What's Worth Watching: The Big Bang Theory Grapples With a Loss
The Big Bang Theory, "The Comic Book Store Regeneration" (Thursday, Feb. 19, 8/7c, CBS)
Oh, how we'll miss that screeching voice, bellowing "How-ARD!" from the wings of the Big Bang soundstage, bedeviling eternal mama's boy Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) in an Oedipal sideshow that never failed to amuse. Mrs. Wolowitz, voiced hysterically by the late Carol Ann Susi (who passed away in November after a short battle with cancer), is part of a grand tradition of never-seen but never-forgotten sitcom characters, including Rhoda's Carlton the Doorman, Cheers's Vera and Frasier's Maris. Susi's outrageous performance also harks back to the days of radio when we had to use our imagination to conjure a character's presence by sound alone. Her sudden death leaves a terrible void, and this week's episode will apparently confront the tragedy as, per CBS, "Wolowitz receives some shocking news."
In happier tidings, Stuart (Kevin Sussman)—who recently had been living with Mrs. Wolowitz, stoking Howard's ire—finally reopens his comic-book store, and uber-nerds Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar) confront guest star Nathan Fillion in a free-range celebrity sighting. Too bad they left their Firefly browncoats at home.