'The Big Bang Theory', Batman, First of the Summer Wine, Last of the Summer Wine, Only Fools and Horses, Rock and Chips, Sheldon Cooper, Spider-Man, Star Trek, Star Wars, Superman, The Flash. Prequel, Wonder Woman
Sit Com is a dying form. It doesn’t really work for binge watching and since the glory days of the late 1990s audience numbers are down. So when a network has a sit com that draws they do everything to keep it going as long as possible.
CBS has the hit ‘Big Bang Theory’ but the series is now a decade old and showing it’s age. The once young child men are now middle aged, and the series has lost it’s spark. Even if it holds its own in the ratings. The tenth season is almost certain to be the last. So where do they go from here?
A prequel. Of course. Every comic book fan knows that the origin story is next logical story to tell once the main plot wraps up. CBS have commissioned a series about the teenage years of ‘Big Bang Theory’ breakout character Sheldon Cooper. It’ll be a sort of ‘Wonder Years’ meets ‘Doogie Howser’, following the misadventures of Sheldon.
Like many comic book characters Sheldon’s origin story is muddled. Sometimes he spent years in Heidelberg studying in others the first time he left the US was roommate Leonard’s bachelor party road trip to Mexico. His family never had a TV when he was growing up but every week he watched the ‘Professor Proton Show’ and his dad would sit on the couch and force him to watch Football. In fact continuity is something the writers of ‘Big Bang Theory’ threw out of the window long ago. Even if their characters nit pick everything.
Of all the comic superheroes only Superman’s origin has remained constant, the only change was the eraser of his adoptive grandfather, a Klansman, who taught young Clark the values of America. He vanished after WW2. Wonder Woman’s origin is almost always the same, although the war backdrop is updated to fit the era. While Spider-Man’s story gets updated, the basic premise is the same.
When superheroes are rebooted and a new person takes over the origin story can be tweaked. Normally because the real world science has made the original obsolete. The original Flash Jay Garrick got his powers from breathing heavy water vapour. Basically that would have no effect on a person. Later Flashs get their power from being hit by lightning and knocked into unspecified chemicals.
Of course there have been many prequel movies and tv shows of late. Most of which annoy some people. A teenage Superman appeared in ‘Smallville’ while a cartoon of young Batman ruffled some feathers, or is that fur. The prequel to ‘Star Trek’ ‘Enterprise’ is universally loathed and we al know Dr Cooper’s view of the ‘Star Wars’ prequels. Given this you have to wonder do people actually want to see origin stories, and if not why keep force feeding them to us?
Two British sitcoms have tried the origin series. ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ gave us ‘First of the Summer Wine’ set in the run up to WW2 the series was mixed. Mainstay characters Compo and Clegg were seen interacting with Seymour as young men, although they had never met when he was introduced to the main series just a year before. The show featured Peter Sallis playing the father of his ‘LotSW’ character Norman Clegg, and came to it’s natural conclusion when the boys went off to war.
While ‘Only Fools and Horses’ gave us ‘Rock and Chips’ this was more successful, but due to writer John Sullivan’s death unfinished. Both of these shows were comedy drama and not sitcoms. Both also had as many critics as fans. The change in tone seemed to work to help give the shows a chance of standing on their own two feet.
Of course a series about a child genius growing up in 1980s Texas with an evangelical mother, an alcoholic father, a bully older brother and a promiscuous twin sister might work. Although with none of the original cast and a completely new setting it could be a stinker. Only time will tell.