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The Big Bang Theory Spec Script Toolkit: Homework

August 11, 2010

I had someone ask me if I was going to do a Spec Script Toolkit for The Big Bang Theory and I told them I’d “do my best.”  I know it’s probably a crime considering I want to write sitcoms, but I don’t actually watch The Big Bang Theory.  Wait…I don’t watch any CBS sitcoms–Not for any particular reason, it’s just that I haven’t been drawn to any of them.  I grew up on the traditional mulit-cam sitcoms, but for some reason I’ve grown to prefer the single-cam shows a la The Office, 30 Rock, and my personal favorite….Arrested Development. I don’t believe that one is better than the other, it’s just a stylistic preference, I guess.  I don’t have the ratings in front of me, but I’m pretty sure the top sitcoms tend to be multi-cams, so it would even be in my best interest to force myself to watch them…but I don’t. Anyway, the purpose of this verbose introduction is to preemptively apologize for this being the only The Big Bang Theory Spec Script Toolkit post.  My Modern Family and Community posts should each end up with about four different parts discussing characters, structure, story, etc; but this shall be the lone post for The Big Bang Theory.  Sorry.  However, I will make an effort to actually watch this show, so I can at least say I’ve seen the darn thing.

Per my usual Spec Script Toolkits, I’m gonna quote Alex over at A TV Calling.  In his article, “Comedy Spec Script 2010 – What is hot and what is not” posted on A TV Calling, Alex lists The Big Bang Theory as a “Mainstream” show to spec.  This basically means that the show is getting spec’d a lot, but not as much as a 30 Rock or The Office, so it should have some longevity left in the spec world.

I won’t bore you with my lecture on the importance of actually doing some homework on the show your spec’ing…but if you really need a reminder, feel free to check out my Community Spec Script Toolkit:  Part 1 – Homework.  I think I waste two full paragraphs on why doing your “homework” is important.  It’s pretty much common sense, but not everyone is blessed with it…

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again:  You need to watch every episode at least three times.  Any less and you’re a not enough of a nerd to write a spec.  You can watch more if you like, but at some point (probably around the sixty-sixth time) you’ve already absorbed as much as you can and you need to stop procrastinating (not be confused with procrasturbating) and write your friggin’ spec!

Other than watching (or Tivo-ing) The Big Bang Theory every on CBS and/or purchasing episodes through itunes, I’m only aware of two possible sources for watching free episodes online.  Again, I’m not familiar with the show, so I’m assuming that during the season full episodes are available at these sites…there are none available right now:

  • Hulu – Not every episode is available forever, but it’s good if you want to re-watch one within a week or two of when it aired.
  • – Why wouldn’t there be full episodes here?

Now that you’re geeked out from wathcing so many episodes that you actually feel like a nerd, it’s time to get your hands on some scripts.

If you’ve been to my Resources page or read some of my other blog posts, you’ll know that I’m going to tell you to check out Lee Thomson’s blog, which has links to the following Big Bang Theory scripts:

Aside from watching episodes and reading scripts, there are a lot of good sources of supplemental info online. In no particular order, here are some Big Bang Theory links that may be of some use in your quest to finish a spec.

If you’re a sitcom nerd like me, you’re probably curious to see some examples of Big Bang Theory spec scripts written by fellow aspiring writers.  You’re in luck!  I found two online posted online:

Good luck with your specs and please feel free to add any additional links to the comments section!


February 2011 Update:

And if you haven’t already taken it…I set up a very brief survey to get some feedback on what you guys and gals are writing.  Seriously, it won’t take you long to complete it.  I did it in less than a minute.  (That’s not a guarantee…I can’t control how fast you type.)  At the end of the month, I’ll post the results of the survey for everyone to see.

CLICK HERE to take the Spec Script Survey ~


14 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2010 2:10 pm

    Hey, hey, I just got referenced here!

    I just want to add my two cents.

    First of all, I don’t really know about the quality of this particular spec script in its current form. It may or may not have problems. I simply do not know.

    But what I do know and want to say is that The Big Bang Theory is very likely the best show to spec right now. Yup. That’s because it has IMO the best potential/actual quality-ratio on the market. Meaning that it has potential to be a lot better but the writers on the show aren’t really delivering what should and could be delivered.

    The thing is that when you write a spec, you need to have edge over the other writers. If you don’t have any, you’re more or less just wasting your time and the time of others. That’s the reason I don’t spec 30 Rock. I don’t know what my edge over Fey/Carlock is. On the other hand, I think my edge over Lorre/Prady and TBBT is rather substantial.

    Also, TBBT is the #1 scripted show on tv ratings-wise, so that’s another big reason to consider specing it.

    • August 25, 2010 10:11 pm

      @Ville – Thanks for the great comments! And thanks for posting your spec online; if you have any issues with me linking to it, let me know and I’ll remove it.

      I think you make a good point about spec’ing TBBT because it COULD be much better (keeping in mind I don’t watch the show). However, I think there is merit in tackling a show like 30 Rock. If you’re able to match the genius of Fey & Carlock, that might actually show your talent better than writing a script of TBBT that exceeds the current show standards. (I used 30 Rock as an example only because of it’s fantastic writing (for MOST seasons…), but at this point it’s probably been spec’ed to death so it’s probably worth staying away.)

