Scorpion: Is the CBS Procedural a Stroke of Genius?

Scorpion Series Premiere

There isn’t a single problem that Scorpion‘s Walter O’Brien can’t solve. Well, if you don’t count the whole “unable to process emotions” thing.

On the CBS procedural, which debuted Monday, Walter (Body of Proof’s Elyes Gabel) is one of the five smartest people in the world, and he’s surrounded himself with other highly intelligent outcasts who are just scraping by in the real world: Sylvester Dodd, a mind-bogglingly fast mathematician; Toby Curtis, a Harvard-trained behaviorist; and Happy Quinn, an engineering whiz (who also has an affinity for punching people in the mouth).

RELATED  Fall TV First Impression: CBS’ Scorpion

Together, the team has a combined IQ of more than 700, but coping with emotions and connecting with other humans aren’t among their strengths. (Case in point: When Walter breaks it off with his girlfriend of three months at the start of the episode, his parting gift to her is a list of emotions she’ll likely experience during the course of their split. Complete with a decision tree! How… thoughtful? I think?)

But after months of barely making their rent and relying on odd jobs around California, the team is called upon by Homeland Security Agent Cabe Gallo (The Unit’s Robert Patrick), who needs the geniuses to get LAX airport’s communications system up and running again, after a corrupt software upgrade has taken down the entire network. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to prevent 56 planes from falling out of the sky in the next two hours. No biggie.

Walter is reluctant to help Gallo, and remains that way for most of the hour. See, after Walter first appeared on the government’s radar as a child (for hacking into NASA in search of space shuttle blueprints, as kids do), Gallo recruited a teenage Walter to develop tracking software that would assist in dropping military aid packages. Instead, Gallo and his team used Walter’s system to drop bombs, killing 2,000 civilians and breaking Walter’s trust in Gallo indefinitely. That chill you feel in the air? It’s the icy, icy shoulder Walter’s giving his former boss.

RELATED  Fall TV’s Breakout Stars: Scorpion‘s Elyes Gabel and More!

The team carries out their mission at a local diner, where they encounter waitress Paige (Smash’s Katharine McPhee) and her quiet son Ralph, whose genius capabilities Paige has been mistaking for an intellectual disability. And although she’s not quite as gifted as the rest of the Scorpion team, Paige plays an integral part in getting the LAX communications up and running again — so much so, that when Walter and his associates are permanently brought on as part of Gallo’s new strategic response team, Paige is offered a job on the squad, as well. Even more enticing than the job prospect? Paige’s renewed sense of hope for her son, who finds he has an ally in Walter.

It’s hard to see just how well Paige’s subplot will fit into the overall narrative, as she attempts to translate the “normal” world for a group of emotionally stunted misfits. But Scorpion’s first hour is nothing if not action-packed — and if you felt a little tug on your heartstrings in the last five minutes, you certainly weren’t the only one.

OK, your turn. What did you think of the Scorpion premiere? Grade the episode via our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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90 Comments
    • Sheila says:

      So did I. Was looking forward to this. Set season pass. Loved the cast and characters. Fun to watch.

    • Delirious says:

      Same here – my only fear is that it doesn’t keep this level of fun and intensity as the show continues. But still loved the pilot, to the point of getting immersed in it.

  1. Tran says:

    I give Scorpion an A the same grade I did with Gotham. I’m always a sucker for high octane action and drama to say the least but it’s pure adrenaline TV from start to finish. Going up against Sleepy Hollow in the 9 p.m. Monday night time slot is really a toss-up or in other words a coin flip and what are the chances if Scorpion is going to survive throughout the entire season?

    • Tran says:

      Honorable moment from the pilot episode: Paige vomits a la feeling car sick.

    • day says:

      The whole premise of this stupid episode was that there was no way to tell the aircraft that the tower communications were down. HOW STUPID !! Any other plane on the ground, heck, even hand held units, can talk to other aircraft! And, yes, I have done it. A private plane with an air traffic controller on board, could have taken off and circled the airport and relayed the information to the inbound planes, and told them to divert to another airport, even given them landing directions…. GIVE ME A BREAK !!! Guess I must be a genius and need to take the IQ test…..Why did not the geniuses think of that?????

  2. Robb says:

    Totally agree about the last five minutes…that is what definitely sold me on the watching the second episode…

  3. Kate says:

    I enjoyed the premier episode enough to tune back in and see how the series progresses.

  4. Ray says:

    CBS + Procedural. Hard pass

  5. Ok. I admit i had my reservations. I was a skeptic.

    But this was actually a fun light watch. like a popcorn movie but on tv.
    I enjoyed myself.
    it’s nothing to get too heavily invested on and you won’t have to puzzle about after you watch it
    but it’s a good Show if u want something quick and entertaining that you don’t have to think about after watching it.

    it’s good.

