User ReviewsReview this title
Some viewers seem to let prejudices decide whether or not they like a show, but I've taken a look at the evidence, and I happen to be looking forward to the rest of the series.
But after the first season, the show started degrading, heavily. Most of the mathematics and technology used in crime solving is now utter gibberish and very laughable to all people involved in science & technology for real.
The involvement from the actors still feels okay and I can imagine a fair amount of money is still going into producing each episode, but in the end, this has degraded to a very unpleasantly tasting dish which is a mix of a grade C action thriller and CSI style cop show.
If you are gonna watch it, go for only the first season and possibly parts of the second. Thereafter I would not waste my time. Myself, I gave the show up midway through season 3.
Season 1 - 8 stars Season 2 - 5 stars Season 3 - 3 stars
Let's sum that up to 4 stars. Since Charlie doesn't know his math anymore, I won't bother with the correctness of mine either.
Come on. If the main point of the show is to show maths as a new, fresh, interesting manner of approaching crime-solving - why did it have to insult mathematicians? As much as most "hacker movies" tend to send any even moderately computer-savvy person rolling on the floor laughing (visual programs operated using long sequences of keystrokes instead of a mouse, typing "OVERRIDE" to override a password, hacking depicted as a sequence of random digits accepted one-by-one, absurd internet address formatting, huge data transfers taking seconds instead of hours, tiny data transfers taking seconds or minutes instead of being almost instant, etc, etc) - this show tries to show mathematicians as "number wizards" while the manner mathematics is depicted is often absurd or intentionally obfuscated. Following the old Latin notion, "quidquid latine dictum sit altum videtur", anything said in Latin sounds wise, this show has characters often speak out long wise-sounding sequences of mathematical lingo meaning nothing at all. This is not a direct quote, but think along the lines of "Let's try to use a stochastic algorithm to split the data into discrete subsets, which we will analyze using a probabilistic equation to determine the likelihood of occurrence of the data in the original set", hearing which another character makes a wise nod and everything is clear... Except that what was just said is little more than "we'll try to see if the data appeared in itself", which is plainly silly.
There is a quote of another kind in the quotes list for this show, as I see now (just follow the Memorable Quotes link and search for "Heisenberg"). One character explains the whole Heisenberg electron-locating theory... only to brilliantly point out to the other, that if he was seen by the criminals, they might act upon it - take retaliatory actions or extra effort to conceal their tracks. How something so obvious needed getting poor ol' Heisenberg involved is beyond me.
As much as the CSI series is sometimes criticised for distorting the accuracy of the forensic analysis process, but most of the time keeps it believable even if slightly exaggerated, Numb3rs presents methods either absurdly effective (resulting in perfect guesses using almost no data at all) or involving huge amounts of calculation where the answer is in plain sight requiring a kindergarten-level of deduction.
In other words - watch it if you're treating it lightly and don't try to believe it.
First, choosing the right model to predict a situation is a demanding task. Charlie Eppes is shown as a genius, but even him would have to spend considerable time researching for a suitable model, specifically for trying to guess what someone will do or where he will be in the near future. Individuals are erratic and haphazard, there is no modeling for them. Isaac Asimov even wrote about that in the 1950's. Even if there were a model for specific kind of individual, it would be a probabilistic (stoichastic) one, meaning it has good chance of making a wrong prediction.
Second, supposing the right model for someone or a situation is found, the model parameters have to be known. These parameters are the constants of the equations, such as the gravity acceleration (9.8 m/s2), and often are not easy to determine. Again, Charlie Eppes would have to be someone beyond genius to know the right parameters for the model he chooses. And after the model and the parameters are chosen, they would have to be tested. Oddly, they are not, and by miracle, they fit exactly the situation that is being predicted.
Third, a very important aspect of modeling is almost always neglected, not only by Numbers, but also by sci-fi movies: the computational effort required for solving these models. Try to make Excel solve a complex model with many equations and variables and one will find doing a Herculean job. Even if Charlie Eppes has the right software to solve his models, he might be stuck with hardware that will be dreadfully slow. And even with the right software/hardware combination, the model solution might well take days to be reached. He solves them immediately! I could use his computer in my research work, I would be very glad.
