Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day One Hundred and Six - Numb3rs: Pilot, "Shiny, shiny math... plus murder!"

Should more math be shown?

Actually, no, it probably shouldn't... as that would probably make for bad television. Boring television. Inept television.

Because I've been watching Bones lately to have some sort of cathartic release (that still hasn't come, by the way, but I can hope), Netflix's algorithms have decided that more post-millennial police procedurals are what I need, what I crave, what I desire. Luckily for me, they haven't suggested any of the CSI's or Law & Order: SVU yet, but the week is young and I've just taken a chance on Numb3rs, so maybe that will bump the math a little.

Now, full disclosure, I did actually catch a fair amount of the early seasons of Numb3rs back when it was on the air. It was entertaining, but I mainly stayed because of its cast (namely the extremely attractive Navi Rawat). I loved Rob Morrow as Joel in Northern Exposure (now there's a title I'm extremely worried about going back to decades later) and David Krumholtz's film career has generally made me happy (if I forget The Santa Clause... darnit, remembered again).

Coming back to the pilot, I found myself reengaged. The pilot was actually quality stuff... almost worthy of a film. I was actually surprised at how well it all gelled together. This was especially the case because the pilot was a lot tighter than I remember the series as a whole.

When I was watching Numb3rs back in the day, it felt much more rote and disingenuous as the episodes piled up and story after story, crime after crime, had to be solved in flashier math-based ways. I think that was the problem with the series.

The pilot really would've worked as just a movie... all they had to do was amp the character interactions by about thirty more pages and BAM... they would've had a great crime thriller. Instead, what they have is a pretty high quality pilot with a lot of that character drama missing, waiting to be filled out as the series progressed.

And that's what you want in a pilot, right? Great chemistry that you can exploit later? The hint of a romance between Krumholtz and Rawat... family tension subtext between Morrow, Krumholtz, and Hirsch... etc., etc., etc..

Wow, I'm just so conflicted.

I want Numb3rs to be a movie without the pressures of a weekly procedural (unique hooks, teased personal drama, satisfying episodic conclusions)... but it gave me everything a good weekly show would want to build on, then rarely delivered in the remaining episodes outside the pilot.

Well, let me couch that... eventually Numb3rs DID deliver on the romance with Rawat and beefed up Peter MacNicol's role (I really just love that guy to death)... but, in the pilot, they were compressed and only hinted at.

And, I will say this for the pilot... it didn't fall into the trap of most procedurals of having the suspect be obvious (or even NON-obvious in the background). They waited till the last minute to show you his face and he definitely wasn't a background character.

Kudos for that.

Overall, I got bored with Numb3rs as a series... but the pilot had pretty much everything I could've asked for. I find it a pity that it wasn't made into a movie and that the series didn't really deliver on the promise of the pilot, but hey... even at its worst, it was still better than CSI, NCIS, and SVU.

But, guess who's still on the air after all these years?

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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