  6. Dawn says:

    I thought it was pretty decent. I’ll watch the next episode at least.

  7. laurelnev says:

    Scorpion turned out to be MUCH better than I expected. It’s good enough to give it a 2nd week anyway. I can see why they introduced it following a double ep of Big Bang Theory. These guys are kind of like a serious version of the geek gang. If it continues to be character based, it could be a good addition to the Monday schedule–much better than 2 1/2 Men or Mike & Molly. But I almost think it would do better in the 10 pm timeslot.

    • I like Scorpion because it is pretty much the exact opposite of Big Bang! While Big Bang Theory is all “Haha, aren’t nerds weird and funny!” Scorpion actually has what Big Bang pretends to have, geniuses and explores the problem those people face.

  8. pooj says:

    Omg so much adrenaline watching this show. Loved it.

  9. Tamar says:

    It was amazing…. until the scene with the plane…. that kind of killed it a bit. . But I will turn in next week

  10. Carola says:

    This show was ridiculously bad. Watch Sleepy Hollow, don’t waste your time.
    Plus Kat Mcphee´s acting was subpar as usual.

    • limerix says:

      Oh, are you one of those females?

      • HAP says:

        Are you referring to the Michael Morris thing? McPhee has made some bad choices in the past, probably starting with marrying a guy 19 years older than she. But Morris was sort of her boss, at least for 7 episodes of Smash. and ironically, Morris is back with Mary McCormack, while McPhee is heading to divorce.

        That said, I thought she acquitted herself quite well in this show.

  11. Stormy says:

    Enjoyed Kat McPhee for the first time. It was a bit frenetic [similar to Steve Zahn’s recent effort that failed]. But I liked it well enough to tune in again.

  12. i quite enjoyed it
    does the plot match the genius power of the characters
    no but i don’t care it’s a nice fun ride & i will enjoy every second of it

  13. JC says:

    I actually really enjoyed this. The action scenes were borderline ridiculous but a lot of fun, lol. I think this show could be easy viewing goodness

  14. JBC says:

    I enjoyed it and will tune in again next week. A cross between Leverage and Chuck maybe? Pilots are always so filled with intro’s so I am expecting next week to be a little more slower paced. I give it a B+ so far..

  15. Sebastian says:

    Seemed pretty good, didn’t have any problems, except “Why the hell didn’t the plane just land?” It would have made what they wanted to do a lot easier, and there wouldn’t have to be any suicidal driving a few feet under an airplane. Geniuses should have been able to figure out that planes can land on runways, especially when a runway has been cleared for it.

  16. r davidson says:

    Why didn’t they just land the damned
    plane?

    • schu says:

      This! And even if they couldn’t for one reason or another it was beyond ridiculous to think every single special agent/force the government had anywhere would not have been at LAX to help with such a maneuver, no lets take this stranger single mom to a 9 year old genius to reach for an electrical cord dangling from a plane moving at 200 mph, what the what? I give the show credit for keeping it high adrenaline and it kept me watching, but not sure how much more of those type of scenes I could take if it continues that way.

      • Patrick says:

        Once the plane landed, if indeed it could land at that small airport, the software update would have been automatic. That is hardwired into the plane’s systems.

  17. Badpenny says:

    I was not really expecting much but it tugged at me in all the right places. I will give it my traditional 3 episodes to keep me or send me on my way.

  18. Kelli says:

    Worst show I believe I have ever seen in my life. The part with the wire from the plane was beyond ridiculous. I had actually hoped to like this. It was pure garbage.

  19. mandapants says:

    Had fun watching the whole hour. Suspended my disbelief and went for a ride. I’m looking forward to more.

  20. C says:

    Why didn’t they just land the plane and download the software?

  21. Brian says:

    What did he say to the boy at the end? Something about dreams rewinding?

  22. James D says:

    I’m conflicted about this one. it was more entertaining then i thought it was going to be, yet it was still extremely trite. I really wish hollywood would stop equating high intellegance with stunted emotion, just because your a genius doesn’t mean you can’t feel or emote. does it happen? absolutly. Statistics have shown it is more likely, but it isn’t the norm either. If you watch the real Walter O’brian interviewed he’s engaging and connects dispite being smarter than everyone around him. the other problem I see is the night it’s on. There is simple too many shows on monday night i couldn’t possibly watch this plus all my other favorites. with that said i will DVR it and give it a shot because I was entertained.

    • Maryann says:

      I knew someone with a 197 IQ back when I was in college. He reminded me a great deal of Walter in how well he was able to socially adjust and deal with the world.

  23. meatball says:

    Katherine McPhee is a terrible actress! Get rid of her! She will get this show cancelled like she got Smash cancelled. Urgh! She ruins everything she’s in.

