest I'm okay with Big Bang Theory.

I watch it mostly for the shirts; so I notice a lack of costuming in the pilot as well.
posted by Edward L at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2010


weak sitcom tends to be an oxymoron

Come again?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:56 PM on June 11, 2010


A thousand times yes, Senor Cardgage. To me the BBT geeks are only a little bit better than Screech or Urkel.

It hurts me that Chuck Lorre's shows run for years and years and Better Off Ted barely hung on for two. I will cut somebody at ABC if we don't get a second season DVD for BoT.

(Even with its somewhat uneven last season, HIMYM stands head and shoulders above the rest of CBS's Monday lineup.)
posted by kmz at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


>> weak sitcom tends to be an oxymoron

> Come again?

I think he meant "redundant".
posted by mrnutty at 2:59 PM on June 11, 2010


I agree that the nerd stereotypes are *way* over the top, but perhaps that's a bit of it's charm. And from what I can tell, they're being true to the source material. I mean, they're not just making up science-y words to have them same, for example. So points there.

But the real hidden gem of that show, and what makes it worth watching, is Sheldon.
posted by mrnutty at 3:04 PM on June 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know that when you are part of a somewhat "outsider" group and you don't see representative examples of you and your peers positively portrayed in the popular media, it can be tempting to get on board with any halfway decent attempt that gets made.

Thanks for presuming to know why I watch the show. Except, I don't care at all that it happens to be about a couple of nerdy physicists, and in fact I find the gratuitous placement of equations on endless whiteboards in the background to be pandering and annoying. I don't connect in the slightest to scenes where they play video games or go to the comic book shop, because I don't do either of those.

I watch the show for one reason: they've managed to create dynamic characters that are funny. Yes, it means having to put up with the horrid multiple camera format, but in the spectrum of awful sitcoms there are countless shows that are much, much worse.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:06 PM on June 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oo. I can't wait to watch. It reminds me of the Star Trek pilot, where Spock was smiling, cracking jokes, and slapping everyone's ass on the bridge. I'm glad they finally decided that Sheldon is Spock.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:07 PM on June 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's an odd beastie. The original pilot was both more normal and less appealing.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:10 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The aired pilot was pretty terrible too—Penny's dialogue and character was entirely passive. Bringing Penny up to a point where she actually made choices from time to time didn't take too long, though, and then when she and Sheldon butt heads? AWESOME.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:11 PM on June 11, 2010


Speaking of unaired pilots, a couple of links for any Buffy fans who might be reading.

Buffy Unaired Pilot/Network Pitch, featuring a very different Willow and really really bad vampire dying effects. Also a different Hey It's That Guy playing the principal.

Buffy Animated Series Presentation, a brief glimpse at one of the potential spinoffs.
posted by kmz at 3:16 PM on June 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of conflicted about The Big Bang Theory. I know it's not the best show on television, or even close to it. Intellectually, I know that it's not even very good. But, you know what? I still end up watching it every week, and, for those 22 minutes, I am genuinely enjoying myself. Maybe part of it is completely superficial. I like it when they start talking about the Golden Age Green Lantern's ineffectiveness against wood, or when Sheldon starts quoting Wrath of Khan. I'm deriving pleasure from, in Greg Nog's words, "surface-level recognition of pop-cultural things I enjoy." I know this, and I know it while I'm watching the show, and sometimes I'm disappointed in myself for falling prey to some Pavlovian "$GEEKREFERENCE = happy" trap. But, dammit, I still enjoy the show, in spite of myself. It's weird.

Pretty much everything I said above can also be applied to Smallville. Yes, I watch Smallville. I know, I know.
posted by maqsarian at 3:25 PM on June 11, 2010 [10 favorites]


Also a different Hey It's That Guy playing the principal.

Tobolowsky!
posted by maqsarian at 3:29 PM on June 11, 2010


That's not just any Hey It's That Guy, that's Stephen Tobolowsky, the King of Hey It's That Guys.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:31 PM on June 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm watching this now and not entirely minding it, but I haven't watched more than a handful of episodes of BBT.

I find the chick in BBT kind of annoying (again, have only watched, like, three episodes, so it might not be a fair assessment). I don't find the chick in this all that annoying yet.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:33 PM on June 11, 2010


Take it back. Got to the inevitable part of the sitcom narrative where the two girls are being total bitches to one another.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:37 PM on June 11, 2010


Tobolowsky!
posted by maqsarian at 4:29 PM on June 11 [+] [!]


