Numb3rs, to give it its preferred logotype, Cheryl Heuton and Nicholas Falacci have created an almost perfect machine, taking the classic eccentric detective series, whose roots go back at least as far as the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle but which is perhaps best represented on US television by
Columbo, and combining that with the ensemble workplace/family drama, which came to its mature form on US tv with such 1980s series as
Hill Street Blues and
St. Elsewhere. In addition to good-to-excellent scripts, sly casting and performances and often impressive production design, the two extra strokes of brilliance in the makeup of
Numb3rs are the gimmicky but nonetheless enjoyable use of applied mathematics in the characters' crime-solving and, less obviously, the splitting of the single eccentric detective into a team of eccentrics, including making at least some of the FBI agents at the heart of the show nearly as odd as the mathematicians and physicists (and a city-planner paterfamilias) who aid them. That the Scott brothers, Tony and Ridley, were willing to co-produce the series and occasionally, as with tonight's fourth season premiere directed by Tony, to take an even greater hands-on interest, is hardly surprising, beyond that a pair of somewhat competitive brothers are the heart of the show. Even where
Numb3rs is unbelievable, and it is frequently in small and sometimes large ways, it remains entertaining.
Tonight's episode picks up from last season's finale and its quasi-cliffhanger, wherein an ex-military member of the FBI unit directed by Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) was discovered to be a traitor, selling sensitive data to the Chinese government, and perhaps willing to kill to protect his secret. Disgraced and incarcerated agent Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno) somewhat unsurprisingly turns out to be not truly a "mole," but apparently a triple-agent deeply undercover to help ferret out some true double-agents in the US Department of Justice. One Mason Lancer (no relation), played with sufficient dead-eyed menace by Val Kilmer, is flushed out thus.
As often on the series, there wasn't too much sophisticated detective work involved in these events, and some of the law enforcement practice displayed is questionable at best, such as when an attempt is made to recapture Granger and his old Army buddy at a subway station with police employed on only one side of the tracks, allowing the fugitives to easily escapeeven given that Epps and his inner circle are uncertain as to whether they should let Granger remain at large, surely someone among the other police agents at the subway station would've asked, Say, shouldn't some of us be over on the other platform, too? But the interaction between the academics and the primary FBI agents under Epps, including the characters played by Diane Farr and Peter MacNicol (for varying reasons missing from too many recent episodes), is often the greatest strength in
Numb3rs, and so too in tonight's. Farr is particularly good with bits of business that add texture to the drama, as when her Megan Reeves character doesn't quite suppress her irritation when mathematician Charlie Epps (David Krumholtz) pulls an ice cube from her glass of tea to use as a visual aide. Tony Scott's contributions to "Trust Metric" include the unusually large number of jump cuts and quick edits even for this series, which will often engage in those for the sequences set in the Los Angeles FBI headquarters, usually bathed in a blue light (or at least shot through a blue filter), versus the relatively sedate editing and camera-movement in the more warmly-lit sequences set at the Eppes family home or at the CalTech analog that serves as the home base for Eppes and his fellow academics, including computer scientist and romantic partner Amita Ramanujan (Navi Rawat).
In Numb3rs to give it its preferred logotype Cheryl Heuton and Nicholas Falacci have created an almost perfect machine taking the classic eccentric detective series whose roots go back at least as far as the Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle but which is perhaps best represented on US television by Columbo and combining that with the ensemble workplacefamily drama which came to its mature form on US tv with such 1980s series as Hill Street Blues and St Elsewhere In addition to good-to-excellent scripts sly casting and performances and often impressive production design the two extra strokes of brilliance in the makeup of Numb3rs are the gimmicky but nonetheless enjoyable use of applied mathematics in the characters crime-solving and less obviously the splitting of the single eccentric detective into a team of eccentrics including making at least some of the FBI agents at the heart of the show nearly as odd as the mathematicians and physicists and a c