Exclusive: How Big Bang Theory Got the OK to Mock Spock – Plus, Boss Reacts to Besting Idol

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CBS’ The Big Bang Theory took aim at two lofty targets this week: J.J. Abrams’ blockbuster Star Trek movie franchise, and American Idol. TVLine spoke with series cocreator Bill Prady about boldly going so far as to tell Spock to “Suck it” and how it felt to play David to reality-TV’s Goliath in the ratings.

The Big Bang Gang Geeks Out Over Their Favorite Moments from 100 Episodes

Bookending Big Bang‘s 100th episode was a scene in which Sheldon receives in the mail a life-size cardboard cut-out of Mr. Spock — except instead of the Leonard Nimoy version he ordered, he was wrongly sent the new, Zachary Quinto incarnation. And as the persnickety geek will do, he was quite verbal with his displeasure. Prady, speaking with us on the red carpet at Saturday night’s Producers Guild Awards, shared the legal trek he braved to make that moment happen:

In order to use that prop, which is a cardboard cutout of Spock [as seen] in the new movie series, you needed three approvals. You needed Paramount [Pictures], and you had to get Zach to approve it and you had to get J.J. Abrams to approve it…. The problem is we wanted to say, “Suck it. Zachary Quinto.” Normally when you send something out [for approval] you send the pages, and we’re going, “Are they going to like this?” So we called Zachary’s agent, we called Paramount, and we call J.J.’s office. I [told them], “We need to, at some point, let Sheldon begin accepting there is a new Spock in the world, and we’re going to have him start by not liking it at all. So if you’re game, and you let us use it, we will begin the process of him coming to grips with Zachary Quinto as Spock.” And we got a message back immediately from Zach and J.J. saying they loved the idea.

Might Quinto have loved the idea enough to one day cameo as himself à la Star Trek: The Next Generation alum Wil Wheaton, who in the Big Bang universe draws similar disapproval from Sheldon? Says Prady: “We would love for all famous people that we like to be on the show. Always.”

Doesn’t Zachary Quinto Have to Guest on Big Bang Theory Now? And More TV Questions!

Turning to the memorable episode’s Nielsen numbersBig Bang this Thursday drew a 5.3 in the coveted 18-to-49 demo, versus Idol‘s 5.2 in primetime’s opening half hour — Prady said, “The job is about going to work and making a really good TV show…. But you do get like a little team pride. It’s a little ‘Detroit Tigers-in-the-World Series,’ you know? You cheer on your team, and what you are really cheering is an amazing fan base that has been coming to the show strong this year, and that’s a really good feeling.”

So, were any high-fives traded at Big Bang HQ? “We did not high-five, because we’re nerds and we don’t do that,” Prady reported. “But I think at one point someone went, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I think there was a soft-spoken, ‘Oh, yeah.’” (Reporting by Paula Carvajal)

Comments (46)

  • I’ve been devoted to Idol from the beginning, but that all came to a screeching halt when it aired against TBBT. The gang from Pasadena trumps Idol. maybe they can work that into the rock, paper, lizard, Spock elimination.

    Comment by Toto – January 22, 2012 07:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stopped watching Idol after they added the dirty old man.

    Comment by beh – January 22, 2012 08:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I don’t let that interfere, just FF through the judges comments after the performances. I don’t need their input to know whether I enjoyed the song.

      Comment by JJ – January 22, 2012 08:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Have you watched The X Factor? The way Simon leered at his group of teenage girls was way, way worse, particularly during the week they performed privately at his house. At least Steven Tyler has an endearing sincerity to his accidental creepiness, whereas Simon was just gross.

      Comment by DL – January 22, 2012 01:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I never watched XFactor because I despise Simon for the way he shredded Siobhan Magnus a few seasons back.

        Comment by Toto – January 22, 2012 01:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Which one, Simon????

      Comment by Lil Jo – January 23, 2012 10:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • there has never been a better comedy for all ages!

      Comment by ray baldassari – September 19, 2013 04:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I can’t stand to watch another season and have JLo & company be so incredibly mean to a singer when she was able to get to third place.

