Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day One Hundred and Eighty-one - Numb3rs: Season 1, Episode 8, "And, thusly, we fall into the procedural rut."

Numb3rs isn't alone in the company of shows that get comfortable in their routines and overlook the pitfalls they walk into as a 20+-episode-a-year procedural. BONES, however strong and admirable its quirky, female lead, is a much worse example of this sort of thing.

Still, I have to wonder what the writers were thinking by overlooking the obvious and being so damnably blatant with their true killer.

This episode follows Don and Charlie as they try and track down a killer who may have let an innocent man take the fall for their own crime, thanks to coincidences and flawed science. It's a case that rattles Don's chain as well as our own confidence in the certainties of forensic science.

There's actually a real pertinent message about the faith we put in our experts to be had here... if it wasn't muffled but the inane Keystone Kops routine that the FBI goes through in this episode from almost the first minute on the scene. It's weird how incompetent writing can overshadow shoddy science.

I speak, of course, of the actual killer.

Not to spoil, but like so many procedural writers before them, this episode's authors made it so the true culprit was painfully obvious from almost the moment you met him. Not because he was an other and not necessarily because he seems innocuous and was introduced early (that being a standard trope), but because any rational person would begin to question him the moment his story came into doubt.

When said witness calls into question another suspects alibi... which may or may not be solid, said witness should've been followed up, but no, while the rest of the audience (I hope) knew, just knew, what was going on off-screen, the rest of the characters are off chasing fruitless leads.

Then there's the oblique evidence... why does no one ever make the connection of the garrote wire when we're shown quite a few instances of it throughout the episode WHICH CONNECT THE WITNESS TO BOTH CRIMES!


I get just a bit hot under the collar when supposedly smarter shows dumb things down to this level and show willful ignorance to their own clues all for the sake of filling time. Cause that's the sad fact of this episode of Numb3rs. If anyone had made the connection between the witness' profession and the easy access to wire it allows, the show would've been over in ten minutes flat.

But we can't have that with an hour long, prime time procedural, can we?

I think the only saving grace for this particular 40-some-odd minutes (Netflix doesn't have commercials, remember) of mystery entertainment is the mild phase of healthy self-doubt that Don goes through. Sure, it's muted by the sheer incompetence that the freakin' FBI shows this episode, but hey... at least Charlie manages to insert some well needed doubt into the certitude of the bureaucratic machine that is our Justice System.

One or two bad episodes do not a horrible series make, though... I got my nice little moment of Peter MacNicol and a brief bit with the ever beautiful Navi Rawat (though, she didn't really get to shine as a character, just as a hood ornimant this epi >:( ).

As always, still better than BONES, I just wish they hadn't made it so damned easy (that's a Tobolowsky reference, btw).

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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