On the Set: 'The Big Bang Theory'

2012-20 FEA Big Bang Kaley Cuoco Johnny Galecki H IPAD
David Strick

From left: Second camera assistant Colin Brown hands off the marker to Cuoco for a romantic scene with Galecki. "I'm the queen of not rehearsing," says Cuoco. "The guys always joke that if I ever directed, we'd never rehearse and go home at 10:30 a.m."

After five seasons, 13 Emmy nominations and two wins for lead actor Jim Parsons, Chuck Lorre's enduring Thursday night hit has production -- and geek-friendship comedy -- down to a science.

There's an air of excltement in nerd paradise, the set on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, where the cast and crew of CBS' ensemble comedy The Big Bang Theory, hard at work on the next to last episode of the year, have only a week left before wrapping their fifth season. On this morning, onscreen roommates Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons, and their dork-posse Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar are filming a scene in which they're being fitted for tuxedos for Howard's (Helberg) marriage to Bernadette (Melissa Rauch); co-stars Kaley Cuoco, Rauch and Mayim Bialik are in hair and makeup.

After a few takes, exec producers Chuck Lorre, Bill Prady and Steve Molaro, and others, huddle behind a wall of monitors, tweaking the dialogue to include references to science and superhero the Flash. "On a show like this, because the language is so specific, you have to know it perfectly, because if you don't, it'll take five to eight takes to get it right," Nayyar says of the script fix, which references the speed at which Howard's Soyuz rocket could potentially plummet to Earth. Between takes, the guys connect in the same fashion as their onscreen family, joking about anything pop culture -- including Kim Kardashian's flour-bombing -- all while Parsons as germaphobe Sheldon is clad in red long johns so as to avoid the microbes that (naturally!) lurk in a rental tux. "Two weeks ago, I was in a French maid costume, and that I talked them down from," Parsons says. "They wanted me in the Princess Leia slave uniform and a bikini. I said I'd need six months' warning and a trainer."

Meanwhile, director Mark Cendrowski, who has helmed nearly every episode, says the cast and crew have production down to a fine science. "We established a good shorthand early on that has helped carry out through the five years and made our days go quicker, and shorter," he notes. "With Chuck having to do several shows, we often get a truncated rehearsal time. I've always compared it to playing with an all-star team: You just roll the ball out sometimes and say, 'Go.' "