Shades of Sheldon Past

I wasn’t sure this was going to work, this whole go-back-into-Sheldon’s-childhood thing, but after watching the first episode, I’m now convinced this show has potential.

Of course, the scene I wanted to see right up front was the one where young Sheldon is chased up a tree by a chicken. But I guess we’ll have to wait for that little treat until later in the series. Perhaps that scene got stuck in CGI hell. Ever try to render realistic 3D chicken feathers or an angry bird on the attack?

Overall, though, I think the one-camera shooting style works and given the large number of locations, the budget would be too high to do it three-camera in front of a studio audience.

Some of the casting is interesting, too. For instance, Zoe Perry as Sheldon’s mother. She’s the daughter of Laurie Metcalf which gives this show an interesting continuity with The Big Bang Theory. And you can really tell Perry and Metcalf are related when Sheldon’s mom gets angry. Take a close look at her facial expressions and you’ll see what I mean.

And Sheldon’s dad is played by Lance Barber. Remember him as Jimmy Speckerman? That was Leonard’s childhood bully who showed up in Season Five, Episode Eleven to prove that, no matter what, bullies never change. The bastard.

The kid they have playing Sheldon (Iain Armitage) isn’t quite the animatronic I saw in grown-up Sheldon, but if I squint, I can pretend they’re the same creature. Given some of grown-up Sheldon’s outbursts, it’s possible to believe that young Sheldon was better at expressing his emotions and this behavior was sucked out of him by all the bullies he encounter along the way.

And the girl playing his twin sister, Missy (Raegan Rivord) is pretty amazing. She pulls off the same snide attitude we saw in Courtney Henggeler who played Missy all grown up.

The story for this episode worked well. Nothing stood out as a particularly iconic set piece, but that’s fine in a pilot episode. On the other hand, there weren’t any hash scenes (read that as: they took the potato and made a hash of it) and I even picked out some resonances with the original series.

And the final scene is quite touching. I won’t tell you any more about it than that. Go watch this and make up your own mind.

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Although i fear BBT has jumped the shark by now, and i saw this spin-off as a cash grab, i was very pleasantly proven wrong! It was funny and poignant and (I love love love) how it pays respect to the emotions of all the kids in the family. I got a real Wonder Years tone from this. I was all set to dislike Sheldon (like he’d build a rocket in the backyard, it’d explode, and EPA would visit his parents, and everyone would go ‘oh that sheldon’. Roll credits.)

But it really went a great way – no laff track, shot on film (or made to look that way), and we see the kids’ challenges in a realistic way. Nicely done, Mr. Parsons and team.