An Untimely Ending

I’m in mourning.

My friend of 12 years died last Thursday night. I had plenty of time to prepare, yet the loss was still painfully saddening.

My friend seemed to be in the prime of life –as full of fun and laughter as ever. The shocking pronouncement came Aug. 22, 2018 — 9 months to live. Heart failure was imminent, and a transplant would not be considered.

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The core cast of The Big Bang Theory were together for a final take-out meal as a special rendition of the show theme song by the Barenaked Ladies slowly played in the background. Good-bye Bernadette, Howard, Leonard, Penny, Sheldon, Amy and Raj. I’ll see you in the reruns,

I am speaking, not of a flesh-and-blood friend, but of The Big Bang Theory.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

The CBS sitcom was still in the ratings stratosphere when the bad news was delivered. So, why?

From what I’ve read, Jim Parsons wanted to move on from his role of Sheldon Cooper. Chuck Lorre, show co-creator (with Bill Prady), recognizing that Sheldon was the heart of the series, decided to pull the plug.

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A running gag ended in the Big Bang Theory series finale when the gang’s apartment building elevator, out of order for the entire duration of the show, was put back in operation.

The series lived up to its title by going out with a double-episode bang May 16. Sheldon remained steadfastly true to his alienating, socially inept, politically incorrect nature until the very last scene, when put aside his self-centered 90-minute Nobel Prize acceptance speech to recognize, praise and thank his friends.

It was Sheldon’s emotionally charged, eleventh-hour transformation to full humanity.

The series finale made a beautiful and equally emotional connection to the season finale of Young Sheldon, which immediately followed. In the ending moments, pre-pubescent Sheldon was sitting, friendless, in the family garage, to which he had invited everyone to listen to the Nobel awards live via shortwave radio. The camera then switched to shots of the child versions of those who would become his Big Bang Theory buddies.

It was a message of hope for anyone who has ever felt alone and at odds with the world.

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Chuck Lorre’s vanity card, presented at the end of the Young Sheldon season finale, said it all. Vanity Card #622, at the end of the immediately preceeding Big Bang Theory series finale, simply read “The End.” Liar.

But wait, there’s more.

After Young Sheldon, came Unraveling the Mystery: A Big Bang Farewell. This half-hour, behind-the-scenes bonus, hosted by Kaley Cuoco (Penny) and Johnny Galecki (Leonard), shared special moments from the series. More tears on both sides of the screen.

And yet, that still wasn’t the end of the Thursday night BBT farewells.

The entire cast core guested on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, giving the show its highest Thursday night rating since Colbert succeeded David Letterman as host. It wound up with a live performance of The Big Bang Theory theme song by the Barenaked Ladies.

The Big Bang Theory most certainly did not end with a whimper. It ended with a hearty Bazinga!

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