Fall TV Preview

Fall TV First Impression: CBS' Scorpion

Scorpion Preview PilotThe broadcast networks have more than two dozen shows debuting this fall, including Katherine Heigl‘s TV comeback, a trip to Gotham, a third NCIS and a Flash-y Arrow offshoot. To help you prep for it all, TVLine is offering First Impressions of the not-for-review pilots.

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PHOTOS Fall TV Preview: Your Guide to What’s New!

THE SHOW | CBS’ Scorpion (Mondays at 9/8c, premiering Sept. 22)

THE COMPETITION | NBC’s The Voice, ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow and The CW’s Jane the Virgin

THE CAST Elyes Gabel (Body of Proof), Robert Patrick (The Unit), Katharine McPhee (introduced to you by Smash), Eddie Kaye Thomas (‘Til Death), Jadyn Wong (Being Erica) and Ari Stidham (Mad Men’s Harry Crane Huge)

THE SET-UP | Gabel plays Walter O’Brien, “one of the five smartest people alive” (presumably behind a Kardashian or two) and de facto leader of a veritable Swiss Army Knife of geniuses — including a behaviorist (Thomas), a mechanical whiz (Wong) and a “human calculator” (Stidham). Patrick is Cabe Gallo, a Homeland Security honcho who has a complicated past with Walter, yet needs his team of uber-brilliant social misfits to avert a massive airline disaster.

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THE FIRST IMPRESSION | If you — and by “you” I mean “someone other than Nina Tassler” — ever wondered, “What would The Big Bang Theory look like as a procedural?,” this is about it. It’s a grabby, fun premise, yet one that ultimately hinges on the cleverness of the fixes that Walter’s “Scorpion” team come up with each week. Because while the pilot chugs along at a good pace, features a couple of nifty hacks and stages a few cool set pieces, Scorpion Preview Pilotthe eventual save-the-day solution is patently absurd; avoiding such acute eyerollers in the future will be paramount. But pull that off and I’m on board, overtaxed DVR be damned.

No, McPhee does not play a brainiac; instead, she offers a nice tangent to Walter’s story, as a diner waitress whose young son, she learns, is a not “challenged” but a genius himself. (I tell no lies: The closing scene with her, Walter and the rugrat put a lump in my throat.) Her role is also to teach Scorpion’s misfits how to interact with the rest of society, a trope best doled out sparingly.

MORE FIRST IMPRESSIONS The CW’s Jane the Virgin, ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, Fox’s Red Band Society, CBS’ Madam Secretary, NBC’s State of Affairs, ABC’s black-ish, CBS’ Stalker, The CW’s The Flash, Fox’s Gotham

THE TVLINE BOTTOM LINE | Like (the super-charming) Jane the Virgin, Scorpion finds itself having to find an audience in a tough time slot — and one that CBS is not known to program with a drama. That said, no one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the draw of a CBS procedural.

Watch a preview for Scorpion, then vote in our poll below.