Judge Cynthia Boris has some numb3rs for you: Season 2 = 91 out of 100. That's an "A" for those of you keeping track at home.
Our reviews of Numb3rs: The First Season (published May 30th, 2006), Numb3rs: The Fifth Season (published December 3rd, 2009), Numb3rs: The Sixth Season (published August 12th, 2010), and Numb3rs: The Third Season (published September 26th, 2007) are also available.
"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.
Facts of the Case
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.
• "Bettor or Worse"
• "Calculated Risk"
• "Soft Target"
• "In Plain Sight"
• "Bones of Contention"
• "The O.G."
• "The Running Man"
• "All's Fair"
• "Dark Matter"
• "Guns and Roses"
• "Hot Shot"
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.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
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!
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Scales of Justice
• 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
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