Kal Penn has played his share of doctors (House, How I Met Your Mother) and stoners (the Harold & Kumar films), and he'll star in CBS's new comedy We Are Men this fall. He's currently hosting Discovery's new competition series The Big Brain Theory: Pure Genius (Wednesdays, 10/9c). The show presents its contestants with seemingly impossible engineering challenges, such as stopping a set of explosives from detonating and shooting down a 20-pound missile. Penn and executive producer Craig Piligian explain the smarts behind The Big Brain Theory.
TV Guide Magazine: I have time to watch one more show. Why should it be yours?
Kal Penn: There's nothing on the air like Big Brain Theory right now, so be ahead of the curve on what the people want! Secondly, it makes you feel a little smarter, a little more patriotic, and a little more badass. I know that you want to feel badass. So go ahead and watch.
Craig Piligian: Our show may actually increase your IQ.
TV Guide Magazine: Who should be watching?
Penn: Anyone who loves the idea of American ingenuity and innovation. Anyone who knows we're the best and the brightest and wants to see that trend increase. Anyone who wants to watch us blow stuff up.
Piligian: People who like to be stimulated. Intellectually, that is.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don't watch your show?
Piligian: You'd be actively contributing to the decline of intelligent discourse and, eventually, to the collapse of civilization itself. But, you know, no pressure.
TV Guide Magazine: What's the best thing anyone has said or written about The Big Brain Theory?
Penn: "Dude, this looks legit. Finally a reality show with and about smart people. I can't wait."
Piligian: "Who knew Kal Penn was so smart?"
TV Guide Magazine: What's an alternate title?
Penn: Top Engineer.
Piligian: Sometimes, It Does Take A Rocket Scientist.
TV Guide Magazine: "Of all the reasons Kal wanted to host the show, the biggest one was ______."
Penn: I wanted to be part of something that highlights how awesome and cool innovation and technology is.
TV Guide Magazine: Finish this sentence: "If you like _______, you'll love our show."
Penn: Gadgets and awesomeness.
Piligian: Option 1: Sex. Or, pizza. Option 2: Problem solving, the application of complex theoretical concepts to tangible high-stakes situations, stuff catching on fire.
TV Guide Magazine: What show would you like to do a crossover episode with?
Penn: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.
Piligian: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. The family could be guest judges. I like to think they'd surprise people.
TV Guide Magazine: How will your show change the face of TV as we know it?
Penn: It's the first time we've had a positive, awesome, fun reality/competition show that highlights something good. It's also insanely entertaining and fun. I think this could go a long way in starting a trend. Boom!
TV Guide Magazine: Come up with a premise for the spin-off.
Piligian: The Small Brain Theory: Total Idiot. But a few other reality producers probably have similar projects in development.