Paramount // 2005 // 1037 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Cynthia Boris (Retired) // November 1st, 2006
"Younger brothers can definitely be a trigger." -- Don, "Bettor or Worse"
We all still use math everyday. But maybe now we don't take it so much for granted.
Don and Charlie are brothers. Don (Rob Morrow, Northern Exposure) is a senior agent with the Los Angeles bureau of the FBI. Charlie (David Krumholtz, The Santa Clause 2, Serenity) is a genius math professor at a local university. Together they take on some of the toughest crimes in the city while still squabbling like the siblings they are. This high tech cop show uses a variety of interesting camera angles and digital techniques to incorporate Charlie's theoretical world with Don's world of violence and human emotion. And it's as much about family as it is about the crimes. That's what makes the show so very watchable week after week.
There are a few cast changes for this second season. Judd Hirsch (Taxi) is still on board as the boys' father, Alan Eppes. Larry (Peter MacNicol, Ally McBeal) is still around as Charlie's mentor. Though it looked like she might leave, Charlie's pseudo-romantic interest Amita (Navi Rawat) is still on board as well. Over at the FBI, Sabrina Lloyd's Terry was written out of the series and replaced with a profiler, Megan Reeves, (Diane Farr, Rescue Me). David (Alimi Ballard) gets some well-deserved airtime. He's partnered with ex-military wildcard Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno, The Rage: Carrie 2).
Here's a look at the episodes in this season.
* "Judgement Call"
This overly complex story about the murder of a judge's wife is a poor season opener. Keep a scorecard handy to keep track of the characters as you watch.
* "Bettor or Worse"
This would have been my pick for an opener. Snazzy episode about a jeweler's family being kidnapped to facilitate the robbery of his store. All is not as it seems in this clever tale.
Another more complicated than it needs to be story about a singer who has a stalker or two.
* "Calculated Risk"
Solid tale of a whistleblower who is murdered in front of her own child.
Slow moving tale about the possible assassination of a young Columbian exile.
* "Soft Target"
Scary episode that reminds us how easily a bioterrorist attack could bring down a city. Good stuff.
Home invasion robberies are at the core of this story.
* "In Plain Sight"
This one is personal for Megan when one of her operatives is killed during a drug bust gone wrong but this story takes a turn you won't expect. The commentary here is just too funny once Farr and Krumholtz get going.
A take on the drug tampering scares of the past. Again, a bit convoluted for my taste.
* "Bones of Contention"
They were reaching for this tale about the discovery of Native America bones and the murder of a museum researcher.
Tight episode about an arsonist loose in the city. Features Bill Nye the Science Guy who also helps with the interesting commentary on this one.
* "The O.G."
LA gang story featuring Will Patton. Fair to middling.
* "Double Down"
Interesting tale about robberies at a casino.
She appears to be the victim of a brutal serial killer who tortures his victims but they couldn't be more wrong. Nice twists in this one.
* "The Running Man"
A theft on Charlie's campus has Don worried about the possibility of bio-terrorism.
Complex story about an army recruitment center bombing that fits the pattern of a thirty year old crime.
* "Mind Games"
Facts and numbers Charlie has a hard time excepting the use of a psychic on a murder investigation.
* "All's Fair"
Connections to terrorism are at the core of this tale about a murdered Iraqi woman.
* "Dark Matter"
Very compelling episode that has Charlie plotting the trail of a group of school shooters. Somber, as it should be, but a great episode.
* "Guns and Roses"
Another dark story about a former girl friend of Don's, an ATF agent who committed suicide...or did she?
Excellent story that leaps off the page when a suspect shoots up the FBI office while Charlie is visiting. The investigation is only half the story as Charlie tries to cope with his near death experience.
Bank fraud is at the core of this story that Don dealing with his own account shutdown.
The death of several Asian girls leads the team to a sex-slave ring.
* "Hot Shot"
A serial killer is leaving his victims in a carefully arranged position in their own driveways. Can the team stop him before another woman bites the dust?
Numb3rs grabbed me from the very first episode. I enjoyed the pace, the puzzle, the look of the series -- but most of all I was grabbed by the brother relationship. I have a history with brother shows, such as Bonanza, Simon & Simon, and Supernatural. There's just something about brotherly love/angst that floats my boat. But as much as I loved the series, I just didn't see how it could last! How could you come up with seasons and seasons worth of crimes that can be solved with math? I needn't have worried, because they're doing it and then some.