As a drama, it is far from being the best show. The characters are somewhat stereotyped, but not even remotely funny as those in Big Bang Theory are. The crimes are dull and the way Charlie Eppes solves them sometimes make the FBI look pretty incompetent.
For some layman, the show might work. For others, the way things are handled makes it difficult to swallow!
The lame-ness of the "math" aspect to the show is encapsulated in one episode co-starring Lou Diamond Phillips (which just confirms that this show is the last refuge of the damned.) In order to catch a fugitive, the "mathematician" uses some theory about "bubbles". So, he gives this long explanation that, if we have seen the suspect in places A, B and C, then we can use "bubble theory" to calculate where he might be. He does this all on a chalkboard, or maybe with a stick in the dirt (I cant remember).
Anyway, when you look at the finished product, he basically took three spots, and picked a point right in the middle and said "Ok, mathematically, here's where we are most likely to find the fugitive." At which point, one other character points out "Oh, that point also happens to be the cabin where the guy used to live." Is that math? Its not even connect-the-f**k**g-dots!!! This show reminds me of the math major I used to work with in banking who had a mathematical analysis he could do to "support" points that every one else had already agreed on through either less-complex analysis or basic common sense.
It just goes to show -- When you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I can't wait til they stick the NUMB3RS team on OSAMA... They'll use calculus, call an airstrike in the middle of the mountains, and hit Osama and not even scratch the five children he uses as human shields... cuz hey... its all about the numbers.
Totally ludicrous TV show.
I'm particularly liking Krumholtz, who has turned out to be very different from what I would have expected. Most surprisingly of all, he turned out to be CUTE. He was a fairly stereotypically nerdy Jewish boy as a teenager, but the big-eyed, shaggy-haired socially awkward angelic genius role fits him like a glove. In another actor's hands, it would likely be pretty cloying, but Krumholtz underplays it nicely.
Rob Morrow and Judd Hirsch are more typical characters, with more workmanlike performances so far, but the chemistry between the three Eppeses is fine. The other characters will be developing as the show ages, so we'll see how they turn out.
As I said, I suspect they will have to leave aside the specific formula they've laid out for the show so far, because even if they manage to come up with dozens of plots which hinge on some permutation of mathematics, the theme is certain to quickly grow repetitive and even self-parodying before too long. Since they have supplied interesting characters, though, change-of-pace plots should be just as watchable as the ones done up to now.
This show, however, makes a MOCKERY of mathematics, and thus gets a "1" from this reviewer. Basically some Hollywood director who clearly did not hire one mathematician for his staff to advise him, just makes up some random equations using as many variables and mathematical symbols as they can and peppers the show with cool sound effects as the equations float by in the background or are written on a chalkboard by the main character, usually shown in a stereotypical "genius" daze of not paying attention to anything but math.
Other than the insult this show brings to all people who understand math, even more insulting is that it gives a sense of patently false understanding to those who never felt like they "got" math before.
As for the acting, character development, etc, the premise of this show is so preposterous that for me, it overrides everything else. The actors may be good, the writing may be solid, but I can't even tell, I am too distracted by the mockery that is made out of my main passion and its misapplication.
Two brothers who are very different but care about each other a great deal work together in a surprising way: Don is an FBI agent, and Charlie (David Krumholtz) is a genius mathematician. They combine their talents to solve FBI cases, with Don receiving aid from formulas that Charlie comes up with to help predict a criminal's next move, or calculate the area in danger from an attack, etc. Many times the math terms Charlie uses are completely unfamiliar to non-math people, but that doesn't end up mattering too much, as he always explains his formulas and ideas to those who aren't as smart as him (such as his brother and the other FBI agents!). All the main cast are excellent actors, and the stories are interesting and varied every week. Not just another crime drama!
(And, as a quick side note to: Author: budikavlan from Irving, TX... The show is pronounced "Numbers" the 3 is inspired by the "leetspeek" substitution of numbers for letters... They do that in the actor and character names in the title sequence as well. And it puts a number in the title as well. Very appropriate, really, and I like the idea.) Anyhow, on to the show itself.
