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CBS has long had a big hit in its hands with The Big Bang Theory, which has been TV's top comedy seemingly since the dawn of time, though it hasn't been that long. The network doubled down on that success by giving the show two more years on the air, as well as a spinoff with the self-describing title Young Sheldon. And after watching the new and extended trailer below, you'll swear that Big Little Lies actor Iain Armitage is really a nine-year-old clone of actor Jim Parsons.
It's almost creepy, isn't it? Iain Armitage is delivering a Saturday Night Live-worthy of Jim Parsons' Sheldon Cooper, and it looks downright effortless. Sheldon's cadence is as methodical as the character's other mental and physical talents, and it's a pretty signature style. But just one "Think, monkey," later, and I would testify in court that some mad scientist had extracted Parsons' life force and injected into the "TV performance" part of Armitage's brain. (Not entirely based on real science.)
It's indeed baffling just how fitting Young Sheldon is for a title, all things considered, but while that central character is mostly the same, just about everything else looks crazy different from The Big Bang Theory. The biggest different, beyond the cast, is definitely the single camera approach, giving the new series a more cinematic feel, as opposed to sets in front of a studio audience. That opening scene at the dinner table, in particular, would have felt like it was in another show entirely had there been laughter accompanying Zoe Perry's Mary plucking Raegan Revord's Missy in the head.
The Big Bang Theory has gotten better and better at drawing the many characters' family members into the fold, but this will be a really interesting look at characters we already know, just in younger capsules. Laurie Metcalf has won awards for her work as Mary Cooper on the flagship sitcom, and Zoe Perry looks to do a solid job of filling those shoes. (She also played Metcalf's younger version on Roseanne back in the day.) Mary perfectly straddles the line of being a loving and caring mother to her slightly-left-of-center son, and being a mother who is just as blunt and matter-of-fact as that same son. Sheldon is not someone who takes kindly to being corrected, so sometimes the booksmart chap just has to get his life lessons from life itself.
The other two members of this highly functional family unit are The Comeback and It's Always Sunny familiar Lance Barber as father George Cooper, Sr., and he looks like he's channeling Dan Lauria's Wonder Years patriarch here. Sheldon's older brother, also named George (and played by Montana Jordan), is rocking the traditional asshat older bro vibe, only with the additional bonus that he's intellectually on the same level as Sheldon. Well, he's not quite as high up as Sheldon, but you get the point. Hopefully he's got more dimensions to him.
All in all, I'm pretty pumped for this. The jokes really land both as TV jokes and as family jokes. The performances are solid and unforced. And there's a legitimate heartstrings-being-tugged value that I really didn't see coming. I'll definitely be watching, and hopefully co-creators Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro have crafted a concept that can last until the point when Sheldon reaches the age he was when Big Bang Theory started. Or not.
Young Sheldon was announced to be hitting CBS' schedule this fall on Monday nights during the NFL season, and it'll then switch to Thursday nights after football is over; in both cases, it will follow The Big Bang Theory. To see everything that's hitting the small screen long before both Sheldons make it to CBS, head to our summer TV schedule.