Numb3rs is not a show you can watch while you're reading a magazine or working on the computer. If you want to understand the crime and solution you have to pay close attention. Lucky for them, you'll want to. The show's inventive use of dueling color schemes (the warm rich tones of Charlie's world to the cool, bleak colors of Don's), the intriguing characters, and unusual storylines will grab you. But you could also enjoy Numb3rs with your eyes closed. The writers have a wonderful way with dialogue and they don't dumb it down. Sure, they use practical events to explain Charlie's theories (such as using the soap and pepper trick to explain scatter patterns), but I'm good with that. But think about this -- how many shows on TV compare romances to dark matter, or speak of Feynman and Oppenheimer as if they were contemporary movie stars? How many mainstream TV shows teach you about Pascal's Principle and Cognitive Emergence Theory? Sure, I could learn all this stuff on The Discovery Channel, but it wouldn't stick with me the way it does after watching an episode of Numb3rs.
Numb3rs makes me feel smart and I like that. Now...let's look a the DVD.
The extras on this set are just terrific. First the commentaries, which are out of control! They cover seven episodes; look at the list of people that lend their voices to one or more: Robert Port, John Behring, Barry Schindel, Rob Morrow, Miller Tobin, Diane Farr, David Krumholtz, Sean Crouch, Norberto Barba, Bill Nye, Andrew Dettmann, Nicolas Falacci, Andrew Black, Alimi Ballard, Will Patton, Cheryl Heuton, Don McGill, Peter Ellis and Mark Llewellyn.
I like these commentaries because they're very episode specific. They describe how certain scenes were conceived or shot and there's quite a bit of humorous banter whenever Krumholtz is on board.
On disc one you'll find an amusing blooper reel. This is one of those that was put together properly, grouping the mishaps by themes. The show is so serious its great to see the cast laughing and joking and dancing -- yes dancing -- and then there's Morrow giving Krumholtz a "lift." Short but fun.
Next David Krumholtz is let loose with a video camera so he can record his own "behind the scenes" feature. It's a quirky piece that shows quite a different side of Krumholtz, including the inside of cavities that you don't normally see.
Nicolas Falacci's behind-the-scenes featurette is a still gallery of photos he shot during a variety of episodes. There are some interesting photos here but generally I find still galleries a waste (there's already so much of this on the Internet) and I had trouble paging through all the stills.
Finally we have "Crunching Numb3rs: Season 2." This featurette shows you all of the steps it takes to get a story from conception to, quite literally, the fan reaction at the end of the show. I know quite a bit about production and still I was overwhelmed by the number of people who put their mark on an episode before it's done. You'll see the prop people, the story conferences, the actors learning how to work with squibs going off near their faces. It's a true "Behind the Scenes" featurette, not just a bunch of interviews with clips, which is what you usually get. Oh, and they were fan-smart enough to put a spoiler warning at the beginning of the featurette.
The packaging is always nice on these sets, great use of a plastic slipcase that completes the cast picture on the cover. It's a tri-fold digipack with episode titles printed on the flaps and (yeah!) on the discs themselves. Fancy pictures are lovely but titles on the discs are so much more practical.
A great navigation screen mimics the show's opening credit segment but the fine print is a bit hard to read. I also like that when you choose an episode you're given the option of playing commentaries when available at that point. You don't have to navigate to a separate menu listing to check for commentary options.
There's really nothing to dislike here. So many people predicted failure during the first season of this show but it came back stronger than ever. No further questions, your honor.
I hate math. I'm terrible at it, and yet this weekly sojourn into the world of X+Z=Bloodspatter has me totally fascinated.
Before it can pass judgment the court must review two hundred pages of statistical analysis, six pie charts, twelve graphs and take a lesson in how to make origami flowers. Are you busy, Charlie? I could really use your help!
Review content copyright © 2006 Cynthia Boris; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 1037 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio commentary by Robert Port, John Behring, Barry Schindel, Rob Morrow, Miller Tobin, Diane Farr, David Krumholtz, Sean Crouch, Norberto Barba, Bill Nye, Andrew Dettmann, Nicolas Falacci, Andrew Black, Alimi Ballard, Will Patton, Cheryl Heuton, Don McGill, Peter Ellis and Mark Llewellyn on select episodes
* Blooper Reel
* Behind the Scenes with Nicolas Falacci
* Behind the Scenes with David Krumholtz
* "Crunching Numb3rs: Season 2" featurette
* Official CBS Site
* Numb3rs.org Fan Site
* Rob Morrow Offical Site