      As you mentioned, thought, the key to TBBT is that it’s very popular and pulls in the ratings (i.e. $$$$$$) that the networks want. So, I think a TBBT spec script’s strength is in the fact that you can showcase your skills as a writer by writing for a show that has a proven track record of success. That also means that your spec will have a long shelf life, because it’s unlikely that TBBT will be cancelled anytime soon.

      • August 31, 2010 5:37 pm

        Hi again.

        I see that you didn’t have any success in the Scriptapalooza competition. FWIW, I happened to take part last winter in the existing sitcom category. End result: none of my scripts even made the top-40.

        Me and my friends still get a good kick of the whole fiasco. (lol omg rigged scam)

  2. the big bang theory free streaming permalink
    August 31, 2010 3:03 pm

    Hey, do you know where I can purchase the full seasons’ dvd set? Me and my wife have been looking for this since forever lol. Thanks in advance.

    • August 31, 2010 3:25 pm

      (assuming this isn’t spam – haha)

      I don’t think there is a complete dvd set out, yet. I’m pretty sure shows don’t release complete sets until the series is over for good. So, you’d have to buy each season separately.

      Hope that helps!


  3. killertv permalink
    September 1, 2010 1:47 pm

    couple thoughts:

    1) TBBT doesn’t get posted online because WB doesn’t post most of its shows. Purchasing on DVD I think is the best way to see old episodes (though they do make it to some pirate video sites)

    2) i totally disagree with ville that TBBT is the best show to spec (and I have a TBBT spec finished!) the reason is that there are no multi-cams out there right now except for Lorre’s shows… so anyone who reads will either a) want to read a single cam instead or b) is on lorre’s team and will find something wrong. until there are more multicams on cable (which is coming soon) there won’t be much need for a multicam spec

    3) can there be some clarification about what VILLE means about edge over creators? The TV show is ALWAYS going to have the edge – we’re talking about professional writers who live and breathe the show working as a team to create the best product. that’s always going to be better than a spec of a show – right? or wrong?

    • September 2, 2010 12:03 pm

      The simple truth is that if you can’t write better scripts than the actual writers on the show, you will never work on tv. That’s why I’m saying how important it is to pick your spots carefully. Because if you don’t have that specific ‘edge’, you are dead regardless of the scripts that the producers may or may not prefer to read.

  4. September 1, 2010 2:35 pm

    @killertv – Thanks for the comments and excellent points!

    I’ll let Ville respond to some of your direct questions, but you make a great point about the lack of multicams on television right now. I can’t imagine Dan Harmon is reading TBBT scripts for potential Community staff writers… Speaking strictly from a contest/fellowship point of view, it might be good to spec TBBT simply because a ton of people watch it and are familiar with it, but still I agree that it isn’t “the best” right now.

    Regarding a writer’s “edge,” I suppose that your mindset should be (although it might be inaccurate) that you can write a better script than what’s on TV. So, maybe “edge” wasn’t the right word – absolutely the professional writers will always have an edge over amateurs. But, I think we all have a healthy bit of an ego to think that we can write better than some shows we’ve seen. Again, it probably ain’t accurate, but if nobody thought they could do any better than what’s on TV now, there’d never be any new writers!


  5. killertv permalink
    September 2, 2010 12:37 pm

    of course the script has to be good, but i have never heard this idea posited elsewhere regarding television, though the feature world uses it a lot because of how grueling the development process can be. the advice from the head of the comedy department at tv studio was to not write pilots because it’s impossible for a baby writer to execute it well – the writers hired to write pilots have been writing professionally for years and most of their scripts fail at some level. if that’s hard for one amateur to do the work of one professional, it’s extremely difficult to imagine one doing better than a whole team. i’ve read a lot of samples and maybe one or two were better than the show itself. i’m not saying samples don’t have to be good, but i think it would be a mistake to walk into a meeting with a script thinking it’s better than what’s aired

  6. October 23, 2011 11:49 am

    Hi there, this may no longer be monitored but if it is, I wanted to say thanks! I found the article super useful, specially the links to the scripts. And I also found what Ville said at the top of the comments very true and encouraging! So: thank you!

    • October 23, 2011 6:37 pm

      @Kristina – Wow, not a good sign when people assume the site isn’t monitored anymore 😦 I’m way behind, but I haven’t forgotten about this blog. Glad you’ve found the post helpful. Good luck with your script and let me know how it turns out!

  7. Scott45 permalink
    December 10, 2011 7:48 am

    Great Website! Currently about 75% done with a script for The Big Bang Therory. I think it’s the funniest show on TV. Is Scriptapalooza really a legit way to submit a script? I sent one in last year for Two and a Half Men at the same time Mr. Sheen was fired, but never heard anything. Keep up the good work!

    • December 10, 2011 12:03 pm

      Thanks Scott! I’ve heard mixed things about Scriptapalooza. I didn’t think it was run as well as Page (as far as updates and notifications are concerned). Good luck on your script!


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