Tag Archives: Scorpion

Reviewing My 2014-15 Predictions: CBS

13 May

CBS

Well, there’s no point in making predictions if you’re not willing to revisit them later and see just how wrong you were. Now that the final decisions are in, let’s review how I did.

CBS now. My fall predictions are here and my spring predictions are here, and in short, every show gets one of three predictions: that it will air 12 episodes or fewer, 13 episodes or more, or be renewed.

Madam Secretary

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

CBS invested heavily in this series, and it was a sensible match for its adult Sunday night lineup. Combined with the fact that CBS was debuting fewer shows than any other network, backing Madam Secretary seemed like a smart bet.

Scorpion

Prediction: 13+

Reality: Renewal

Scorpion looked hackneyed to me (and it was) and while it’s the type of show that could (and did) succeed on CBS, I didn’t think it had what it took. I was wrong and that’s okay.

NCIS: New Orleans

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

NCIS remains, after all these years, one of the most successful shows on TV, and the Los Angeles spin off is quite successful as well. Taking the over on NCIS: New Orleans was definitely the safe bet and worked out as expected.

Stalker

Prediction: 13+

Reality: 13+

Stalker looked like the worst show in the CBS line up, and was, and also the one that made the least sense with existing CBS properties, being a little too horror-oriented; closest to Criminal Minds, but still not quite right.

Spring:

The Odd Couple

Prediction: 12-

Reality: Renewal

This show was terrible and it looked terrible, and I know it’s CBS, but Matthew Perry has a couple of post-Friends network failures already and this looked like an obvious continuation of that sequence. I’m still a little surprised it will be back.

Battle Creek

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: 12-

Battle Creek also looked not quite right for CBS (more Fox like, being procedural but silly, like Bones), but more on brand than Stalker, and came from a CBS-ized vision from superstar creators Vince Gilligan and David Shore. I banked on the star power carrying the show to at least one more season; I was wrong.

CSI: Cyber

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

CSIs have faded in the wake of triumphal NCISs, but each of the three editions had a very successful run, and I figured that picking a CSI led by Patricia Arquette was just another smart wager. This one was almost, almost cancelled, but just held on.

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Fall 2014 Review: Scorpion

26 Sep

Scorpion

My friend Victor a few years back coined the term “nerdface,” referring to several modern television shows and movies, but primarily to the far and away most successful and notable example of the phenmoenon, The Big Bang Theory. Nerdface is a superfacial showcasing of nerdom – showing nerds as stereotypical, extreme archetypes who are brilliant book-learners but totally non-functional socially. They love Star Trek, they can’t talk to women, and they generally simply can’t interact with regular non-nerd people in any way. Are there people who legitimately have trouble with social intereaction for any number of reasons? For sure. But these nerdface examples aren’t nuanced, complex, character portraits. They are instead reductive displays of character tropes everyone knows and instantly recognizes played for broad laughs. I could, and should, write an entry on how perplexing and frustrating it is that The Big Bang Theory is far and away the most popular comedy on TV, and hopefully someday I will, but this is certainly one of the reasons.

Scorpion brings nerdface to the police procedural genre. Scorpion is essentially some mash up of The Big Bang Theory and The A-Team (or the far less well-known Breakout Kings).  Scorbian features nerds who form a superteam solving especially difficult cases each week using a combination of the distinct super skills that each of them possesses (Yes, neither comparison is perfect – The A-Team is not affiliated with the government and Breakout Kings are former criminals, but work with me here). We see the four primary geniuses working together early in the episode, trying to start a profitabile company on their own, but their personal issues are holding them back in spite of their brilliance. There’s Walter, who’s a super genius and functions as the group’s leader and the closest they have to someone who can deal with the outside world. There’s Toby, a brilliant behaviorist who has an amazing ability to read people. There’s Sylvester, who is the nerdiest of the nerds and whose area of specialty is statistics. Rounding out the team is the one female member, Happy, an expert mechanical engineer. The four are recruited by federal agent Gallo in the premiere to solve a crisis, after which he recruits them full time, an outcome which Walter claims to have anticipated from the outset. Gallo continues to play the role of their government handler. The last member of the cast is Paige, an ordinary waitress whose child Walter recognizes as a prodigy. Walter recruits her to be their normie, helping these nerds interact socially with regular folk, while also helping her raise her genius son.

This is also a matter for a seperate post, but I generally ascribe responsibility for gender and racial diversity to networks rather than individual shows; TV networks should be responsible for fielding more diverse shows, but individual shows shouldn’t always be responsible for being more diverse, depending, of course, on the circumstances and context of the individual show. That said it’s disappointing and not particularly surprising that the four nerds are three male to one female, and all the characters but one are white. That’s certainly not a big enough factor that I would choose to watch or not watch a show becuase of, but just another example of what’s par for the course on television, and especially network television.

