Michael Ausiello
November 13, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

Big Love returns with a taboo-shattering bang
When Big Love comes back for its fourth season on Jan. 10, it’ll be cashing in on some of its biggest untold stories. At the top of the list: the taboo attraction between Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) and stepson Ben (Douglas Smith). ”We have flirted for three years with [that] relationship,” says series co-creator Mark V. Olsen. ”And this year we finally decided to pay it off.” Also on the forbidden-romance front, closet case Alby (Matt Ross) will find love in the unlikeliest (or is that likeliest) of places: an ”ex-gay” therapy group. ”He stumbles into a relationship with a guy [who] is struggling with his urges, as is Alby,” Olsen explains. But the big coming-out story will involve Bill (Bill Paxton), who decides to run for state senator. ”His goal once elected is to put himself and his family out [as the] public face of polygamy,” says Olsen. ”And he can’t be impeached for that. Polygamy is technically a misdemeanor in Utah.” You in? Yeah, me too. Big time.

CBS Crunches Numb3rs season
Numb3rs fans can count on closure. That’s the word from producers after CBS’ decision to trim the show’s season from 22 to 16 episodes — a harbinger of cancellation if ever there was one. The drama’s co-creator Cheryl Heuton says ep 16 (slated to air in February) will serve as a series finale, ”but it won’t create story situations that would hamper us if [CBS] should decide to order more.”

SCOOPLETS

My Big theory: This will be genius!
The Big Bang Theory‘s Dec. 7 installment has ”classic Shenny” written all over it. In the episode, Penny (Kaley Cuoco) asks Sheldon (Jim Parsons) to teach her physics in order to get closer to Leonard (Johnny Galecki), and — shocker! — he agrees! ”Sheldon is confident he can teach her,” says exec producer Chuck Lorre. ”[He] draws his inspiration from the researchers who taught sign language to Koko the gorilla.” In other BBT news, Christine Baranski will reprise her Emmy-nominated role as Leonard’s mom in a January episode. Since both BBT and The Good Wife — which Baranski currently stars on — are on CBS, scheduling was no prob.

New drama for Der and Mer
With Ellen Pompeo firmly entrenched on Grey’s Anatomy again after her maternity leave, the show is moving Meredith and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) back where they belong: front and center. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad: ”They will face some relationship challenges, many of them work-oriented, in the second half of the season,” reveals exec producer Shonda Rhimes. Despite the looming strife, Rhimes shoots down rumors that the newly married-via-Post-it pair are heading for a nasty split. ”I don’t know how many times [I] can say ‘Derek and Meredith are together forever’ and have anybody hear it,” she sighs. ”I can only reassure so much. In order to [produce] a drama, you need to have some drama. Whether or not two people are meant for one another doesn’t mean that things aren’t going to happen to challenge their relationship.” For the record, I totally heard you the first time.

Ausiello digs up fresh dirt on what you’re watching, every day on EW.COM

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