TV - Watching the Detectives: Scorpion

Scorpion

In a series of articles, Susan Omand and Steve Taylor-Bryant are going to remember the policemen, spies and criminal specialists that entertained them over the years. Today, Steve gets stung by Scorpion...

This was a show I seemed to have missed out on first time around. If I wasn't so lazy I would research whether it even had a UK television channel run it [season 2 is currently running on ITV2 - Susan] but that might involve getting up and going away from my coffee, so I'll just tell you I discovered it on Netflix and leave it at that. It's a strange beast of a show because the storylines are so way out for a normal mind but, basically, it's a bunch of genius people teaming up with Homeland Security. "Oh, one of those shows" you may think but it's a true story! Well true-ish. It's based loosely on the life of computer genius Walter O'Brien, an Irish tech mogul who hacked NASA when he was just 13 years old and reportedly has an IQ of 197, which is about 40 points north of Einstein and about 196 higher than my own, and the show primarily revolves around Walter and his Scorpion company. You do have to suspend your belief structure a bit as not all claims by Walter O'Brien are provable. His IQ has never been recorded by Mensa, he couldn't have been hired by Homeland Security when he was 13 as Homeland Security wasn't in existence at the time, it was formed in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist atrocities, and his NASA hack is also unprovable apparently due to non disclosure agreements. Who wants provable facts to get in the way of a good story anyway?

The television Scorpion team consist of Walter O'Brien played by Elyes Gabel, a British actor best known for Casualty, super shrink Toby Curtis, wonderfully portrayed by American Pie alum Eddie Kaye Thomas, ├╝ber engineer Happy Quinn with Caprica's Jadyn Wong in the role, and mathematician Sylvester Dodd which sees musician DRTV's Ari Stidham in the role. These very smart people are joined by ex-waitress Paige Dineen, Shark Night 3D's Katherine McPhee, as the team's human voice due to their massive lack of social skills. Paige is also the mother of a boy genius, Ralph, and she learns how to parent a gifted child whilst teaching her intelligent cohorts how to deal with people on a personal level. The agent who ties them to their government work with Homeland is Agent Cabe Gallo with the always watchable Robert Patrick bringing to life the character that originally arrests and then hires the 13 year old Walter.

The stories aren't mentally taxing and aren't perhaps as clever as they think they are but there is something very watchable, almost addictive, about Scorpion. It's a bit like NCIS, you know it's not brilliant but it's far from terrible and sometimes it's okay to switch off and watch something for a little enjoyment. The effects are standard television fare for the most part but when an unbelievable stunt, like in the pilot episode, requires a Ferrari to be driven underneath a jumbo jet it's okay because Fast and Furious dude Justin Lin is on the team and manages to pull off movie level scenes on the television budget.

It tries to explain how genius people react or don't within society and I have to commend them for trying to be sensitive with the characters. In the end though, it does come off like NYPD Blue meets The Big Bang Theory but again there is nothing wrong with that approach at all. I've nearly finished watching the entire first season, I'm quite looking forward to the second and, if I was scoring out of 10 then it would average a 7 across the season which isn't bad for mindless television. If you fancy a show which entertains but allows you to switch off for 45 minutes then you won't get better than Scorpion.

Image - IMDb