What to say if you liked it
An inventive new take on the well-trodden beat of cops ’n’ robbers yarns.
What to say if you didn’t like it
The carcass of the dead donor-card carrying X-Files from which most of the vital organs have been removed leaving only the skeletal framework of a dull police drama.
What was good about it?
• A likeable cast featuring David Krumholtz as “world class mathematician” Charlie Eppes, Rob Morrow as his FBI agent brother Don, and Judd Hirsch as their wily old pa.
• The naked murder victims in the opening scenes were considerate enough to lie in such a way as their nudity didn’t breach the puritanical rules of mainstream American TV. And the pathology team should be thanked for placing a trolley of surgical instruments in the way of the voyeuristic camera to obscure its view of the second victim’s pallid breasts as she lay on the slab.• Peter MacNicol (John Cage in Ally McBeal) as Charlie’s even more mathematically obsessed mentor Dr Larry Fleinhardt, who acts as a Yoda to Charlie’s Luke Skywalker.
• The mathematical elements of the plot which Charlie uses to aid his brother’s investigations are always clearly explained such as how the LA Rapist’s attacks followed a pattern even though he did his best to make them seem like random locations. From this Charlie was able to determine an area from which the LA Rapist operated.
• The subtle character clashes which were used sparingly to help flesh out the main players, and offer prospects for future storylines, such as the simmering rivalry between Charlie and Don, and their mutual attraction to vivacious Amita. And Diane has affection for her colleague Don.
• Charles confounding Don’s boss Walt with maths when he mocks him for entering the lottery by claiming that even if he buys 20 tickets a week, he’ll still only hit the jackpot once every 40,000 years.
• When Charlie’s first theory is ostensibly proved incorrect, he takes out his frustrations by scribbling unfathomable mathematical formulae on his blackboard. A trait which makes a pleasing change from characters going down the pub to get bladdered on double whiskies, or flouncing down to the beach to stare aimlessly into the mid-distance at the ocean before stopping to let the cameraman catch up and capture their pain.
• The theme tune: Talking Heads’ Once In A Lifetime
What was bad about it?
• “Math” is a term we’ll never get accustomed to. There is no law in the English language that enables a plural noun to be truncated to a singular noun.
• David, a stooge among the FBI agents and a dumb archetype of cop shows, who is a little less bright than the rest of the team and is thus compelled to ask silly questions which enable the leads to churn out the necessary narrative exposition. And he also was taken hostage by the villain.
• The crushingly bland rock music made up of riffs left unsold in the Great Emporium of Crunching Guitar Riffs which are on the verge of being sold off and slaughtered before being duly processed into the soulless strings in Westlife (de)compositions.
• The mathematical symbols denoting sine, cosine etc, brought back the instinctive horrors of our math, sorry maths A-level. And sometimes we felt as though we were watching Johnny Ball’s Think of a Number.