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A Coming-of-Age Prequel That “Big Bang” Fans Would Love

Ian Artmitage stars as nine-year-old Sheldon Cooper in the new spin-off series 'Young Sheldon.' PHOTO/ Entertainment Tonight
Ian Artmitage stars as nine-year-old Sheldon Cooper in the new spin-off series ‘Young Sheldon.’ PHOTO/ Entertainment Tonight

By Michal Yefet

Published: October 4th, 2017

CBS has done the unthinkable! For over a decade, fans have loved the quirkiness that is Dr. Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) on “The Big Bang Theory.” Now, with the installment of the network’s new show, “Young Sheldon,” fans get to see what Sheldon was like growing up. Portrayed by Iain Armitage, we are taken back to when Sheldon was just nine-years-old, and we get the chance to see how he became the Dr. Sheldon Cooper we all love.

We often find ourselves wanting to see more and more of our favorite characters on any given TV show; sometimes we are lucky enough to be able to see a sequel, and if we’re really lucky, a prequel of what the character was like. After a decade of waiting, “Big Bang” fans finally get to see how Sheldon became…well…Sheldon.

On September 25, the pilot episode of “Young Sheldon” aired with Parsons being the narrator throughout the show. The episode begins with Parsons saying, “I’ve always loved trains,” and we are shown little Sheldon (Armitage) playing with his train set and being fascinated by them; “Big Bang” fans know Sheldon can be occupied with trains for hours—even days.

Armitage plays Sheldon exactly as one would imagine him to be as a child. He points out the obvious in awkward situations, makes snarky remarks, and even makes a point of showing how intelligent he is as often as he can, just like his grown self does.

We find Sheldon constantly making any situation much more awkward than it needs to be. Whether it’s talking about puberty in church (out loud), pointing out tattoos and pregnant teenagers, publically making it known when students are violating the dress code, and even insulting teachers mid-class by telling them that they are violating the dress code or are ‘not very intelligent,’ Sheldon always seems to find a way to make his peculiar, lovable personality known. With these awkward moments, there always seems to be a particular question that is asked around Sheldon, the question being “What is wrong with him?”

Shortly after the train fantasy in the opening scene, we see the Cooper family sitting down for dinner and saying grace. Before they can say grace, Sheldon makes a point of putting on mittens to hold his brother’s and father’s hands, because he doesn’t know where their hands have been or when they were last cleaned, as most young germaphobes would be concerned about. His older brother, Georgie (Montana Jordan), makes a point of calling Sheldon adopted, to which Sheldon answers, “How can I be adopted when I have a twin sister? Think, monkey, think!” This is, of course, a comment only Sheldon would say out loud.

As Georgie and Sheldon’s twin sister Missy (Raegan Revord) fight over dinner, Parsons’ voice is overheard saying, “Jane Goodall had to go to Africa to study apes…I just had to go to dinner.”

Being as eccentric as Sheldon is, people often wonder if what is being said is real, since it seems so unnatural, especially, for a nine-year-old boy who is supposed to be enrolled in the third grade, but is beginning the new school year in the ninth grade. Parsons believes high school to be, as he puts it, “a haven for higher learning.”

Mid-episode, Sheldon stumbles upon a music lab where a teacher is playing the violin. Sheldon quietly walks into the room and begins to play the exact same tune as the violin but on the piano instead. The teacher later tells him that he has perfect pitch, which to our surprise, he responds with, “Okay.”

To most people, being told that they had perfect pitch is an amazing and exciting moment, but not to Sheldon. To Sheldon, his “gift” is almost expected with the level of intelligence from such a brilliant mind.

Although Sheldon is highly intelligent, he is not able to detect others’ emotions very well, which often causes him trouble or uncomfortable moments. In the second-to-last scene of the pilot, Sheldon learns that the real reason his family moved cities was because his dad (Lance Barber) was fired from his previous job as a football coach; which he loved very much. Sheldon also learned that being fired and having to move as to not be humiliated was very difficult for his father and, as a result, saddens him daily.

Right after this exchange, we see the Coopers once again sitting down for dinner, which of course leads to the mittens for grace. When they begin saying grace, Sheldon takes off one of his mittens and holds his father’s hand. Since he learned his father was sad and this event had hurt him, Sheldon voluntarily holds his father’s hand; no prior washing, no hesitancy, and most of all, no mittens, just bare hands. This act of innocence warms Barber’s heart knowing that he was able to reach his son on a deeper level to tell him he was hurting; a level of love. To end this memorable moment, Parsons’ voice is echoed throughout the room saying, “That was the first time I held my father’s hand…I wouldn’t touch my brother’s hand until seventeen years later, thanks to the invention of Purell.”

With Jim Parsons as his future self, Iain Armitage has some big shoes to fill; he is learning very quickly, however, considering he is only nine years old.

The season kicks off on Thursdays at 8:30 p.m., starting November 2. 

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