July 17, 2014 2:29pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Scorpion' Producer Embraces 'Big Bang Theory' Comparison
Producers behind CBS' genius drama Scorpion are fine with being called the drama version of ratings and Emmy juggernaut The Big Bang Theory.
Scorpion is inspired by the life of Walter O'Brien — whose 197 IQ is the fourth-highest ever recorded — and how he became a real-life Professor X. It centers on an eccentric genius (played by Elyes Gabel) and his international network of super-geniuses who form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age. Smash's Katharine McPhee co-stars as Paige, a waitress with a genius child who befriends Gabel's Walter and serves as an emotional translator to his team.
Executive producer Nick Santora (Prison Break) says the series started with a breakfast with Walter that turned into an eight-hour meeting after he learned of Walter's troubles with emotionally connecting to others. It's a common thread on CBS' mega-hit The Big Bang Theory, in which Jim Parsons' Sheldon slowly is evolving to connect with others, including girlfriend Amy.
"Any comparisons to Big Bang Theory, we'll all take it — and we'll take their ratings," he told THR after Thursday's Scorpion panel at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour. "In both shows, there are groups of geniuses who might not necessarily fit in to all of society and they are dealing with people in their lives who are non-geniuses and they are trying to find their way. In that sense, there's a very clear parallel between both shows. I think Big Bang Theory is a great show. If our show can mimic some of the organic humor that comes out of being different because of heightened intellect, then we're doing our job."
Other similarities include the romantic relationship between Gabel's Walter and McPhee's Paige, which, like the relationship of Big Bang Theory's Sheldon and Amy — and to a certain extent, Leonard and Penny's — also will be a slow burn.
"We don't want to rush anything, either," he said of the comparison to Big Bang's pairings. "That works for them; I hope it works for us. I think the worst thing we could do is have these two characters kiss any time soon. That's a mistake and it's not going to happen."
He stressed the key difference between the two shows is Scorpion's action sequences — Fast and the Furious' Justin Lin is an executive producer and directed the pilot — and labeled the show a "fun-cedural."
"I think our show has to be a touch more grounded; [Big Bang is] really going for a more straight-ahead comedic element, though they do get the emotion very well on that show. The best thing for us to take out of Big Bang Theory is, let's try to make a show even remotely as successful as that show and we'll be in good shape."
Scorpion debuts Monday, Sept. 22, at 9 p.m., following back-to-back episodes of The Big Bang Theory on CBS.