Every week there will be a new crisis and every week the team of super nerds will be there to solve it. Intrinsically I understand the appeal of the super team, but the nerdface in particular rubs me the wrong besides the show just having absolutely nothing else which would make it stick out from the pack of CBS procedurals.

Will I watch it again? No. I don’t hate procedurals as a rule; while I don’t watch any outside of the original Law & Order (my love of that show is a topic for a post in itself) with any regularity, in general, the genre has a fairly high floor and low ceiling. Of CBS’s newbies this season though, I’d take NCIS: New Orleans over Scorpion.

Fall 2014 Previews and Predictions: CBS

10 Sep

CBS

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13)

CBS next. Four shows, all dramas, as all comedies not titled after universe-starting events on CBS and really all of network TV are struggling relative to hour long series. One spin-off of a long-running and fabulously successful procedural, one Criminal Minds-type brutal murder procedural, one procedural about a group of genius misfits, and one Good Wife-like adult political drama. Let’s get to work.

Madame Secretary – 9/21

Madam Secretary

Tea Leoni plays a former CIA higher up, out of the game and working a low stress job teaching a university, recruited to be Secretary of State by the president, her former boss at the agency, when the previous Secretary dies in a plane crash. She’s an original thinker. Actually more than that, as the trailer makes clear in one of my favorite trailer lines in recent history – she doesn’t merely think outside of the box, she doesn’t even know there is a box! She struggles to make her mark in the administration as the new face, battling a hostile staff, a hostile chief of staff, and a conspiracy which may have resulted in the death of the prior secretary and may go all the way at least near the top. It’s all very adult; think The Good Wife mixed with an ounce of Scandal.

Prediction: Renewal – This seems like a smart bet for CBS in the adult vein of The Good Wife, which has succeeded on the back of critical successs and just enough commercial success, and aired on the same day. I’m not sure it will be good, but I doubt it will be awful, and I think it’s a safe play, targeted at higher income viewers on a snug Sunday night spot.

Scorpion – 9/22

Scorpion

A group of super genius nerds who are crazy brillaint but struggle to relate to normal humans on a social and emtional level are recruited by the government to help solve different problems and diffuse difficult situations. Useless by themselves, they’re rediscovered by an old aquaintance of our main character, who puts them to work. They’re also joined by a normie, a waitress, whose young son is a future genius, to help them deal with regular people in social situations. It makes sense on CBS  as a variety of the superteam type shows where everyone has a specialty, except in this case, all the specialties are nerrdy, but with cool uses – think A-team or the more recent Leverage meets The Big Bang Theory.

Prediction: 13+ I’m not sold by any means on its success, but it hardly seems like an obvious bomb, and I think with only four shows and a largely settled line up CBS will be willing to give its new shows a decent amount of leeway. There’s nothing about Scorpion that screams disaster, and I could honestly see it going any way, so I’ll take the middle path.

NCIS: New Orleans – 9/23

NCIS: New Orleans

Same story, new city. Legendary TV actor Scott Bakula is at the helm, manning the Mark Harmon role. CCH Pounder and Lucas Black co-star. There will be no surprises here; you know exactly what you’re going to be getting. One case a week, covering the remarkable number of navy-related murders in the Crescent City, which seems an obvious place to set a procedural, as it makes up for its lack of size compared to some of the bigger US cities with an abundance of ambience and terrible accents.

Prediction: Renewal – Could it fail? Absolutely. Might America be sick of the NCIS franchise? Perhaps. Still, it would be folly to bet against the current king of the CBS procedural franchise family. The original remains shockingly strong after so many years and NCIS: LA is successful as well.

Stalker – 10/1

Stalker

 

Stalker is advertised next to Criminal Minds and for good raeson; the show seems to feast on the same kind of psychotic, sociopathic, insane murders which Criminal Minds does. The difference is simply that while they’re wanted serial killers in Criminal Minds, they’re, well, stalkers, in Stalker. Maggie Q heads a division in Los Angeles which tracks and aprehends stalkers and she pairs with doesn’t-get-along-with-others cop Dylan McDermott, fresh from New York, and looking to cleanse himself of some personal and professional demonds while still being a little bit of a pain in the ass. These stalkers are not the well-motivated villains of the CSI and NCIS franchises but rather true crazy persons who are to be extra feared and require a special division to stop. Oh, and Maggie Q knows this better than anyway, because it seems like from the trailer she was once stalked herself.

Prediction: 13+ I have the least faith in this show of the CBS debuts; if push was to come to shove, I would take Scorpion above it. Still, I’m betting that McDermott’s TV power and the fact that, as mentioned in my Scorpion prediction, CBS has just four shows, on it making it at least past midseason. That said, McDermott’s Hostages last year on CBS was a failure, so I may be giving him too much credit.