I find it to be an incredibly creative premise, and they manage to keep the ideas interesting each episode. The fact that they show how Charly gets some of his inspirations from everyday things, or puts complex concepts into terms that almost anyone can understand says a lot for the potential of this show, which it has fulfilled thus far.
I also enjoy that, unlike a good number of crime dramas, you learn a lot more about the central characters, their backgrounds, and their lives away from work as more than just asides. it makes the characters a lot more three dimensional. Even the supporting characters in the show (outside of the Epps family themselves) have personalities and depth to them. This is wonderfully exhibited in the character of Dr. Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol), who sometimes helps Charly with his cases, and sometimes just stops by to bounce some of his philosophical musings off his friend. (Also showing that if you scratch the surface of any scientist, you will find a philosopher.)
One of the things Ialso credit the show with is being able to give a sense of the crimes and show what happens, without having to get graphic about it. When they do show blood, it's not overdone, and it's kept to a reasonable level, but you can still feel that something seriously wrong has happened. You won't get decomposing bodies dumped out of barrels, cooked bodies found in car trunks, dismembered body parts graphically shown, and such. In other words, unlike CSI, they won't need to continually top themselves on the "gross out" factor.
To sum it up in four words: I love this show.
I started watching "Numb3rs" a couple of weeks ago. I had heard from some of my teenage friends that it was a good show, and I wanted to check it out. I was so surprised to see a hot guy who was good at math and was helping catch criminals! I had never thought that the math I hated could be used like that.
Teachers have always told me that math has an application in the real world, but honestly, I didn't believe them- until now. I don't dread calculus anymore. In fact, I go into sixth period every day wanting to learn more about what is now a fascinating subject.
Thank you, Numb3rs, for getting me interested in math. And thank you for a great, even educational, show that every kid should watch. Math is so cool now!!!!
A genius approach to modern television that offends as few people as is possible while managing to attract the largest audience...bravo. I've seen the entire six seasons several times and though i miss the characters i see why it had to end...they were running out of viable scenarios where math and science would be both understandable to the audience, and without rehashing old episode tragedies.
I am jealous of those who haven't seen any of these shows, i would love to see the entire six seasons for the first time, again...
Well, I was surprised at how much I like the show! I was a little scared of the math thing, thinking it's too difficult to understand. I was right, sometimes the math is too complicated to understand, but it's not extremely central to the show. The show is basically about an FBI agent, Don Eppes, who has a brother, Charlie Eppes, who is a brilliant mathematician, a child genius now all grown up. Don and Charlie solves crimes together, but it's not just that, the show talks about how the brothers and their father relate to each other.
This show would not work if the main characters were not so appealing. Plus, Rob Morrow and David Krumholtz are such gorgeous men! If only all FBI agents and mathematic geniuses looks like that! The acting is very, very good. The plots are interesting even if they get a bit convoluted. There is a nice balance of action and intellect as we watch how the FBI solves crimes.
My only complaint is that I want the show to get more into the history and characters of the Eppes family. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of that soon.
I recommend the show highly. Don't let math scare you off from watching this show. I'm so glad I'm into "Numb3rs" now!
Then the scene came that let me know that as much as I enjoy learning from the chubby, frumpish but very charming Charles Epps and his sexy sidekick/love interest Amita, my Friday nights will be better spent otherwise engaged. Don gives David the "distress word" that is the code for "The s**t is about to go down"; David is ready, they kill the lights, drop the elevator, startle the nut job and......
David CANNOT DISARM/KILL/BEAT INTO SUBMISSION THE NUT JOB. The bad guy ends up with BOTH GUNS, David ends up SHOT.
I'm done. Hope the NUMB3RS are fun.
I seek education that will stretch my mind to look at life in new ways, and stretch my capacity to experience my own humanity through being present to relationships that seem and feel real and authentic.
This show hits the mark in a novel way. After watching it for a while, I have actually learned to engage very complex statistical analysis in my own life in ways that are very, very meaningful to me in making decisions and comparing potential pathways to move forth into the world.
I highly recommend it, and am considering mapping out how to apply what you learn watching this show to your own life if some of you request this. Let me know on my blog at HTTP://integralinquiryx.wordpress.com