Bing!

That's not just any Hey It's That Guy, that's Stephen Tobolowsky, the King of Hey It's That Guys.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:31 PM on June 11 [+] [!]


Bing, again! I sure as heckfire remember that guy.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:45 PM on June 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hey It's That Guy playing the principal.



Ned... Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"? C'mon, buddy. Case Western High. I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! ...got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn't graduate? Bing, again. I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:48 PM on June 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Okay, if we're going to do a Ned Ryerson thing, someone may as well post the video. Bing!
posted by maqsarian at 3:54 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome. Thanks for posting this. :)

I find the gratuitous placement of equations on endless whiteboards in the background to be pandering and annoying.

Interestingly enough, they're supplied by David Saltzberg, a particle physicist at the University of California. Here's his blog about the show.

The New York Times discussed the show's reception by some in the scientific community back in April.
posted by zarq at 3:56 PM on June 11, 2010


*knock knock knock*
"Penny."

posted by zarq at 4:09 PM on June 11, 2010


I watch the show for one reason: they've managed to create dynamic characters that are funny



*knock knock knock*
"Penny."




I stand corrected.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 4:11 PM on June 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


This pilot made me realize that one of the things I love about this show is the theme song. It seems like there was a FPP about it, but I can't find it now.

I also love how much brighter the show is when compared to this pilot. Costumes, living spaces - I particularly love the bright colors used in Sheldon's and Wolowitz's costuming.
posted by jeoc at 4:20 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Go Canada!
posted by chunking express at 4:22 PM on June 11, 2010


This pilot made me realize that one of the things I love about this show is the theme song. It seems like there was a FPP about it, but I can't find it now.

I don't remember one.

I posted a link once to the alternative "drawing" video, but that comment would probably be impossible to locate now.
posted by zarq at 4:23 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


SeƱor Cardage, also this. :)
posted by zarq at 4:25 PM on June 11, 2010


I like Big Bang Theory OK. I think it tries a little hard but it does get some things right. And I do like Sheldon -- how he's grown and developed and he's not quite a cartoon character (and as an aside, I saw a photo of Jim Parsons at some premiere/party thing and I was shocked at how cute he is when he's not playing Sheldon). BBT does rely too much on standard sitcom tropes, but there's always something that makes me laugh.

The unaired pilot's weird. In some ways, I like both Leonard and Sheldon a little bit more -- they're more normal and probably more realistic (I like Johnny Galecki and think he's a pretty good actor but I do feel like he doesn't know quite how to balance out Leonard's awkwardness. But I think he's getting better). The two female characters were a little too obvious, though, and maybe they would've grown (I mean, Penny has) but I didn't find the actresses appealing. Kaley Cuoco at least has found a good middle ground for Penny -- I actually believe she'd be hanging out with those guys.

In any case, an interesting way to waste a half-hour. Thanks.
posted by darksong at 4:25 PM on June 11, 2010


I don't remember one.
I'm, like, 90% sure there was a FPP about the theme song and how the Barenaked Ladies did an original version that was more stripped down and acoustic and the producers were, like, nice! But the Barenaked Ladies were, like, just wait - we're taking this sombitch to awesome! And they did and it was.
posted by jeoc at 4:31 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I watched the final pilot when it aired, my basic reaction was "Crap, Chuck Lorre strikes again." But after almost two years on the air, I broke down and tried it again and saw a quantum improvement.

But the one thing about the show that appealed to my inner lover of inside jokes was the names of the two lead characters: Sheldon and Leonard. Because Sheldon Leonard was an actor stereotyped into gangster characters who became a TV producer and one of the people behind "The Dick Van Dyke Show", "The Andy Griffith Show", "I Spy" and "My World and Welcome To It" (the sitcom based on James Thurber that was surprisingly excellent and unsurprisingly short-lived). A reference no science/sci-fi/gaming/nerdy-stuff geek would care about but which a TV geek like me had to love.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:47 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


a sexual Sheldon ?

Well, that's a whole nother Big Bang Theory. Get Lady Gaga in on the action and you got the makings of a high concept litcrit pomo porno.
posted by y2karl at 4:48 PM on June 11, 2010


In isolation the knocking gag is not the slightest bit funny. It only works if you watch the show regularly because it's a running gag that just grew out of nothing into a thing, and that's why it's funny.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:49 PM on June 11, 2010 [5 favorites]




>>> weak sitcom tends to be an oxymoron

>> Come again?

