7:12pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Comic-Con 2012: 'The Big Bang Theory': Bumpy Road Ahead for Leonard and Penny
The lovable geeks on CBS' The Big Bang Theory will be facing some major hurdles in its upcoming sixth season: Howard being bullied in space, Raj without a wingman and some tough times ahead for star-crossed lovers Leonard and Penny.
While the cast and creators were relatively tight-lipped about what next season would look like during its Comic-Con session in Hall H on Friday, The Hollywood Reporter got the early scoop immediately afterward in the press room following the panel.
How long will Howard (Simon Helberg) be in space? Where will he and his new bride Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) live? Can Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) recover from his impromptu marriage proposal? And will Raj (Kunal Nayyar) ever find love? Plus what's next for Amy (Mayim Bialik) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons)? Here's a few teasers of what to expect in Season 6.
Howard and Bernadette
Astronaut Howard "Fruit Loops" Wolowitz will spend the first few episodes in space, exec producer Bill Prady says, noting that his living arrangements with new bride Bernadette will come up relatively quickly upon his return to Earth. "All of those things that we thought might happen at the end of Season 5 are happening in Season 6," he says. Exec producer Steve Molaro noted that the issue -- whether the couple will continue to live at home with the nagging Mrs. Wolowitz or find a place of their own -- won't be resolved quickly. "He's torn between two really powerful, strong women who both adore him," Prady says, noting that he doesn't want to disappoint his mother or let his new bride down. Says Helberg: "He's going to piss someone off a lot, whether it's his wife or his mother. He's got growing up to do. … Either way there's going to be someone yelling at him from another room."
As for his outer space experience, it won't all be smooth sailing for the Mama's Boy. "Howard learns that even though he makes it all the way to space, all the issues of life that plague him won't stay on Earth and have a way of following him all the way up to the space station," Molaro warns. Meanwhile, Helberg notes that Howard will encounter some rough space travels as he'll bear the brunt of the jokes on his mission -- both from his fellow astronauts as well as from home. In terms of what will happen once he does return home? Expect a boosted ego from the former leader of the wolf pack. "I don't think he's going to burry [that he was in space] and it sounds like he's going to be bullied in space," Helberg says. "He's definitely going to hype [having gone to space] … he's going to wear the NASA shirt to take the trash out."
So could kids be something that comes next for the new Mr. and Mrs. Wolowitz? Melissa Rauch said the union could make for some noisy offspring. "With the vocal tone of Bernadette and the Wolowitz family, that baby's cry would break glass," she said with a laugh.
Leonard and Penny
"They have a complicated road," Prady warns of what's to come for the fan-favorite couple following Leonard's spur-of-the-moment proposal. "If Sheldon and Amy's relationship is baffling and Howard and Bernadette's is traditional, Leonard and Penny's is rocky," he says. "They adore each other as people and friends and it keeps drawing them together and when they get together, they keep being unsure how to proceed there." Adds Cuoco: "I hope down the line, at the end of the show, that they're together but right now it's probably not right."
For his part, Galecki says timing continues to be a problem for Leonard, with Penny facing an entirely different issue. "I don't know that emotional maturity is Penny's strong suit right now; she seems to run away right now to any kind of proposal -- like when Leonard professed his love for her and she shut it down," he notes.
Sheldon and Amy
"A lot of the Sheldon-Amy relationship has to revolve around Sheldon, so in terms of [their relationship] expanding, that has to foster from Sheldon; whether that means he'll learn new things about himself, learn new limits to his boundaries or new boundaries, it's unclear. But I love the sparring that Amy and Sheldon have and the non-romantic elements of their relationship," Bialik. "There's never been any mention of Amy's attractiveness -- or lack of attractiveness -- to him; he likes her as she is, it's irrelevant to him and he's truly in love with her mind."
Raj, the Odd Man Out
Executive producer Chuck Lorre teased that there would be a new romance for Raj during Friday's Comic-Con panel in Hall H, but that was news to his portrayer, Kunal Nayyar. "That was the first time I heard it at the panel," he told THR. "He did say, 'Excited to see it,' so I don't know if it is the person or thing he's going to fall in love with or the actual relationship." Raj always used Howard as his crutch and he's going to have to lean on something, so whether he actually goes out there and risks his heart on some love, we'll see. As for who he'd like to see as his potential love interest, it's a short list: former Big Bang Theory guest stars Danica McKellar and Summer Glau or any "geek icon" since "Mayim Bialik is taken," he joked.
Meet the Parents (Again)
Prady and Molaro noted that they can't see Casey Sander not returning next season as Bernadette's father. "He brought a cool intensity [to the role] and we enjoyed that very much," Prady noted. Cuoco, meanwhile, continues to make a strong case for Penny's mother -- the only parental figure to not be seen or heard so far on the series -- to enter the picture. "I've been putting Lisa Kudrow out there to everyone," she says. "I think she should be a little younger, like Lisa, kinda trashy and I consider her a MILF and hitting on the guys, that's the kind of character I see; like a cougar." The addition, Cuoco says, would explain some of Penny's back story and her troubled siblings. "You have to have someone where that's coming from," she added.
The Big Bang Theory returns Thursday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. on CBS. Filming on Season 6 begins Aug. 8. What do you want to see happen? Hit the comments with your thoughts.