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Image Credit: Walter O'Brien and Paige Dineen

'Scorpion' series premiere recap: High-speed action falls flat

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired Sept 22, 2014

Scorpion treks down the same well-worn road Sherlock and The Big Bang Theory staggered down for years: trying to make brainy sexy.

Although Scorpion plays more like the odd miscreant teenager than the gangly geek groups portrayed in the aforementioned shows, it’s nonetheless a story of finding your place in the world when you just don’t fit the status quo.

It should be charming and full of enlightening revelations about the world, but instead is bogged down by clichéd character tropes and forced cathartic moments between two-dimensional characters.

The show starts off with the introduction of Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) as a 10-year-old child-prodigy hacker who’s arrested after infiltrating NASA’s command center.

Flash forward about 20 years, and he’s sitting in a diner, helping a local Los Angeles businessman set up his WiFi system.

Brilliance wasted, some would argue.

The scene in the diner is integral to the entire episode’s overall dynamic. It’s the first time he meets the hyper-vigilant waitress Paige (Katharine McPhee) and her own genius son, Ralph.

The two quickly strike up a conversation in which he manages to dissect every detail about her life through signs both on her body and within her body language. It’s very Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network.

Sounds familiar? Sherlock, and every character based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s drug-addicted savvy detective (Gregory House, Robert Goren, Sheldon Cooper, and Spencer Reid, to name a few), have managed to squeeze out the same monologue on their respective shows.

At this point, a character making insulting assumptions based on body language isn’t just old, it’s boring and unimpressive.

The two seem to end on a poor note to the surprise of neither, and O’Brien hightails it back to his dinky warehouse on the cusp of civilization, where the audience meets the rest of the high-IQ posse: Sylvester, the stereotypical math genius; Toby, the insatiable psychiatrist; and Happy, the punkish mechanical engineer. All are the top players in their respective fields, and all seemingly waste their talents working under O’Brien. They lack any kind of substantial income, and to make matters worse, they’re portrayed as juvenile, or in some cases, as juvenile delinquents.

This all changes when FBI Special Agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick) comes barging into their clubhouse of apathy and demands they help him prevent a plane from crashing.

While the team is all for it, O’Brien has some issues, after previously working with Gallo and being sold out. Eventually he comes around and concedes, jumping on board to help the innocent passengers.

The team makes its way over to the café he had just visited and hijack the restaurant, working tirelessly to figure out a way to stop the plane from crash-landing.

What should have been the most exciting 20 minutes of the pilot turned out to be nothing more than clichéd line and scenario after clichéd line and scenario.

At first they can’t figure out a way to stop the plane, and everyone has a somber moment where they realize their genius isn’t equivalent to Superman’s superhuman capabilities.

Then a riveting speech gets the juices flowing once more for O’Brien, and through a conveniently timed brain blast, he’s able to figure out a solution.

The team embarks on tracking down the specific electronic file O’Brien needs to hack into the air-control tower and help guide the plane to safety. While they manage to snag it with only seconds to spare (it’s always with only seconds to spare), a careless magnetic mistake ends any chance of that plan taking shape.

Queue the depressing realization once again that they may not be able to do anything to stop the plane. It would all be so very dramatic if it weren’t so stereotypically predictable.

Paige comes to the rescue again with a rousing speech that sets off another idea in O’Brien’s head, and together the two embark on saving the greater Los Angeles area from devastation.

Here’s where the episode gets good … for about five minutes.

As Paige races through the city, it’s easy to see Justin Lin’s directorial hand. The final action-packed segments feel like they were ripped out of a Fast and Furious film. As a matter of fact, the final action-packed scene of the episode, a scene in which Paige and O’Brien hack into a Ferrari in an attempt to drive underneath a hovering plane so they can connect to the internal computer via cable, pretty much was taken directly out of a Fast and Furious film. The scene is nothing short of incredible, the exact ingredient needed for a high-octane, adrenaline-pumping feeling. Unfortunately, it only lasts for a couple of minutes before the show returns to its poorly written self.

Predictably, O’Brien and his team are offered full-time gigs with the FBI (which they accept, of course), and O’Brien brings on Paige and her ever-growing-genius son.

Scorpion is a show that shouldn’t rely on a happy ending, and quite frankly, the premiere would have been much better without one.

Perhaps as the series goes on and the characters progress, it’ll become more intriguing, but for now, it’s just another geeky show with an action twist.


Scorpion, rated TV-14, airs on Mondays at 9/8C on CBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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