Recently, I was invited by Warner Bros. to a taping of the The Big Bang Theory. I had never attended a taping of a show before so this was a real treat. The fact that it is such an immensely popular show made it all the more exciting. Tickets for a taping can be hard to come by so I am extremely grateful to Warner Bros. for this generous offer.
For those of you who have never attended a taping before, it’s definitely something to experience at least once – especially if you’re a fan of the show. We were asked to be at the WB Studios in Burbank, CA by 5:00 pm. We had reserved seats so it wasn’t as urgent as it was for those with general admission or stand-by tickets. Not sure how all the works but there were a lot of people waiting around when we arrived. From there we were escorted across the street to Studio 25. Security took all phones and cameras before we were shown to our seats. The audience section is tightly packed and tiny. There’s room for maybe 200 people. We sat in our assigned seats and waited…and waited…and waited. An MC/host oversees the entire evening. His tough job is to keep the audience informed on what’s going on with the taping, keep them entertained and keep the energy level up to HIGH at all times. I have never clapped and cheered so much in my entire life. Seriously – they want you to clap non-stop while you’re sitting there. Clap for the show, clap for other audience members, clap to the live DJ music, clap for candy. It is literally non-stop. Until it’s time to shoot a scene…
Once they’re ready to actually shoot a scene, everything gets dead silent. This is by far the best part of the evening. Watching them perform the show live is quite an experience. They do a take, then maybe another one. The writers come in and adjust a line or a reading and they shoot it again. All the while you can watch the action on monitors above and the feed looks exactly like you see it on the tv broadcast. But who has time to look at that when you have these sets and performers right in front of you. Everything looks tiny. The sets looks so small in real life. There’s an incredible depth of field when you see the thing on tv. But in the studio the sets look like miniature versions. We were seated in the middle of the audience area so pretty much right in front of Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment. That set attaches to the hallway and Penny’s apartment. On the far right and left were “swing sets” that are made up for the specific needs of each episode. The cafeteria where the boys work was completely out of view but used for one scene.
The show we watched taped was called “The Convention Conundrum”. It was a terrific episode filled with all kinds of nerdy references to Comic Con and Star Wars. We were graced with some rather exciting guest stars as well. I don’t want to spoil the episode so I won’t say more than that for now. Before taping began, we were also shown a rough cut of the previous episode. This was the Valentine’s Episode and was pretty great. Can’t wait to see the broadcast versions of these.
Sitting there for such a long time was surprisingly tough. I loved watching the scenes being shot but most of the time you’re waiting around for them to set-up the next shot. Filming is such a small fraction of the entire time spent on the set. Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco came up to the audience section and thanked everyone for coming. Apparently this was the 150th episode of the show’s run. Half way through the taping they provided the audience with a slice of pizza and a small bottle of water. There were endless (I mean, endless) audience participation bits with the host. They go to great lengths to keep the energy level high and the laughs coming. It was surprisingly difficult to keep laughing at the same scene over and over. Still, everything seemed to run smoothly and we were out of there by 10:15 or so. It was a long night – but a fun one. I am eternally grateful to Warner Bros. for the opportunity.
UPDATE: 01/29/14 The episode we saw taped is scheduled to air tomorrow (01/30/14) on CBS.