    Comment by Denise@americanhorrorstoryfan – January 22, 2012 08:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I’m not stating this as fact, but the judges saw her being herself off camera. If the TV viewers perceived her as ruthless or worse, maybe the judges saw even more evidence of that. It doesn’t make it right, but enough people saw her on TV, so if she deserves a career she’ll have one. Winning wasn’t necessary for many past runners up to have careers.

      Comment by JJ – January 22, 2012 09:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • The viewers never would have voted her all the way to the top 3 if they felt about her the way you do.

        Comment by Good grief – January 22, 2012 03:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Somebody who works at the show said she was the biggest brat they’ve ever had on the show. She was Very unpleasant to work with and apparently thought she was better than everyone else.

      Comment by Musica1 – January 22, 2012 09:36 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I call total Bullsheet on that. There is no way anyone would ever think or say anything like that about Hailz. No way! For evidence you can watch any post idol interview she has done, starting with Idoloonies. I’m calling you out as just another bitter James fan trying to spread blatant lies.

        Comment by Terry – January 22, 2012 03:36 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I agree with Terry, I don’t believe for a second anyone said that about Haley! I admit I’m biased, I’m a huge fan of hers, but I’ve probably seen every interview she’s done since idol and there is no stuck-up on that girl. None. She is sweet, warm hearted, down to earth, and 100% adorkable.

          Comment by Emma – January 22, 2012 04:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Who are you talking about?

      Comment by Ruby – January 22, 2012 12:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Haley

        Comment by JJ – January 22, 2012 01:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Idol had gotten very hard to watch due to the DIVA factor,

          Normally that meant each season you had one black chick that was the DIVA you could just hate and mock , plus you might have one other singer (Danny G ) being a good example that you just wanted to get hit by a bus.

          But last year , the DIVA mode was pretty horrible

          Haley Reinhart, Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, Pia Toscano, were all pretty horrible.

          The you have the creepy stuff of the show , Karen Rodriguez finding her family given english caption even though they were talking in ENGLISH ! The lap dances for Steven Tyler who may be a wonderful guy but came off sleezy with the girls.

          There were only a few singers that did not make my skin crawl and they were Scott McCreery, Lauren Alaina & Stephano Langone, the balance either were DIVAS or relied to much on their backstory.

          Comment by Joseph – January 22, 2012 03:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Wow, you must have watched a different show than I did.

            Comment by R U kidding me – January 22, 2012 03:40 PM PDT  
  • I am hoping for some real constructive criticism instead of what we witnessed last year. Yes Simon could be caustic and sometimes over the top but frankly welcome to that business and sadly he was right most of the time. I know they do not want to squelch their dreams but if it is real honest criticism than that won’t happen and will ONKY if you dont have what it takes to make it..

    Comment by Rita – January 22, 2012 09:16 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Simon didn’t give honest criticism. He never gave one comment that would help a singer see what he was doing wrong, which is what criticism would do. He hated anything that wasn’t pop. (He hated Carrie Underwood.) He had pat phrases that he would use all the time. He also would praise a person he wanted to push to the end even when they had terrible weeks, and would give bad comments to anybody he wanted to stop, even on their good weeks.

      Comment by Musica1 – January 22, 2012 12:22 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • oopsss ONLY and yes Denise in some part of what you said I agree with. They would criticize her unfairly while NOT doing the same to the others especially Lauren and Scotty..

    Comment by Rita – January 22, 2012 09:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The spock-bit was really funny, loved it

    Comment by E – January 22, 2012 09:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’m love JJ and Zach! That JJ and Zach loved the idea makes me suspect they watch the show, which makes me ridiculously happy for some reason. Geek factor I guess.

    Comment by Ariel – January 22, 2012 10:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How did this funny article about TBBT turn into a bunch of comments about crap like American Idol? Anyway, I’d love to see Zachary Quinto on TBBT!

    Comment by Lindsey – January 22, 2012 10:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Didn’t Levar Burton do walk on too???

    Comment by Thomas – January 22, 2012 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • yes he did. and Brent Spiner (aka Data) has also been on.

