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

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.

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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.”

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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)