Numb3rs does add up

A lot of people have asked my opinion about Numb3rs, simply because it's a TV show about maths (for you Americans out there, I mean 'math'). Being a writer with a degree in the subject, what I can say is that overall it's a pretty good show.

Dramatically, it's a buddy cop show with maths as the gimmick. One is a hardened FBI agent; his brother is a mathematical genius. The FBI comes up against tough cases, and the maths genius comes up with the clever way of solving them.

The stories are usually solid but unspectacular, and if it wasn't for the maths, it wouldn't be that interesting. The dialogue is actually pretty good and the character insights are well done, especially for the mathematical brother. Mathematicians like the world to fit. We're always looking for patterns and we get especially annoyed when something just doesn't jive. When we figure it out, we rejoice because the world makes sense again. I think the show at times captures that sort of thinking well.

The maths for the first season of the series is fairly solid. Credit for authenticity goes to a Professor at CalTech who acted as a consultant, and a lot of the techniques used are ones that have been applied in real-life cases. The only problem I forsee is that they'll run out of clever ideas and will have to resort to the stupid hand-waving technobabble that we see in most geek shows. The facts seem to bear this out; none of the first four episodes of the second season are as interesting as what's in the first season - mathematically speaking, that is.

On top of everything, the show also co-stars Navi Rawat, and I don't say no to a hot mathematician. What they say to me is a different matter altogether.


posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - permalink
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