> I think he meant "redundant".


I think tautology more suitable. (Yes, I know I'm late to that party.)
posted by NailsTheCat at 5:08 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, that's a whole nother Big Bang Theory. Get Lady Gaga in on the action and you got the makings of a high concept litcrit pomo porno.

No Gaga high concept litcrit postmodernity, but: Big Bang Theory porno (as SFW as any YouTube porn trailer).
posted by maqsarian at 5:16 PM on June 11, 2010


I like BBT a lot, we've just started watching this year but have gone back and start catching up on the first two seasons on Netflix. It's not great art or anything but they get a lot of the geek details right and it's always funny.
posted by octothorpe at 5:18 PM on June 11, 2010


You people really overthink a simple show with geeky jokes that makes me smile when I see myself in those characters.
posted by Talez at 5:47 PM on June 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


God that laugh track sounds louddddddddddddd.
posted by haveanicesummer at 5:56 PM on June 11, 2010


dear lord I have not yet watched this sexual sheldon. I discovered the insane world of fanfic when googling for others who might also want a penny/sheldon ship.

I knew fanfic existed, but I had never sought it out.

I really just wanted to pretend to be the girl in any sheldon ship.

also, I now use the word ship in ways that do not mean vessels on water. Thanks chuck lorre.

(yes yes I want ships - also don't think that Ianto coming back would ruin anything on a certain other show. He and the capt were absolutely adorable...just realized that I may have just been discussing the remedy to that problem...going to find torchslash...)
posted by sio42 at 6:20 PM on June 11, 2010


In isolation the knocking gag is not the slightest bit funny. It only works if you watch the show regularly because it's a running gag that just grew out of nothing into a thing, and that's why it's funny.

The only worse way to ruin a joke than explaining why it's funny is explaining why it isn't funny.
posted by mannequito at 6:35 PM on June 11, 2010


Bookhouse, you can watch Jim Parsons get 99% of the way through Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock about three times on the blooper reel (starts at 1 min)

haveanicesummer, if you watch the blooper reels, you can tell that the audience is plenty loud all by itself (and not just because they're screwing up).

I have to say, I started watching BBT when it premiered and I had the same reaction as a lot of people who don't like it: caricatures, not funny, etc. But enough people asked me to give it a second chance that I sat down with the Season One DVDs and just powered through on the promise that it would get better, and it really did. Sure, it's still a sit-com, but it's pretty funny all in all, and Jim Parsons (Sheldon) is some sort of bizarre comedy genius. The part of Sheldon could so easily suck for every possible reason, but he never fails to deliver a line in the funniest possible way.

Bazinga Ball Pit (with extra footage at the end)!
posted by tzikeh at 6:48 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


God that laugh track sounds louddddddddddddd

Real people tend to be loud.

That's right. The Big Bang Theory has a studio audience. You can get tickets to it once the show resumes production in a month or two.
posted by Talez at 6:59 PM on June 11, 2010


tandoori
posted by unliteral at 7:37 PM on June 11, 2010


I discovered the insane world of fanfic when googling for others who might also want a penny/sheldon ship.

I knew fanfic existed, but I had never sought it out.


I know it exists as well and I don't go seeking it out on purpose.

I don't know the existance of fanfic annoys me so much when I hear about it. It might be the concatonation of names similar to tabloid romances and the non-sensical abreviations like "ship". It might also be that it feels like a show's creators sometimes actually start listening to some of the fandom and make incredibly stupid fan-servicey decisions. I hate it when this happens to a show I enjoy. The fan-service part could be my imagination though and the creators could have just run out of steam and made bad television independantly.

So far, The Big Bang Theory hasn't gone there and I'm glad.
posted by ODiV at 7:38 PM on June 11, 2010


Whoops, missed a "why" after "I don't know".
posted by ODiV at 7:39 PM on June 11, 2010


I haven't seen Season 3 yet, but I can say that I live with a more attractive, slightly more socially ept version of Sheldon. Honest to G-d, Sheldon has said things that I've heard before coming out of 'moonMan's mouth. At least 'moonMan doesn't have a "spot" on the couch.

I'd heard about the alternative pilot ideas in the DVD extras, but I don't know if I can actually watch it... I'm wicked excited about any BBT FPP, but I just don't know if I can open the box...

(And in the actual pilot, Sheldon is way more sexual than he ever is in the rest of Season 1. He's referred to as a "semi-pro" at jacking off.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:42 PM on June 11, 2010


Oh man. Opened the box. The cat is dead.

