I attended Tuesday night’s taping of the Big Bang Theory series finale and all I got was a lousy NDA! Well, that’s not entirely true. Although I did lend my signature to an ironclad non-disclosure agreement, the fine print of said contract does permit me to share both behind-the-scenes observations and super-vague, spoiler-free teases. So let’s get to it.
1. The first half of the hour-long finale was shot last week. The studio audience screened that before witnessing the live taping of the second half. From the vantage point of this longtime fan, the super-sized farewell was an immensely satisfying, consistently hilarious and, at times, refreshingly dark sendoff.
2. Seconds before cameras rolled on the very first scene, a loud burst of laughter erupted off-camera from the producers and crew, prompting Jim Parsons to deadpan, “The show’s over here.”
3. Audible gasps could be heard from the studio audience when [IDENTITY OF SURPRISE CAMEO REDACTED] turned up in the flesh. Full disclosure: One of them was from yours truly.
4. Several long-running storylines were paid off in ways that felt both organic and surprising.
5. Johnny Galecki was so overcome with emotion following the initial cast introductions that two of the show’s makeup artists had to frantically clear the emotional debris from his face before cameras rolled on the cold open.
6. Big Bang co-creator Chuck Lorre, fighting back tears, banged the clapboard and yelled action on the evening’s final scene (but not the episode’s final scene, which was pre-taped). Speaking of the episode’s closing tag…
7. … it was the only part of the finale held back from the studio audience. Hmm…
8. As chronicled in my soon-to-vanish Instagram stories, a pre-taping reception featured Big Bang-themed cocktails and fortune cookies.
9. Addressing the crowd at one point, a verklempt Kaley Cuoco — whose emotionally overcome family was huddled in the back row of the studio audience — reassured the throng of super-fans that “Big Bang Theory will live on in our hearts for the rest of our lives.”
10. The off-camera group hug that followed the episode’s final group scene — as chronicled in Cuoco’s Instagram feed — broke me. It was one of two times I lost it during the taping. The other came during the final bows when a sobbing Melissa Rauch spotted me in the audience and blew me a kiss. And before you ask YES I AM ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN SHE WAS LOOKING AT ME. (You can’t just let me have that, can you?)
The Big Bang Theory finale is set to air Thursday, May 16 at 8/7c on CBS.