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Melissa Rauch, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik, Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Kunal Nayyar.

TV | The Big Bang Theory

Goodbye to a sitcom phenom that had its own special formula

COMEDY We have become a nation of happy nerds, proud geeks. We’re unashamed of knowing every origin story in the Marvel Universe. We spend days anticipating the latest episode of Game of Thrones, then spend several more days dissecting it afterward. But Big Bang Theory, the now-classic sitcom that’s heading for its finale after 12 seasons, was ahead of all of us: Here was a show that celebrated the eccentric, the obsessive—the silly. Bang was about science-loving oddballs, chief among them theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons, eyes shining with pleasure as he purred sarcastic little jokes). Even though any given episode dropped in Google-worthy references—there really is something called a Mandelbrot set, which Sheldon envisioned in a float tank—these folks weren’t completely insular. They believed in friendship and in love—the schlubby, lumpy Roz Chast sort. The finale may or may not answer the question of whether the show’s always-broken elevator will be fixed (people obsess over Big Bang, same as Avengers). Other mysteries, like how an ensemble generates warmth and humor for so long, remain beyond analysis. Thanks, all, for a Bang-up job. (CBS, May 16, 8 p.m.)

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