Let Q = Quality and C = Consistency. Q+C=Numb3rs.
Okay that is sloppy but you get the point. Numb3rs is proof that if producers and networks produce and distribute smart product it will find an audience. Numb3rs is a weekly formulaic police procedural that is broadcast weekly on CBS that should be required viewing for anyone who loves police drama.
The premise of Numb3rs is one of the most unique to ever hit the small screen. An F.B.I. agent, Don Eppes (played by Rob Morrow) working out of the Los Angeles field office leaves some investigation materials on the dining room table of his father’s house which his mathematician brother Charlie (David Krumholtz) stumbles upon and starts to formulate a hypothesis on how to find the criminal responsible for a series of rapes.
The cast of Numb3rs is one of its strongest features. Veteran actor Judd Hirsh plays Don and Charlie’s father Allan Eppes a retired former city planner who has been widowed for some time. Peter MacNicol plays Dr. Larry Fleinhardt Dr. Eppes best friend and a physicist who is always exploring cosmological problems and looks at life and problems in a much different way than Charlie’s logical approach. An interesting and underplayed character is that of graduate student Amita Ramanjuan played by Navi Rawat who is at the same time an interesting possible romantic interest for Charlie and a burgeoning equal to him in the field of mathematics. Worthy of particular note is the exceptional Sabrina Lloyd as Terry Lake a profiler who is essentially the only soft science / medical arts voice in the show. Alimi Ballard as David Sinclair is consistent but he doesn’t get quite as much character development as you would have expected in this first season.
Numb3rs: The Complete First Season is a 4 DVD, 13 episode collection had, not surprisingly, a brilliant first season as is often the case with the first year of a hit television show (10 million viewers a week in its first year). There are of course episodes of special note. The Pilot of the series is strong because it establishes the characters and the template for how future shows will progress but the issues tackled in subsequent shows are just as compelling. Structural Corruption is a wonderfully intriguing story about a young engineering student who thinks he has discovered a major flaw in a downtown L.A. office building. Prime Suspect is an interesting primer on cryptography and number theory as it applies to primes – it is also a fascinating kidnapping story. Potentially the best of the season though was the episode entitled Sacrifice in which a researcher trying to apply sabermetrics to the general population to determine how resources should be allocated among the citizens is found murdered and all his research destroyed. The episode has a lot of very relevant social commentary about the responsibility of scientists to consider how their work might be used.
Special features in the first season DVD collection are mostly uninteresting with the exception of the featurette called Do The Math: The Caltech Analysis in which one of the mathematicians (who is also a professor of math at Caltech) talks about his involvement in the show and his favourite moments in the show. The Blooper Reel is entirely uninteresting as are the audition reels unless you are a really, really, really die hard fan.
In short Numb3rs: The Complete First Season is now in my permanent DVD collection.
Crunching Numb3rs: Season One
Point Of Origin: Inside the Unaired Pilot
Audition Reels With Optional commentary by Mark Saks
Do The Math: the Caltech Analysis
Charlievision: FX Sequences 1.0