Once Bob Newhart makes his fourth appearance on The Big Bang Theory, his character Professor Proton will have had two episodes as a living character and two communicating with Sheldon from beyond the grave. CBS announced Wednesday that Newhart will guest star on the December 17 episode as Sheldon’s childhood hero Arthur Jeffries. There’s an undeniable Star Wars connection as Jeffries last came to Sheldon in a dream, dressed as Obi-Wan Kenobi. The new film in that classic franchise hits theaters that same day, although its official U.S. release date is December 18.
According to CBS, Jeffries “appears in the theoretical physicist’s dreams as a ghostly Jedi to help him sort out his feelings and make a very important decision.” The release notes that this season has already seen a guest appearance by Adam Nimoy and that Tesla founder Elon Musk is to appear in an upcoming installment. Variety reported the episode with Newhart has not yet been shot.
Newhart, 86, is a comedy legend who starred in two eponymous television series, The Bob Newhart Show (1972-1978) and Newhart (1982-1990). Newhart has eight Emmy nominations going back to 1962, but has only won once, for guest-starring on The Big Bang Theory.
At the start of this season, Big Bang Theory‘s executive producer told the Hollywood Reporter that, at the time, there were no plans for Newhart to return to the series, although the door remained open.
“He knows he’s welcome here. If we can come up with a plan that works with his schedule, we’d love to make it happen.”
THR also reported in May of 2014 that Newhart had to learn about the Jedi character for his dreamtime appearance to Sheldon. There were Lucasfilm advisers on-set to help. Fans of the series might remember Jeffries’ delight as he learned how to wield a lightsaber.
Eagle-eyed viewers will note that the synopsis says Jeffries returns to help Sheldon make an important decision. So far this season, Sheldon’s primary focus has been recovering from his breakup with Amy. They seem no closer to reuniting, as last week Sheldon caught Amy at the end of a date.
In another interview with THR back in September, Molaro discussed Sheldon’s relationship with Leonard now that he and Penny are married. In that context Molaro elaborated about possibly bringing back Bob Newhart’s character.
“That is something that has been in the back of my mind. And that’s something that I hope will work out. We adore Bob and we are so proud that he is a member of our family and yes, somewhere in here is a fantastic opportunity for that.”
Stephen Merchant has been cast as Amy’s new love interest, Dave, and the episode synopsis for November 19, “The Platonic Permutation,” says Amy and Sheldon attempt to hang out as friends. Musk also appears as himself in that episode at a soup kitchen where Howard, Bernadette, Raj and Emily go to volunteer on Thanksgiving. Analeigh Tipton is set to guest-star on tomorrow night’s episode, “The Mystery Date Observation,” when Sheldon goes in search of a new relationship.
For fans waiting to see a reconciliation of “the Shamy,” it appears it won’t happen just yet.
The Big Bang Theory is back to its regular Thursday night slot. It airs at 8 p.m. on CBS.
[Main photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment]