Jim Parsons by Monty Brinton/CBS Jim Parsons by Monty Brinton/CBS

Leonard and Penny embarking on their first date may have been the big "cliffhanger," but make no mistake, Sheldon's not-exactly-peripheral role in the unlikely romance plays a big part in The Big Bang Theory's Season 2 premiere (Monday at 8 pm/ET, on CBS). Jim Parsons shares a non-scientific peek at what's ahead - including, possibly, an incendiary hook-up for Sheldon himself! - Matt Mitovich

TVGuide.com: Before we get going, I want to say that I'm sorry you didn't get an Emmy nomination. A lot of us here were pulling for you.
Jim Parsons:
Well, that's very sweet. Thank you very much. But frankly I'm just happy we got to come back for Season 2! [ Laughs]

TVGuide.com: What's different about this season?
I'd say that from a working standpoint, it's been easy to get back into it. It was a relief, and felt like coming home again. Another thing that changed - and you see it when you're [on the set] versus watching on TV - is the studio audience that comes in is markedly different. They know the characters. They start laughing sooner in the taping....

TVGuide.com: Like, if you get a Wolowitz-at-home scene, you know his mother will be screaming for him.
Exactly. There's not that having to catch up and think, "OK, that's how that person speaks" and whatever. The laughs start to come before you've even hit the funny. The studio audience senses where it's going, and that has really upped the fun, I have to say. It's invigorating.

TVGuide.com: In the season opener, Sheldon gets pulled into the Leonard-Penny romantic situation in short order.
Because if it wasn't going to go badly enough, they had to add him to up the "pain quotient" of that relationship.

TVGuide.com: After all, Sheldon, perhaps more than anyone else, could not care less about what happens between them.
Exactly. But there's not another single other person she could go to. She could go to Rajesh or Wolowitz, but they're not going to be any help either. [ Laughs] I really enjoy any time that they stick Sheldon and Penny in a scene together.

TVGuide.com: They simply do not speak the same language.
Of the five major cast members, they are the two opposite ends of the pole, the north and the south. They are the least likely to understand what the other is saying.

TVGuide.com: We also learn that one of Sheldon's "things" is that he can't keep a secret - at least not when he hasn't first signed off on any intent to keep said secret.
[ Laughs] It's really nice when you read a script and they throw down a major character gauntlet like that. "Oh, OK Sheldon can't keep a secret."

TVGuide.com: Though his logic is sound: Give me the opportunity to agree to keep the secret before you tell me what it is.
It is completely logical. You need the right to say, "No, I don't want to hear it. I have to deal with this person too much in my daily life that it would be impossible for me for this never to come up. Leonard could ask me a pointed question at some point dealing with exactly what you're talking about, which will force me to lie... or run away." Before you sign the contract of secret-keeping, you need to know what the terms are.

TVGuide.com: What other geek-tastic capers are coming up? I understand that Sheldon helps Penny with an addiction....
Yes, she becomes addicted to online gaming, which apparently can be a serious addiction for young people. I personally have no experience in my own life, so I had to learn what buttons to push on the PC. She, for various reasons in her life, needs to latch onto something that gives her a sense of self-worth. I suppose there could be worse addictions out there, but this one does spiral out of control.

TVGuide.com: What about any romantic interests for Sheldon?
Well, nobody has told me anything specific.... It's funny - and I'm grateful! - because very often information about our future I find out from other interviews. For example, [ Big Bang cocreator] Chuck [Lorre] told TV Guide that somebody was going to become completely fascinated with Sheldon and think that he "walks on water." Of course, everybody sees it but Sheldon. Even that, though, doesn't necessarily say that she's in love with him. It might just be idolatry. I've been speculating that the intense hatred and sparks that fly between Sheldon and Leslie Winkle (played by new series regular Sara Gilbert) might be leading toward something....

TVGuide.com: That was my very next question! "Might their animosity erupt into spontaneous, unbridled and illogical passion?"
My theory is where there's smoke, there's fire. You don't have such passionate, passionate angry feelings for another being unless the actual opposite is also lying there on the inside. Sara has done two out of the first three [episodes], and it's just been nasty. We talked about the fact that by having her around more, she's a wonderful barometer to judge the Penny-Sheldon relationship. When there are scenes with Penny and Sheldon and scenes with Leslie and Sheldon in the same episode, you see, "No, no Leslie hates him. Penny actually is quite fond of him. She just doesn't know how to communicate with him!"

TVGuide.com: Any last message to fans?
Thank you for watching. It's a pleasure to do this show, and I hope it's enjoyable.

Big Bang Video Q&As:
" Kaley Cuoco (Penny)
" Johnny Galecki (Leonard)
" Jim Parsons (Sheldon)
" Kunal Nayyar (Rajesh)
" Simon Helberg (Wolowitz)