No matter how you feel about TV bigwig Chuck Lorre and how he dealt with dissing Charlie Sheen on the series finale of [Two and a Half Men](series:200558), you have to give him the credit he deserves for something he did on his other mega popular show, [The Big Bang Theory](series:200751).
Of course, it was a touching and beautiful tribute to Mrs. Wolowitz (played by Carol Ann Susi), the never-on-screen but often-featured character from the show. The tribute to Mrs. Wolowitz proved yet again that sitcoms can be more than a sequence of laughs... they can accomplish evoking a real emotional reaction from the audience.
Carol Ann Susi passed in November after a fierce battle with cancer, and the show's producers weren't prepared - they had absolutely no plan to write her character Mrs. Wolwitz off of the show. They were in full production mode at the time of her death and had to improvise - and boy did they do a good job at it!
The cast of a TV show bonds with each other even more-so than the cast of a film, simply due to the fact that each year they come back and work together towards the same common goal. A show like Big Bang, which has been incredibly successful and has stayed on the air for what is now going on 8 years, probably starts to feel like a family. I mean, look at this cast photo... It looks like they are legitimately happy to be together!
So, anyway, on to the tribute episode...
Mrs. Wolowitz was present throughout the episode, starting with a phone call that took place between her and Howard. She was in Florida with family and asked Howie to check in on Stuart in case he's lonely. "How come she doesn't send someone to check in on me in case I'm lonely?" asks Howie. "Because you have a WIFE!" says an angry Bernadette. This goes to show, just because we have a more emotional episode doesn't mean we have to sacrifice humor we've come to expect from the show.
As they moved Mrs. Wolowitz's furniture into Stuart's renovated comic-book store - Howie and Stuart get quite emotional.
There's a cameo from Nathan Fillion that lightens the mood, preparing us for what is to happen at the end of the episode.
The fateful phone call finally comes that Howard's mom has passed in her sleep - she was entirely peaceful and went with the night. It was a good move to put all of the characters on-screen when it happens, allowing for a reaction that is partially the characters... but mostly the real people beneath the characters.
Sheldon gives an impromptu speech that was incredibly moving, and we realize that the love shared by all these cast members is real.
Leonard gives a toast to Mrs. Wolowitz that is really just Johnny Galecki speaking to Carol Ann Susi. He is legitimately choked up as he says Mrs. W won't be missed just by Howie, Stuart, and the rest, but by him, Simon, Kevin, Jim, Kaley, Melissa, Mayim, and Kunal. The fourth wall is broken here in a beautiful nod to Carol. Very sweet and real.
I love how they keep the humor alive, even in sadness. View the clip below in case you missed it:
Once again, we all realize the show literally must go on - the same way life must. But, that doesn't mean we can't respect those who leave us and do so in a way that would make them feel very proud and happy.
R.I.P. Carol Ann Susi. You may no longer be with us, but you have an episode dedicated in your honor that will live on forever! And I think that's pretty damn special.