Studio: CBS/Paramount Network Television
US Rating: Not Rated
Film Length: 17 Hours 9 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Stereo Surround
Subtitles: Optional English
The Show - out of
The amount of crime dramas on television nowadays has reached critical mass. In addition to the Law & Order and CSI Franchise (which together account for 6 full hours of television each week) there is a smattering of other shows, each trying to be familiar but unique. Whether it is the military themed NCIS, Without A Trace that focuses on missing people, Cold Case which finds its story source in old, unsolved cases, Criminal Minds or new fare like K-Ville, TV is filled with police procedurals. Broadcast on CBS, Numb3rs has been in that mix for three years now and is a show whose unique voice is provided by the language of mathematics.
Numb3rs focuses primarily on two brothers, Don Eppes (Rob Morrow), an agent with the FBI and Charlie (David Krumholtz), a mathematical genius with an incredible ability to determine patterns and hypotheses from an array of numbers associated with crime. The FBI team under Don consists of a relatively rookie agent Colby Granger (Dylan Bruno), a behavioral scientist, Megan Reeves (Diane Farr) and a more seasoned agent, David Sinclair (Alimi Ballard). This team uses the more traditional set of skills employed in solving crime, but rely heavily on the untraditional and unique approach of using mathematical equations and logic to unravel the mysteries and posit potential outcomes that help them solve crime and save lives.
The socially awkward but intelligent Charlie isn’t alone in working on FBI cases. He is joined by his close friend and once mentor, Dr Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) and former student, now girlfriend Amita Ramanjuan (Navi Rawat). Though Peter MacNicol’s character is absent for much of the middle and latter part of the season, replaced by a different character Dr. Mildred French (Kathy Najimy), he and Navi Rawat provide a relatable and somewhat ‘normal’ dynamic, balanced against the darker, more macho FBI team.
The season opens with an intriguing ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ inspired tale, a two-parter that guest stars Lou Diamond Phillips, and launches this third season with quite the bang. Numb3rs isn’t as bloody or gruesome as shows like C.S.I or Bones but does enjoy more graphic moments at times. The unique quality of this show versus almost every other show of this genre on television is the time spent with the characters and their lives outside of the routine of working on cases. And while this show clearly has the two brothers, Don and Charlie as the main focus, this is truly an ensemble show and each character is given a peek into their private lives. Charlie and Don live with their father (or rather their father is living with them) and he is played by Judd Hirsch. This familial flavor to the show is also quite distinctive and often proves to be the emotional core of an episode, even if it is not the driver of that episode.
The show is produced by two brothers, Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, both successful and talented film directors. Most of the show’s style, especially the dramatic transitions between scenes, are reminiscent of Tony Scott’s technique (Think Man on Fire and Déjà Vu), and they can seem a bit too much for the hour long drama. The stories explored on the show are familiar and quite routine (online sex offenders, kidnapping & ransom, corporate greed), but the idea of using numb3rs to identify the criminals and determine where or why they will strike next ends up being quite fascinating. From what I understand of the complexities of mathematics, much of the algorithms and equations poured into understanding a crime bend the rules or vastly oversimplify math from time to time, but for the most part, seem to hold water.
Numb3rs also suffers from weakness in some of the scripts. They sometimes contain clunky or overly dramatic dialogue that weigh the show down at times. But the careful balance of action and drama, solving cases and dealing with family and personal lives, gives the show something more to hold on to than just the uniqueness of the concept.
2: Two Daughters
4: The Mole
9: Waste Not
11: Killer Chat
12: Nine Wives
13: Finders Keepers
14: Take Out
15: End of Watch
17: One Hour
19: Pandora’s Box
20: Burn Rate
21: The Art of Reckoning
22: Under Pressure
23: Money for Nothing
24: The Janus List
Numb3rs Season Three is presented in its original filmed ratio of 1.78:1 and enhanced for widescreen televisions. I would have expected a little more from a show that looks pretty good on CBS-HD. As presented on DVD, much of the crispness is gone and even though this is not a show that revels in a strong color palette on TV, it seems somewhat weak here. As it stands, this DVD release of Numb3rs is a little soft and a little drained. I would classify the image quality as generally acceptable but short of where it could have been.
This is where Numb3rs really seems to shine. It comes with both an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track and an English stereo surround. The 5.1 track packs quite the punch. The bass on this DVD set is very deep. When the graphics and sliding images of the transitions kick in, so does the music and the bass – this is when the subwoofer steps up and rumbles the house. There is a healthy sound dynamic in the action sequences that the show rhythmically launches into, especially the explosions that frequent the season. The surrounds are also quite full, reasonably strong and able to immerse the viewer in the scenes.
Cast and Crew commentary on Select Episodes : – Commentary tracks are available on ‘Two Daughters’, Hardball, Killer Chat, Nine Wives and One Hour.
Crunching NUMB3RS: Season 3 : – (19:31) – The cast and crew discuss the growth of the show and the further development of the characters. Also discussed are the temporary absence of Peter MacNicol (off doing a stint on 24) and the addition of Kathy Najimy’s character as Charlie’s boss, Dr. French. This is a pretty open look at the creation of season three.
Eppes Central : – (11:44) – This feature covers the Eppes’ house, how it was a real home for the short first season but for cost sakes, was recreated fairly closely on a soundstage as a set. This extra has interviews with the producers, the owner of the original Craftsmen home from the first season and set decorators.
Blooper Reel : – (6:26) – This has all your familiar line flubs, on set antics and fun that happens when shooting a show or a movie.
Set House Tour : – (9:45) – The Eppes Family, played by David Krumholtz, Judd Hirsch and Rob Morrow take the viewer on a tour of the set that serves as home for the Eppes boys. They have some fun, both in and out of character, pulling back the curtain on the set and props.
Sneak Peaks : – Sneak peaks of Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition and Showtime’s Dexter
Numb3rs is an interesting ensemble show, nicely balancing crime drama with real life drama. The cast appears to work well as a team and that comes through onscreen. I would never have thought the concept of using math to help with a different FBI case every week would have had enough steam to last three seasons, but with this DVD set it is quite clear that there could very well be as endless a number of mathematical techniques applicable to crime as there are numbers themselves.
Not perfect and occasionally unfocused, Numb3rs does, however, have its own charm and has clearly defined itself a little differently than the hours and hours of other crime dramas available on television each week.