8:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Big Bang Theory': 7 Things to Know About Season 7
Following a sixth season that saw CBS' nerdy comedy The Big Bang Theory reach a creative milestone when Kunal Nayyar's Raj overcame his selective muteness, TV's top scripted comedy among adults 18-49 returns for its seventh year Thursday with back-to-back episodes.
The first episode will find Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) bonding over missing Leonard (Johnny Galecki), who has been at sea on a research mission for Stephen Hawking. Meanwhile, Howard (Simon Helberg) helps Raj mend a broken heart after Lucy (Kate Micucci) opts to end their relationship.
The second installment will feature Leonard's early return creating a rift with Sheldon, while Howard finds himself still navigating his overbearing mother.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Nayyar, Helberg and Galecki to get the scoop on what to expect when the series returns.
1. Just because Raj can now talk to women won't mean he's good at it. "I’m not sure that's a good thing," Nayyar says with a laugh. "He's going to put his foot in his mouth a lot." Raj's goal this season? The same as it has been since season one: to find love.
2. Episode three will see Raj organize a scavenger hunt that will continue what showrunner Steve Molaro previewed would be new pairings in season seven. "They put Leonard and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) together for the first time, which is really fun," Galecki says. "They work horribly together! I hope they use that because we all understand the dynamic of having a best friend with a spouse you might not necessarily get along with."
3. Galecki notes viewers will see a new side to Bernadette during the scavenger hunt. "When it comes to being competitive, Bernadette is a dragon! She's horrible! It was a lot of fun to film," he says.
4. Sheldon and Penny have grown closer -- which could create a problem for Leonard. "They've bonded over missing Sheldon, which is really sweet and wonderful," Galecki notes. "Leonard comes home a bit early and is excited to see Penny, but it takes a while to acclimate to the idea of being around Sheldon again (laughs). There are some complications there."
5. Speaking of Bernadette, she and Howard will experience some growing pains as they continue to navigate marriage. "There's some fighting going on," Helberg warns. "We're getting into the possessive -- she wants her husband and he wants his friends and video games. There's some spats that happen."
6. With Howard and Bernadette bickering, he'll turn to his best friend, Raj, for solace -- which will create a very awkward scenario. "Wolowitz crashes at Raj's a bit after a fight with Bernadette and he's having a hard time kicking the habit of video games and male bonding time to be with his wife," Helberg says of the duo's night together. "There could be some cuddling -- our shirts come off at some point, so we'll see!"
7. Galecki is cautiously optimistic about Leonard's and Penny's future together after he heads off to sea while the lovebirds are at the healthiest point in their relationship. "I don't think things have ever been better for Leonard and Penny," he says with a laugh. "But I'm afraid to even say that out loud!"
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. Hit the comments below with what you're looking forward to seeing.