Young Sheldon – Pilot
By: Jennifer Vintzileos
From the creative minds of The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) creators Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro comes a show that delves deeper into the awkward childhood of a young Sheldon Cooper (Iain Armitage). Narrated by Jim Parsons, who plays the adult Sheldon Cooper on TBBT, we are treated to learning just how Sheldon Cooper became the individual he is today. Living in Texas with his devoutly Christian mother Mary (Zoe Perry), slightly apathetic high school football coach father George Sr. (Lance Barber), disgruntled older brother Georgie (Montana Jordan) and twin sister Missy (Raegan Revord), Sheldon is forced to navigate everyday life feeling superior yet not quite understanding how his words and actions come off to the rest of the world.
The episode begins with Sheldon indulging in his favorite hobby: trains. As Parsons talks about himself in this moment, the younger version is content to play with his trains, adding in a bit of physics to allude to his future career path. Yet this moment is short-lived as his mother calls him to dinner. Gathering the family around the table to say grace before eating, Sheldon pulls out his mittens to put them on before joining hands between his father and Georgie. At dinner we also learn that 9-year old Sheldon will be starting his first day of high school soon, along with Georgie who is less than thrilled at the situation.
After volunteering at dinner that night with his sister being forced to join them, Sheldon accompanies his mother to church the next morning. Even though he may not believe in what his mother believes, Sheldon makes it a point to support his mother. She was and always has been his Christian soldier.
That night Sheldon and Missy overhear their parents arguing over money, but mainly the argument is over Sheldon’s inability to deal with germs, as he will require new shoes instead of being given Georgie’s hand-me-downs. Of course, Missy doesn’t let a moment go by without pointing out the problems stem from Sheldon, but Sheldon learns to let Missy’s comments not affect him.
As the next day starts we witness Sheldon’s first official day in high school and it starts off as chaotic as we would hope. His father George starts by stealing Sheldon’s bowtie in an effort to normalize him a little for the high school experience. Mary witnesses Sheldon’s panic and while she initially blames Georgie for the theft, she recovers the bowtie and Sheldon is on his way to school. Upon arrival and glancing around at the other kids, Mary convinces Sheldon to lose the bowtie with a promise of a trip to Radio Shack.
Unfortunately, homeroom is another story as the teacher Ms. MacElroy (Valerie Mahaffey) gets a good old-fashioned dose of Sheldon pointing out any and all violations of school code in the classroom. This action further embarrasses Georgie who manages to slump into his chair and try to disassociate himself from his brother. By the afternoon, Ms. MacElroy along with teachers Mr. Givens (Brian Stepanek) and Ms. Ingram (Danielle Pinnock) are convened in Principal Peterson’s (Rex Linn) office to complain about their young new prodigy and his penchant for correcting them. Sheldon’s parents sit and listen to the teachers continue their tirades, eventually trying to explain to the teachers and the Principal that Sheldon cannot be taken out of the high school as it seems like he has no other place to go.
Meanwhile, Sheldon finds his way into the music room and teacher Ms. Fenley (Melissa Tang) playing a classical piece on her cello. Intrigued by the melody Sheldon sits down at the nearby piano and begins to pluck out the notes to the song that Ms. Fenley is playing. She is interested in how Sheldon learned the piece so quickly and proceeds to sit down with him at the piano and test his skills. In learning that he has perfect pitch she tries to urge young Sheldon to pursue music, but she too is rebuffed by the young prodigy as he says that pursuing music is for drug addicts and homeless people.
Later at football practice we witness Georgie’s first day of school begin to take its toll as he gets into a fight on the field with another player. He angrily storms off the field with his father in tow, swearing that he doesn’t want to play football anymore and that the prospect of him and Sheldon being in the same grade is affecting him more than he cares to let on. George Senior makes it a point to assure Georgie that everything will be fine and goes as far as interrupting Sheldon’s TV time watching Professor Proton (Bob Newhart) to talk with him.
During that conversation we learn that George Senior was very much like Sheldon in wanting to speak the truth about seeing others break the rules at his prior job. Unfortunately, exposing the other people and their wrong doings had cost George his job, which is the reason that the Cooper family had to start over somewhere new. Because of his father’s honesty, Sheldon decides to forego the mitten at grace that night and grasp his father’s hand. As for Georgie, Sheldon admits he wouldn’t grasp his brother’s hand until the invention of Purell. In the end scene we see Mary keeping her promise by taking Sheldon to Radio Shack.
While Young Sheldon lacks the bite of the older Sheldon Cooper it is quite interesting to see the younger version navigate life and grow into the version we all know and love (and sometimes loathe). Armitage brings those Sheldon-isms to life with a touch of innocence and wit that the audience can appreciate. Join me next week to see what new situations Sheldon can get himself into!