The Big Bang Theory finally received its first Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series, one of five awards it is nominated for next month. Jim Parsons (Sheldon) did win an Emmy last year for outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, and both he and Johnny Galecki (Leonard) are nominated in the same category this year, but it took four seasons for the show itself to be recognized as one of the best situation comedies on the air. In contrast, Modern Family was nominated (and won) in its first season out.

Perhaps the reason the show is only now getting recognition is because it may have taken four years for the series to hit its stride. The addition of several female cast members along the way, including two scientists, Bernadette and Amy, both of whom have PhDs, and Priya, Leonard’s girlfriend last season, who’s an attorney, definitely upped the show’s appeal.  But the process of incremental improvements in the cast and storytelling began even before the show went on the air. Recently, The Exchange discovered that the series’ original pilot is available for viewing online even though it never aired. After watching it, take a look at the redone, official pilot. You’ll notice several major improvements, beginning with the music. The original pilot used Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me with Science,” whereas now the show opens with an original catchy tune by the Barenaked Ladies. However, it’s the cast and character changes that are most significant. In the original pilot, Sheldon and Leonard seem almost indistinguishable. By the time the second pilot was shot, Sheldon’s character had been tweaked considerably.

In the original pilot, Sheldon and Leonard rescue Katie, who becomes their roommate – instead of acquiring new neighbor Penny. Plus, there’s Gilda, a scientist and precursor to Leslie Winkle, who made appearances during the first three seasons of the show. There’s also no sign of either Howard or Raj in the original pilot, both of whom proved to be key additions to the cast. Some of the dialogue and a few of the original jokes did survive, however, especially the science-related ones.

The Big Bang Theory now has a first-rate ensemble cast, and the quality of the writing has hit an all-time high. But will the series take home the Emmy next month? Who knows? But whatever happens, there’s cause for celebration: A comedy show that features scientists as its main characters has been certified as one of TV’s best.

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"The Big Bang Theory" derives its humor by reinforcing negative stereotypes of scientists. A program that did this with virtually any other group of people would be universally condemned. Are we so desperate for scientists to be portrayed in the media that we celebrate this program?

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