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‘Young Sheldon’ an uplifting ‘Big Bang Theory’ prequel

By: - Writing Editor
/ 12:04 AM November 13, 2017

Iain Armitage plays the titular character in “Young Sheldon.”

The humor of long-running sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” may be hit-and-miss, but perhaps the lighter new comedy series, its prequel show “Young Sheldon,” can be less polarizing to viewers.

While it’s not as aggressive in name-dropping items from geek culture like the seminal show, the latter creates a nostalgic late-’80s setting, and gives its standout character an interesting origin story.

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The character—the eccentric theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper, played in “Big Bang Theory” by Jim Parsons—gets fleshed out in a weekly, half-hour comedy-drama series, his child prodigy version played by adorable tyke Iain Armitage. So, it’s Sheldon minus the sometimes-annoying weirdness, and the overall over-the-top quality of the successful sitcom.

In the pilot episode, we see young Sheldon, age 9, as a new high school student. His acceleration worries his mom (Zoe Perry), despite being proud of her unusually smart kid. It comes as a relief to his twin sister (Raegan Revord), who can’t understand his increasingly odd ways. It certainly annoys his older brother (Montana Jordan), because he and Sheldon now attend the same classes.

Cocreated by Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro, the show (Warner TV, Fridays, 8:35 p.m.) offers a toned-down, “Wonder Years”-like flashback to simpler but formative times, providing an uplifting backstory that better humanizes the often-robotic older Sheldon.

Armitage doesn’t resemble the adult “Big Bang Theory” actor, but he’s likable and capable. The show is accompanied by Parsons’ voiceover narration, and the child actor brings an endearing, innocent dimension to the mostly underdog character.

In the second episode, his cute fish-out-of-water situation is emphasized when the socially awkward child pushes himself to make friends at school—to please his concerned mom.

It’s one of Lorre’s more wholesome and introspective shows, and that’s clear from the get-go. This prequel series isn’t laugh-out-loud hilarious—actually, it goes for more controlled snickers—and it suits this comedic tonal shift to family-centric fare just fine.

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TAGS: The Big Bang Theory, TV Series, Young Sheldon
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