Saturday, October 4, 2008

Numb3ers: “High Exposure” Low Results

Numb3rs is one of those shows that I watch regularly, but I am not exactly quite sure why. I suppose the premise of the show itself – using a math genius to help solve crimes – is interesting. The problem is I can’t seem to stand the math genius, Charlie Epps (David Krumholtz). But more on this later.

Last night the season premier of Numb3rs aired, titled “High Exposure.” The story picks up some time after the events in the season finale, “When Worlds Collide.” In that episode, Charlie gets in trouble by leaking information to other scientists that belonged to man whose intentions with the information was in question by Homeland Security.

But the season opener takes the easy way out, basically glossing over Charlie’s trouble and his arrest in the finale, by making reference to the fact that he wound up just losing his FBI clearance for his actions. Of course, this loss of clearance creates problems for his FBI agent brother Don (Rob Morrow), who relies on Charlie’s math skills to help him to solve crimes.

As I mentioned last December in a review I wrote about the episode ”Chinese Box”, this show still has a tendency to insert very complicated math or even technology to solve what may be very simple problems. There are times this adds to the interest, but there are also times when I can’t believe they took such convoluted measures to solve a simple issue. They did it again in this season opener.

In this episode, “High Exposure,” two climbers are killed, and an uncut diamond is found. It is believed the climbers accidentally discovered a small plane crash of someone who stole the diamond, and someone seems to be looking for the plane crash and the rest of diamonds. During the course of the investigation, the team has to enlist Charlie’s help because they seem helpless to think out the problem without a math professor. At one point, they need Charlie just to obtain satellite imagery that they couple with topographical maps and a projected flight path of the plane to find a crashed airplane carrying uncut diamonds. Leading up to that was seeing Don in the mountains, with him watching three men holding two other climbers at gunpoint. Don uses a radio he found to distract 2 of the men, and he sneaks up on the third to help the hostages get away. The rest of the team, who is also out looking for the crashed plane, gets worried when they can’t reach Don by their radios and then they hear gunfire. What was silly about the scenario in question is that at one point Agent Ian Edgerton (Lou Diamond Phillips) says he need to take a helicopter someplace that will only take 8 minutes – and he goes to fetch Charlie for his help, and gets him to the FBI so he can work his magic with the satellite imagery and maps to find where the plan landed. Excuse me, but if he had a helicopter right there, why couldn’t they fly over the immediate area and just look for a bunch of people running and shooting, while someone else could radio to get Charlie for his brain power? It just seemed that they made the situation much more complicated than needed.

But the big annoyance to this show, oddly enough, is Charlie himself. I was getting pretty tired of his whiny, petulant behavior last season, and he seems to be showing a touch of it still. He seems to be lost because he can’t work with the FBI. Yet when the Assistant United States Attorney Robin Brooks (Michelle Nolden) offers to help him get his clearance back, he seems resistant. It isn’t until the end, sitting around the table with Don, Nolden, and Amita (Navi Rawat) that he gets the urge to fight to get his clearance back, only when he knows Don is OK with him doing so.

The show does have some good things going for it. Agents David Sinclair (Alimi Ballard) and Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno) make a great pair of agents. The new agent Nikki Betancourt (Sophina Brown, from the thankfully canceled CBS show “Shark’) who replaced Agent Megan Reeves (Diane Farr) seems like an acceptable substitute. And Peter MacNicol continues to shine in his role of Dr. Larry Fleinhardt. In fact, I think I like his input much better than Charlie’s.

All in all, it was just an OK start for the season. I wish we could have seen a little more of the melodrama that may have ensued from Charlie’s arrest in the season finale. After all, they made such a big deal about it then. Maybe they are planning a more detailed story on the issue as he tries to get his clearance returned. Either way, their treatment of the subject was a disappointment.

As a side note, we don’t refer to the show as ”Numbers” in our household, we pronounce it “Num-three-ers” because that’s how CBS writes the title. I know it’s a math show but the novelty of the title wore off on me long ago.

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