TV Review - Scorpion

Just like Bones, this series is also about a real-life genius who helps with the investigation of crimes. This show, written by Nick Santora, takes its queue from the case files and actual person, Walter O'Brien. Obviously, a lot of it is exaggerated and fudged. Walter O'Brien is a former child prodigy from Ireland. He reportedly has the 4th highest IQ in the world. O'Brien developed a facial recognition process, which caught the Boston Marathon bombers. His company is Scorpion Computer Services. If you wanted to whittle down O'Brien, he's basically a super computer hacker.

Elyes Gabel plays Walter. His company consists of three other people. All of whom are anti-social in some way. They don't make friends or relate to other humans easily. Their respect for Walter seems to hold them together. Yet, each of the three has their own very respectable ability.

Eddie Kaye Thomas plays Toby, a behaviorist. He's really good at reading body language and making predictions. Ari Stidham plays Sylvester, the human calculator. He's like Rain Man, only he's not autistic. He is OCD and has a photographic memory. Jadyn Wong plays Happy, a mechanical prodigy. She understands machines, electronic or otherwise, like the back of her hand.

As the show progresses, more about Walter's team might be explored, but for the majority these people are not much more than their abilities. As such, the show can feel a little clunky. It's like Santora took a character like Sherlock Holmes as realized in CBS' Elementary and divided him into four pieces: Walter, Toby, Sylvester and Happy. It forces the show to do a juggling act with all these people that it doesn't always succeed at doing.

Santora adds another spinning plate in Katharine McPhee who plays Paige, a waitress who connects with Walter because he recognizes her son Ralph is a genius too and could very much be a member of his team a decade or so from now. While everyone else is rather anti-social, Paige is the most empathetic and the one who provides counseling to and for the others in Walter's team.

O'Brien is quoted as saying, "I'm left-brain dominant, so anxiety and nervousness don't affect me; most emotions don't." He's basically like a Vulcan from Star Trek, or a human robot, cold and logical. Paige is there as the warmth and the intuitive. Going back to the Elementary comparison, she's the Joan Watson to Walter and company's Sherlock Holmes.

The problem is that Joan Watson in the CBS series is a doctor and grows into a competent detective rather quickly, and believably so. Paige has far less to do here and can't all of a sudden be a genius, so she's far less significant. At least, in Episode 3, Toby points out Paige's pointlessness, so the writers are aware of this albatross. Robert Patrick who plays Agent Cabe Gallo is not as much of an albatross but is similarly pointless, at least as a series regular. I suppose he functions as Charlie Townsend from the series Charlie's Angels here.

Another problem is the bad guys or adversaries. Shows like Elementary and The Mentalist immediately developed worthy villains to puzzle the protagonists. The villains or the challenges for Walter and company don't seem worthy of their talents. All of it comes across too easy or rote. It's either that or there's simply so much you can do with a character who basically has to type on a computer for any and everything.

In Episode 3, there's a comedic moment that has Walter and his team try to be like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but fail miserably as they stick out like sore thumbs. They're more bumbling in action scenes than potential spies or super-heroes. That could be a good note to play as the series progresses.

Otherwise, if you visit the real-life web site of Walter's Scorpion Computer Services, the company is more about helping businesses make more money or become more efficient. Instead of being solely about chasing after terrorists, the show could find more intrigue in the business world. Yet, after three episodes, the show has already stretched believability on that front, and this is even with Robert Patrick who used to be on The X-Files. Really, the show jumped the shark in its first episode.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated TV-14-V.
Running Time: 1 hr.
Mondays at 9PM on CBS.


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