‘Young Sheldon’ Series Finale: EP Steve Holland Talks Return Of Mayim Bialik & Jim Parsons, Why The World Needs A Sheldon Cooper Memoir

‘Young Sheldon’ Series Finale: EP Steve Holland Talks Return Of Mayim Bialik & Jim Parsons, Why The World Needs A Sheldon Cooper Memoir

Spoiler alert! This story contains details from the series finale episode of Young Sheldon on CBS.

Good luck at Caltech, Sheldon! We know you’ll do just fine and go on to make great friends in Pasadena.

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The May 16 episode of Young Sheldon marked the end of The Big Bang Theory spinoff, with young Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage) heading off to California to further his studies. Here, executive producer Steve Holland explains why Sheldon first needed to dip his body in baptismal water before making the trek, and why it was so important that his adult self write a memoir about his childhood in Texas.

DEADLINE: What was the very last scene you shot before Young Sheldon wrapped for good?

STEVE HOLLAND It was the family dinner scene where Mary [Zoe Perry] wants them to get baptized. George’s chair is there with a place setting, but he’s obviously passed away at that point. So we wanted to end in a scene that had as many of the characters in it as possible. And those dinner scenes have been such a staple of the show.

DEADLINE: What was that last day like?

HOLLAND: It was really emotional. I mean, honestly, the whole last month was. It was incredibly emotional writing the funeral episode and the finale and realizing how that was the last Young Sheldon script we were ever going to write. And then, when we got into production on those last three episodes … everyone knew the show was coming to an end and they were grieving that in some way, while grieving the death of the character. So there was a lot of real life emotions being mixed in with character emotions. Tears were readily available to everybody, but it literally had been weeks of saying goodbye.

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DEADLINE: Why was it important for Mary to have her kids baptized?

HOLLAND: I think it was George’s death that started Mary on the road to being The Big Bang Theory Mary. I mean, she was always religious on Young Sheldon, but in Big Bang, Mary is even more religious. And we always thought that George’s death was sort of a flashpoint moment for a lot of these characters. I think for her, especially in the wake of losing George and realizing that anything could happen at any moment, she turns to religion and it’s super important for her to know that her kids’ souls are safe — especially for Sheldon who’s going to go off into the world and isn’t going to be where she can protect him. I think it’s just really important for her to feel like he’s going to be okay.

DEADLINE: It was such a great idea to put Sheldon in a scuba suit for that.

HOLLAND: When we were talking about what it would take to get Sheldon baptized, we liked the call back to the pilot where Mary gives him an out and he says, ‘I don’t believe, but I do believe in you.’ But we also felt like Sheldon’s not going to get in that tank of water unprotected. So it was a discussion about what he would wear. At first we had him just in a wetsuit, but honestly, a black wetsuit looked kind of like a superhero costume. It looked a little too cool. So then we were trying to figure out how to gussy it up with yellow boots and a life preserver to give it color. We just kept adding and taking away until we found what seemed like the best look for him.

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From left: Ed Bagley Jr, Wallace Shawn, Annie Potts, Zoe Perry and Montana Jordan (CBS)
From left: Ed Bagley Jr, Wallace Shawn, Annie Potts, Zoe Perry and Montana Jordan (CBS)

DEADLINE: Did you know for several seasons that you wanted Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik in the finale?

HOLLAND: I think in the back of our minds, it was always the thing we wanted. Certainly Jim, because he’d been narrating the whole thing. As we got to the finale, I think Chuck Lorre had pitched the idea of bringing back Mayim and Jim, which was really exciting and so much fun. But then it was like a balancing act for us. We wanted to make sure that we honored this cast and not let adult Sheldon and Amy dominate the last episode. I’m really happy with the balance we found. I think that Jim and Mayim are in it a great amount, but I think the Cooper family still gets their moment to shine.

DEADLINE: So why would the world need a Sheldon Cooper memoir?

HOLLAND: He’s a Nobel Prize winning physicist. I think he might’ve assumed the world needed that, whether that happened or not, but in the wake of him being a Nobel Prize winner and perhaps going on to even more research, the world needs to know about his childhood.

DEADLINE: So was the first time that we learned Sheldon and Amy named their kid Leonard?

HOLLAND: We’d said that before, I think in the episode where Sheldon graduates from high school. I think adult Sheldon says in voiceover that they have a son named after Leonard.

DEADLINE: What was it like bringing Mayim and Jim back together?

HOLLAND: Those are actors who I love and spent a decade of my life with. I see them from time to time, and obviously Jim narrated the show, so we saw him. But that’s usually on Zoom. He lives in New York, so we’re not in the same actual room that often. So just to be in the same room with him again was great and a little surreal because it felt like no time had passed.

DEADLINE: Was that final scene shot at Caltech?

HOLLAND: Yeah. I think that might be the first time, although we shot in an office at Caltech once when Stephen Hawking was on Big Bang. But I think it was the first time we’ve actually shot outside on the campus.

DEADLINE: Even watching that episode, you can imagine the next chapter of this saga with Sheldon going to college and meeting Leonard. But I guess that’s too much to dream about?

HOLLAND: I think so. You also get into this weird thing where somehow, he would have to morph into Jim Parsons. But we at least know we’re sending him off on that hopeful note, and we know that his future is full of friends and relationships and good things.

DEADLINE: Let’s talk about the spinoff, George & Mandy’s First Marriage! It’s so great that it’s going to be a multi-camera comedy. Did you want to do that all along?

HOLLAND: Multicam is our background. For Chuck and Steven Molaro and I, that’s how we came up in this business. The single camera show has been great and lovely, but I think in our bones we’re kind of multi-cam people and there’s nothing quite like putting a show up in front of an audience every week. It was important for Young Sheldon to be single cam, just to separate it from The Big Bang Theory, so it didn’t feel like we were just trying to copy Big Bang. This is a way to make this new show also feel like its own thing and not feel like it’s another season of Young Sheldon. It’ll give it its own identity. It’ll give it its own flavor. And putting this cast up in front of an audience is going to be really exciting.

DEADLINE: What soundstage will you be on?

HOLLAND: We’re going to be on the Big Bang stage, stage 25. I actually haven’t been back on that stage since we wrapped Big Bang. I’m excited. I think I’ve been in this business long enough to have heard the death of multi-cam many times and it’s always sort of bounced back. I think there’s something to be said for a comedy in front of an audience, a comedy that’s really about laughs. I hope audiences are ready for a return to that. I think there’s a real space for that in the world. There are so few of them now, and I have no idea how audiences are going to respond, but I know we are excited about it, and that’s been a good sort of guiding light for us throughout all this is, to try to do things we’re excited about and hope an audience follows you along.

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