Young Sheldon

CBS, Mondays 8:30/7:30 Central

Sep 25, 2017 Web Exclusive
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All the characters on CBS's powerhouse comedy, The Big Bang Theory, tend to wax on about their childhoods. Over the course of the show's 10 seasons, their backstories have become as familiar as the tellers' endearing quirks. Young Sheldon takes, arguably the most popular of these, Jim Parsons' Sheldon Cooper, around which it builds another comedy. Young Sheldon is a single-camera, mercifully laugh track-free, nostalgic family sitcom that is billing itself as a too obvious cross between The Wonder Years and Doogie Howser, M.D., the former for the look-back retro factor and the latter for the child genius aspect.

In the pilot, which takes place in 1989, Sheldon, played by Little Big Lies' Iain Armitage, is entering high school at nine years of age. He is accompanied by his mother and alongside his not-too-bright jock older brother, leaving his twin sister Missy in elementary school. Much like his older self, the bow-tied Sheldon has no filter or understanding of social cues, quickly upsetting both his peers and the faculty, while remaining oblivious.

The strongest aspects of Young Sheldon are his sister and his mother. The underrated Raegan Revord's portrayal of the "normal" twin Missy is both naturally accurate and winningly cheeky. Zoe Perry, real life daughter of adult Sheldon's mother Laurie Metcalf, is eerily spot-on. The superb Annie Potts, who plays Sheldon's beloved Meemaw doesn't make an appearance in the pilot, but faith in her is strong, as she has never set a wrong foot. Armitage does a decent imitation of Parsons' Sheldon, but his over-articulation is quick to get wearing.

Sheldon's character on The Big Bang Theory remains interestingly different, and in its 11th year, for the most part, maintains a refreshing quality on a show that should really wrap itself up. On Young Sheldon this same character is too predictable. Even so, the child Sheldon shows flashes of compassion that are at odds with his character while the unexpectedly sympathetic father doesn't quite mesh with adult Sheldon's recollections, which are anything but. All the stories from Sheldon's childhood have been told already-much funnier in the rear view mirror of adulthood. Finally, Parsons' voiceover of the narrative is wholly unnecessary.

Young Sheldon has a lot of heavy hitters backing it up. The Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre and producer Steven Molaro serve as creators for Young Sheldon while Parsons is executive producer. Furthermore, its prime spot following The Big Bang Theory is a guaranteed winner. With all these elements working in its favor, scale back on the titular character and give Missy and the mom some more individual airtime and you might have something worth its timeslot. (www.cbs.com/shows/young-sheldon)

Author rating: 5/10

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