  24. Rachel says:

    It’s safe to say this show was better than I had anticipated. I’ll defiantly stick around and see how it plays out.

  25. Holy cow…currently watching it and I’m literally going to pee in my pants. This show is so fast-paced. I gotta grade this an “A”.

  26. Jimmy slater says:

    Loved the show! I thought Kat McPhee’s character is my fav so fat

  27. plumcuckoo says:

    Numbers, it reminded me if numbers a little …. People are complaint about the whole plane drama thing but for years had no problem with math people ruining around doing math in the middle of FBI crisis. The whole point of not landing the plane was b/c they wanted to minimize the deaths! The runway was too short, they would most likely take out some people on the plane and four blocks if people. Also they could not go to lax remember b/c of the traffic and the other airport was closer. Sometime I wonder if the people who complain actually watch the show closely.

    • Andrea says:

      It reminded me of Numb3rs A LOT, and I wondered if the pilot guest casting of Alimi Ballard was purposeful in that regard. Elyes Gabel and Walter O’Brien reminded me a bunch of David Krumholtz and Charlie Epps.

  28. Michael Keller says:

    How can a Harvard-trained behaviorist have problems connecting with other humans?

  29. Ram510 says:

    It was slightly better than expected but this show has been done before and was much better when it was called Numbers

  30. ninamags says:

    I want that car!

    Btw, there was actually a lady from Mexico some years ago that was actually called the Human Calculator. She was a math savant.

  31. Definitely gonna keep watching, especially because of Paige and her son, but it loses out to Sleepy Hollow in the live competition because of the procedural elements.

  32. Bark Star says:

    The story stretched the suspension of disbelief and the character work needs … well work. By all means, technically speaking it was average at best (wich is typical for Orci & Kurtzman). Yet I found myself throughly enjoying it big time.

  33. Eh, was okay. I dunno if its because I watched Blacklist and Gotham first or not but the things I’d usually rip into a show like this for didn’t bug me so much. Still don’t get why they could fly the plane so low but not plug it in, but maybe it was something about as soon as the plane touches the ground the software is updated or whatever. At least it isn’t try to turn a mental condition into a superpower. I guess I’ll check out the second episode, see how they establish the status quo.

  34. averagjoe3 says:

    terrible fx, unbelievable plot and scenarios, and annoying useless characters.

    ill be shocked if this lasts till xmas

  35. Kris says:

    Loved it! This is going to be on my list to watch. Had my interest all they through!

  36. Joanna Holt says:

    I loved it! I will definitely watch this show every week. The cast is great. It held my interest the whole show.

  37. Maryann says:

    Loved the show! This one will be a regular on my schedule.

  38. Maryann says:

    To me the least believable part of the show is the mother/child IQ differential. Ok, I would buy it if the mom was smart but not a genius, but totally average? IQ is at least partially genetic, and this just made no sense.

  39. I really enjoyed this show and can’t wait to see it. DVR already set with my season pass

  40. AK says:

    I enjoyed it – it reminded me a bit of “Numb3rs” . It got a season pass on my DVR!

  41. When I first heard about this show I was really excited, until I noticed it was on CBS.

    I gave it a watch and while I was entertained enough to add it to a season pass, I’m predicting I’ll drop it by December.

    I liked the characters, particular Eddie Kaye Thomas’ psychiatrist/profiler. I’d watch a whole show about him.

    However the writing, the writing was pretty damn bad. For a show about geniuses the plot was just AGGRESSIVELY stupid. Needing to get to the diner was a contrivance, but I’ll give them that, but then they just stacking one contrivance on top of another. While I’m not a genius by any means I try to be fairly well informed about things, and there were three or four times where I found myself just shaking my head saying “that’s not how that actually works” or “that decision makes no sense”. Now this is entertainment and I’d be willing to grant that kind of thing once in a while, I’m hoping that now that they have the gang together, they’ll be able to come up with some plots that make some semblance of sense going forward.

  42. jm says:

    people here love it more than journalist…
    it was ok. I dont like the lead character… too jock for a geek.
    Love the others tough. McPhee was super.

  43. Matty says:

    Its okay for a CBS crime procedural; but it lacks a lot of logic.

  44. Jooshua says:

    Best Herd of Nerds since Buy More.. I haven’t immediately loved a lead like Elyes Gabel since Zachary Levi premiered as “CHUCK” in 2007.

  45. Napier says:

    I watched the ‘SCORPION’ trailer when TVLine first posted it.. somehow I completely remember Josh Gad wearing Eddie Kaye Thomas’ hat being in this show.

    I have never had a memory blunder that bad before!

  46. marv says:

    plot sucked. just land the friggin plane and save all the lives on it. what about the other planes, don’t the pilots have enough common sense to attempt to land them and not just plunge to earth and die. duh, spare me, never watching again.