When “The Big Bang Theory” premieres its sixth season, Howard (Simon Helberg) is a newlywed and in space, the dynamic between Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is really awkward thanks to a badly timed proposal, Raj (Kunal Nayyar) is feeling lonely now that Howard is married, and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Amy (Mayim Bialik) are making slow progress in their relationship.
In the first episode back, Howard, still aboard the spaceship, finds married life to be more complicated than he thought, when he gets into the middle of a dispute between his new bride Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and his mom (voiced by Carol Ann Susi).
“His life is fraught,” says executive producer Bill Prady. “He is in space. He is going to come home and be a guy who was in space, which I think, can’t not affect you.”
In addition to Prady, XfinityTV.com had the opportunity to sit down with executive producer Steven Molaro and several members of “The Big Bang Theory” cast to get the inside scoop on Season 6. Here are five things you will want to know before tuning in:
How long will Howard stay in space? Howard will be in space for three or four episodes, where his nickname is “Froot Loops,” and, according to Molaro, all the issues of life that plagued him on earth have a way of following him all the way to the space station.
As for Helberg, he’s looking forward to Howard’s return and what it will mean in his life. “I don’t think he is going to bury that,” Helberg says. “I think he is going to lead with that line. It sounds as if he is going to be bullied in space, so it might be a sensitive topic, but he is going to definitely hype that and color that. He is going to wear the NASA shirt to take the trash out.”
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Where will Howard and Bernadette live: Howard and Bernadette’s wedding was such a quickie that the couple had no time to plan for their life together. When he returns, will Howard move out of his mother’s house and get his own place with Bernadette?
“He is torn between two really powerful, strong women, who both adore him,” Prady says. “I think that is one of the things that is key. In terms of being loved, Howard is passionately loved by two women. I think part of it is not wanting to let either one of them down. Because his dad left when he was young and he is an only child, he has been in this relationship with his mother. I think he is afraid of disappointing her and making her sad. Of all the characters to be married first, how great is it that it is the former wolf who has settled down? I always believed that the aggressively hitting on woman was because he wanted a wife.”
As for Helberg, he says, “I am always a fan of conflict and making a fool of myself. Living with his mother lends itself to the growing up Howard still has to do. But it might be too sad. Either way, his mother is going to be a presence in his life, and there is going to be someone yelling at him from another room. It will be fun to watch.”
Will Leonard and Penny be able to recover from his post-coital proposal? In the Season 5 finale, Leonard and Penny hook up again, when Leonard inadvertently pops the question: Will she marry him? She rebuffs him, so in Season 6, it remains to be seen how their very complicated relationship will move forward.
“They adore each other as people and friends and it keeps drawing them together,” says Prady. “When they get together, they are unsure how to proceed. We have all had that relationship where you can’t seem to pull apart, but you can’t seem to make it work — and theirs is that relationship.”
And Galecki adds, “Timing is not Leonard’s strong suit. Also, I don’t know that emotional maturity is Penny’s strong suit. She seems to run away from any proposal — when he professed his love for her, she shot it down. We talked early on about how these guys were going to mature very slowly. If it went well, it wouldn’t be funny.”
What’s next for Sheldon: Last season, Sheldon made it official and asked Amy to be his girlfriend. In what was a sweet moment in the finale, as everyone sat in front of the TV set watching Howard blast off into space, Sheldon took Amy’s hand. But don’t look for him to mellow too much. The producers say he will continued to be irritated by life.
“I think it is going to be slow and gentle,” Bialik says of Amy and Sheldon’s relationship. “I think it could go any number of ways. Sheldon has to stay the focus of the relationship. I think it is really important to be consistent It is either going to be his personal evolution or his social circle accepting me more.”
“Sheldon is brilliant and successful and he met Stephen Hawking,” Molaro says. “While it didn’t go exactly how he wanted, he made a bit of an impression. We like to remind the audience this guy is exceptional. While we have no plans at the minute, things in the science world are happening. Science is still a factor in the show and how good Sheldon is at it is still a factor. He still would love to win a Noble Prize some day.”
And Prady adds, “He will continue to be frustrated that everyone in the world just doesn’t do things the right way. Sheldon is a force for the status quo. Sheldon is challenged by change. The way you challenge Sheldon is to put him in situations with change and that is what we will do.”
Romance is in the cards for Raj Koothrappali: According to an announcement that the producers made at Comic-Con this year, Raj, who has always had Howard as a crutch, is supposed to find romance this season. But being this is “The Big Bang Theory,” we can safely assume the road will not be a smooth one. Especially if you remember that Raj has always been the guy to say things at the most inappropriate moments.
“A geek icon would be cool,” Nayyar says when asked who he would like to play his love interest. “Actually, any woman would be fine. I don’t think he has the right to be choosy. We had Danica McKellar on our show, who was Winnie on ‘The Wonder Years.’ It would be cool to have her back because I think she is such an icon in the geek world. Summer Glau or someone like that. Mayim Bialik is taken, so…”
“The Big Bang Theory” premieres its sixth season on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 8/7c on CBS.