Posted: Monday, September 25, 2017 – 10:52 AM
The comedies “Young Sheldon” and “Me, Myself and I” premiere on CBS Monday evening, the first night of the 2017-18 prime-time television season.
“Young Sheldon,” the prequel to “The Big Bang Theory,” airs at 8:30 p.m. and stars Iain Armitage as 9-year old science and mathematics genius Sheldon Cooper growing up in East Texas in 1989.
“There’s more to it than just how he adapts to the world,” co-creator Chuck Lorre told City News Service. “It’s how the world has to adapt around him.
He’s not going to change. He’s very specific in his needs and wants and his goals. What’s fascinating as a writer is how family members have to change themselves and their own lives in order for the family to function.”
Said co-creator Steven Molaro: “I don’t think it is always fun. If you’re his twin sister or his older brother you’d like to have your own life and you’d like to start freshman year of high school without having your brilliant little brother in the same class as you saying embarrassing things. It can take its toll and that’s something we’re interested in digging in on those characters.”
Jim Parsons, who has won four outstanding lead actor in a comedy series Emmys for his portrayal of Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory,” is the narrator of “Young Sheldon” and an executive producer.
Lorre has acknowledged the show’s connection to another series about a boy growing up in the past that used a narrator, the 1989-93 ABC comedy “The Wonder Years.”
“We absolutely discussed `Wonder Years’ when we were writing,” Lorre said. “I never worked with narration before and narration changes the way you write. We looked for inspiration to shows that used it beautifully. Nobody did it better than `Wonder Years.”‘
A key difference between “Young Sheldon” and other Lorre-produced series is that it will not be filmed in front of a studio audience with multiple cameras.
Producing a single-camera series is “an entirely different animal,” Lorre said last month at CBS’ portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
“The working process is very different,” Lorre said. “It’s much slower.”
Lorre said he opted for a single-camera series because “with a cast of young children it seemed like the more appropriate way for them to get the best work was in a closed setting.”
The process of casting Armitage, who played the son of Shailene Woodley’s character in the HBO miniseries “Big Little Lies,” began with a video of him shot by his mother with a cellphone that was sent to Lorre by Nikki Valko and Ken Miller, casting directors on “The Big Bang Theory” and such other Lorre-produced series as “Two and a Half Men,” “Dharma & Greg” and “Mom.”
“We laughed,” Lorre said. “We looked at it and went, `Oh my God. We can’t possibly be this lucky.’ He was just spectacular. If we don’t find an actor of Iain’s caliber, we don’t proceed. There’s no show.”
The cast also includes Zoe Perry as Sheldon’s mother, Lance Barber as his father, Raegan Revord as his sister, Montana Jordan as his brother and Annie Potts as his grandmother.
Perry’s mother Laurie Metcalf portrays the adult Cooper’s mother on “The Big Bang Theory.”
“When she came in to read for the part of Mary we were flabbergasted,” said Lorre, who said he has known Perry since she was 5 years old when her mother was part of the cast of the Lorre-produced ABC comedy “Roseanne.”
“This is beyond good luck to have an actress who is of this caliber and has clearly mastered her craft but also has the sensibilities that we’ve come to see Laurie do for years on `Big Bang.”‘
Perry said she re-watched all of her mother’s “The Big Bang Theory” episodes “because I just wanted to be sure that I was in the same ballpark as her.”
The second episode of “Young Sheldon” will air Nov. 2, in its usual 8:30 p.m. Thursday time slot, following “The Big Bang Theory.”
“Me, Myself and I,” which airs at 9:30 p.m., is about “one man’s journey over a 50-year span,” told from each character’s present experiences, creator Dan Kopelman told City News Service.
It stars “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Bobby Moynihan as the modern- day 40-year-old Alex Riley, five-time Emmy-winner John Larroquette as 65-year- old Riley in 2042, and Jack Dylan Grazer as 14-year-old Riley in 1991.
“Me, Myself and I,” is for viewers “looking for shows that have humanity in them and aren’t just people making jokes, people being trite and people being cynical,” said Kopelman, who was a producer on the Fox comedy “Malcolm in the Middle” and the ABC musical comedy “Galavant.”
“People are looking for grounded, emotional, real human stories in a sitcom form and that’s what the show is.”
Kopelman said he got the idea for the series from reading “a lot of biographies” and watching “a lot of documentaries.”
“As a sitcom writer, you don’t really get to examine that kind of scope in a show,” Kopelman said. “I said to myself `Why not try it with this one? Why not just sort of think a little bit big?”‘
CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl said he decided to put “Me, Myself and I,” on the fall schedule because of its “interesting concept,” Moynihan’s following from his “Saturday Night Live” days and his feeling that viewers can relate to it.
“Me, Myself and I,” has been called “one of the best new fall shows” by the Parents Television Council, which describes itself as a nonpartisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment.
“There is genuine humor on this program, but it arises naturally from the circumstances,” Christopher Gildemeister, the council’s head of research operations, wrote.
“Nobody tells sex or fart jokes, and no laugh track brays intrusively. `Me, Myself & I’ is that rarest of programs — a comedy that’s actually funny, and which is genuinely sweet without being sappy. It’s a perfect program for families to watch together.”