GUEST LIST PACKS ‘BIG BANG’
The (sitcom) stars align as families gather for Penny and Leonard’s wedding
BURBANK, CALIF. When TV’s most-watched comedy throws a wedding, it only makes sense to have a glittery guest list, including stars from Roseanne, Taxi, Cybill, Married ... With Children, 30 Rock and other past hits.
Fourteen actors — eight series regulars and six guest stars — crowd a set made to look like an arboretum, as ceremonial vows are exchanged for already married Penny (Kaley Cuoco) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) in The
Big Bang Theory’s 10th-season premiere, airing Monday (8 ET/ PT) on CBS.
Love eventually triumphs, but not without some awkward asides, courtesy of Sheldon (Jim Parsons); Leonard’s antagonistic, divorced parents (Christine Baranski and Judd Hirsch); and Penny’s nervous, insecure mother (Katey Sagal) and ex-jailbird brother (Jack McBrayer). No- nonsense officiant Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) barks at the miscreants to keep the ceremony from disintegrating.
On set, however, the mood is anything but tense, as the cast jokes and laughs between takes. McBrayer has castmates in stitches.
“Jack’s hilarious,” Cuoco says during a shooting break. “He thinks we have it too easy here.”
Bang regulars are impressed with their guests, whose shows have been staples of comedy for years. (One rough studio estimate has cast and writers’ credits topping 4,000 episodes.) “Everywhere you look, it’s TV royalty,” Rauch says.
The sitcom’s extended family has grown over the years. Baranski, as cold psychologist Beverly, and Laurie Metcalf, who plays Sheldon’s Bible-quoting mother, Mary, have made several appearances; Hirsch’s first visit as Alfred came in May’s season finale.
“Meeting a character’s parents is like meeting a friend’s parents. You learn a lot about that friend when you meet their family. ‘Oh, that makes sense now,’ ” Galecki says.
As Penny and Leonard make their vows, the premiere also builds on the potential romance between Alfred and Mary, who left the pre-ceremony family dinner together in May, worrying their sons.
“I hope Alfred and I are able to continue to see each other,” Metcalf says of the characters. “I think we’re the only ones who are pleased about that.”
The opener features the first appearance of Sagal’s Susan and McBrayer’s eternally cheerful meth salesman, Randall, along with the return of Keith Carradine as Penny’s dad, Wyatt.
Penny’s rural-Nebraska family feels out of its element. “These are intellectuals and scientists. We come into it with something of an inferiority complex,” Carradine says.
And Penny’s mom, Susan, is mortified about Randall’s drug conviction.
“I’m humiliated that Penny has implied that she’s told everybody that her brother has been in jail,” Sagal says. “So, I’m nervous to meet them all.”
Cuoco is happy fans will meet Penny’s family, and “ecstatic” Sagal will again play her mom, echoing their relationship on ABC’s 8
Simple Rules. The pair became especially close after the sudden death of series star John Ritter.
“We went through a traumatic life change together. She was unbelievable,” Cuoco says. Nevertheless, “I had never even thought of Katey (for the Big
Bang role). Maybe it’s because when one thing is done, you move onto something else. When they named her, I almost thought it was too wild of an idea. It ended up being perfect.”
Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) exchange vows before friends and family in the Season 10 premiere of