      Comment by jj – January 22, 2012 10:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • and they call themselves “nerds”

        Comment by thomas – January 22, 2012 10:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think Leonard or Sheldon invited him to a nerd party and he arrived late or somesuch.

      Comment by shaun – January 22, 2012 10:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Levar got there late and encountered Stuart [in a bath towel] doing karaoke with Zach and Kripke.

        Comment by Toto – January 22, 2012 01:54 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • My husband watches this show much more than I do…. I’m just posting here because I love the Detroit Tigers shout-out in Bill Prady’s answer. Go Tigers! :)

    Comment by Sara – January 22, 2012 10:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think it was hilarious that Zack was trending on twitter during the episode too! I’m glad he accepted to go with it because we got yet another fantastic BBT moment during the episode! Laughed all the way through it!
    And I would be SOOOO excited to see him appear on the show!! I hope they can fit him in it some time!

    Comment by Julie – January 22, 2012 10:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • yeah tigers!

    Comment by emily – January 22, 2012 10:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wil Wheaton is no longer Sheldon’s enemy–they made up and became friends during his latest appearance, and Brent Spiner became the hated member of the Star Trek universe.

    Comment by MelindaB – January 22, 2012 11:34 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • As a real life Trek fan, I have to say this: These guys have to show up at a Star Trek Fan Film shoot. Seriously, if they were real people, they’d be at the Star Trek: Phase II shoot in June in Upstate New York. Sheldon would be dogging the Phase II Spock, who is Zack’s double in the movie. Phase II has had over 100 million views of their internet show. I can’t imagine these guys NOT showing if they were real.

    Comment by Barb – January 22, 2012 11:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Count me as one BBT fan who would love to see Matt Smith or David Tennant show up. Or, more plausibly, Howard could add Karen Gillan to his fantasy list….

    Comment by JayH – January 22, 2012 11:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Would kill for ZQ to show up on TBBT. Match made in heaven.

    Comment by Ruby – January 22, 2012 12:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I think the ultimate would be for the guys to encounter Leonard Nimoy and Wm. Shatner having a meal at The Cheesecake Factory.

      Comment by Toto – January 22, 2012 01:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I big yes to this. I’ve been hoping we’d see a Leonard Nimoy appearance even though he has retired. Big Bang Theory is one of my short list of must watch tv.

        Comment by Sable – January 24, 2012 03:59 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Love big bang!!! It never gets old. We watch all the reruns every day. There is never any good shows on any more. Thanks Big Bang!!!!

    Comment by Karen – January 22, 2012 04:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Seriously, Zachary Quinto is a much better man than me..if I just came out of the closet and someone wanted to use the phrase “Suck it” about me on a national TV show, I’d really have to think about that. I’m hopeful that’s now what the folks at BBT were going for, but as soon as I heard that phrase, that’s what I thought.

    Comment by Bill – January 22, 2012 06:49 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Really? Must people walk on eggshells about everything and worry about everything being offensive? It was a very funny Sheldon comment. Why make more of it? Personally, that didn’t cross my mind at all.

      Comment by Maddie – January 22, 2012 08:03 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I did not think of that at all. Keep in mind which character said it. Sheldon would A)not even realise that Zach came out, B)wouldn’t intentionally make a sexual related put down.

      and given the context of how it was said, there was no reason to think of it sexually.

      Comment by jj – January 23, 2012 12:44 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • When will TBBT have Nate Fillion and the crew from Serenity on the show? Also, what about Cmdr Riker?

    Comment by Jerri – January 23, 2012 12:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I’d love it, but it’s kind of difficult since this is an ABC show and Nathan’s is CBS and Adam Baldwin is NBC. Summer Glau has already been on, but she’s joining Grey’s Anatomy, another ABC show, so she might return. It would be hilarious to see the guys come up against Gina Torres’ Zoe.

      Comment by Sable – January 24, 2012 04:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • poor Sheldon. I’ve had a Leonard Nimoy Spock cardboard cutout for years.


    Comment by TK – January 23, 2012 06:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Reading this article from belgrade just realised that the author could wery well be my cousin.weird stuff

    Comment by Bojan Mitovic – January 23, 2012 09:21 AM PDT  Reply To This Post

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