'The Big Bang Theory' prequel about Sheldon: Jumping the shark?

CBS has given a straight-to-series order for a TV show that will be a prequel about a young Sheldon Cooper from 'The Big Bang Theory' as it reaches 10 years on the air. 

Michael Yarish/CBS/AP
'The Big Bang Theory' stars Jim Parsons.

Viewers will have the opportunity to learn more about breakout “The Big Bang Theory” character Sheldon Cooper, as network CBS has given a series order to a spin-off.

The “Young Sheldon” TV show was given a straight-to-series order for the 2017-2018 season and the program will reportedly star actor Iain Armitage of “Big Little Lies” as the young Sheldon.

The role of Sheldon Cooper was a star-making one for actor Jim Parsons, who will narrate the new show, and has won four Emmy Awards for best actor in a comedy series for his work on “Theory.” The program centers on scientists living in California and their significant others.

“Theory” is one of CBS’s biggest hits and is currently airing its tenth season. But some wonder that with the launch of a sequel, perhaps the original show is nearing the end of its run.

How is the show doing creatively, and are audiences still as big as they once were?

The most recent episode of “Theory,” which aired on March 10, was lower in the ratings than it has been in the past, though the amount of viewers it drew still allowed the program’s network, CBS, to bring in the largest amount of total viewers for the evening (ratings look at viewers 18-54 and then total viewers). The show’s “average audience of 12.99 million … is nothing to sneeze at, but still below its usual haul,” Variety writer Oriana Schwindt noted of the “Theory” ratings for the night. 

It’s a performance that echoes the show’s season premiere in September 2016, when the episode brought in the lowest ratings for a “Theory” season premiere since the second and sixth season, according to TVLine

But as seen by CBS winning the night on March 10, though, these are still great numbers.

The show still has room to grow creatively, suggests Vulture writer Kimberly Potts. She writes that recent episodes that have focused on the character of Raj (Kunal Nayyar) are overdue and could provide stories moving forward.

“Fingers crossed for an uptick in the quality of Raj’s romantic pursuits, especially given those rumors about an imminent two-season renewal for [the show],” Ms. Potts wrote of a February episode about Raj. “With potentially 50 episodes to come (or more!), there will be a need for many more stories, and there will only be so many more roadblocks to the inevitable Sheldon and Amy marriage. Let’s put some of the narrative heavy lifting on Raj’s shoulders. The character has always promised he has the potential to carry it.” 

But Guardian writer Stuart Heritage suggests that the program will be – and should be – over soon partly because the age of the lead actors will soon make the show’s plots tougher to believe. “Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki are both in their 40s, which threatens to topple the premise – goofy young geeks live together and bond over how ill-equipped they are to deal with life – into territory that’s about as creepy as it is depressing,” Mr. Heritage writes. 

Heritage also says the premise of the “Sheldon” spin-off will cause the upcoming show to struggle. “Asking adult viewers to watch a kid aw-shucks his way through an entire series seems a ludicrously big ask,” he wrote.

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