Sheldon's buttocks obsession is believable. Their apartment is not. The only character worse than Katie is Gilda. Also: their apartment. So glad they changed the set.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:04 PM on June 11, 2010


Also: their apartment. So glad they changed the set.
Yes. That was good.
posted by jeoc at 8:17 PM on June 11, 2010


I love BBT and part of it is the geek recognition thing and part is that my brother in law is very Sheldon-like. My husband? Very Leonard like. Hell, I'm Leonard like. There's a much deeper recognition of the roles and stereotypes and quirks than with any other TV show I've ever watched. Plus I like in jokes.

On top of that, my daughter loves the intro and now does a goofy little baby dance to it. What's not to love.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:18 PM on June 11, 2010


oh wow...just watched it all. i see why it didn't make it as a show first time around. little too dirtyprettything, little too real.

i actually liked that way more than the show, but i can see how it would be hard to write for a larger audience.

i guess you need tropes and stereotypes for a show to work on tv.

i've had some wine this evening. someone sent me a memail about a still-living ianto based on an earlier comment. (looking forward to the promised reading list!)

i didn't really like gilda, but i think she could have been worked into something a bit more realistic. she was a bit too sheldon-like to really work i think.

someone bring me a holodeck so i can make my own tv shows and have the fireflybangtorchlost i really want to happen.
posted by sio42 at 8:44 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


BBT initially seemed too LOLnerd for me but my DVR would keep catching the end bumper of before showing How I Met Your Mother. It wasn't until I saw Penny's Christmas gift to Sheldon in season two when I became curious and gave the show a second chance.

It's not the funniest show nor the most respectful, but the dialogue somehow rings a little true, either in the geekiness or the snark at it.
posted by zix at 9:38 PM on June 11, 2010


Listen carefully to the video game sound effects in this scene and I think you'll understand the geek cred respect

What the hell? A sound guy did his job like he was supposed to and it's somehow amazing?
posted by scrowdid at 9:59 PM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


zix: Penny's Christmas gift to Sheldon is probably in my top ten list of funniest tv show moments. There's something both hilarious and touching about the entire thing, and it's played perfectly. Many of those lines are quoted among my friends, often with no provocation, and in reference to nothing at all.
posted by tzikeh at 10:44 PM on June 11, 2010


What the hell? A sound guy did his job like he was supposed to and it's somehow amazing?

Most shows would throw in Pac-Man sound effects (because he's playing a vidyagame, see) and call it a day. The effects here actually match Mario 64.
posted by Servo5678 at 3:53 AM on June 12, 2010


Also a different Hey It's That Guy playing the principal.

No, that's Sammy. He just can't remember he's playing the part of a principal for more than a few minutes.
posted by hal9k at 4:46 AM on June 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am still impressed that they have had the wisdom to not overdo the "soft kitty" lullaby but use it about once a season. Last time that it happened on the show you could actually hear the audience do a collective "ohmygawd, we're going to hear Soft Kitty" gasp.
posted by Ber at 6:53 AM on June 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


huh, since i don't have cable, i've never actually seen this show, but now I know why people keep calling me Sheldon.

Better than Napoleon, so that's something....
posted by empath at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2010


since i don't have cable, i've never actually seen this show

It's on CBS.

posted by maqsarian at 12:42 PM on June 12, 2010


i also don't have an antenna. Only TV I watch, i get from itunes or hulu.
posted by empath at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2010


Ah.
posted by maqsarian at 1:02 PM on June 12, 2010




Splunge, are you sure about that? I just looked at cbs.com, and couldn't find anything longer than 1:30 clips.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:14 PM on June 12, 2010


Splunge, are you sure about that? I just looked at cbs.com, and couldn't find anything longer than 1:30 clips.

My bad. Both Hulu and the site that I posted said "watch at CBS.com" so I didn't check CBS.

Sorry.
posted by Splunge at 2:24 PM on June 12, 2010


Seasons 1 & 2 are on DVD and available on Netflix.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:25 PM on June 12, 2010


I posted a link once to the alternative "drawing" video, but that comment would probably be impossible to locate now.

That's great, and has a crazy low number of views for being on the official CBS account.
posted by smackfu at 1:48 PM on June 14, 2010


That's great, and has a crazy low number of views for being on the official CBS account.

I don't understand why, either. It's very cool.

I would love to see them replace the original theme with it for a single episode. :)
posted by zarq at 2:01 PM on June 14, 2010


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