Friday, October 14, 2005


There is this new series which is showing on AXN called Numb3rs.

Knowing me, anything to do with numbers fascinates me.

The series is ala CSI. The only difference is that instead of using evidence found at the crime scene to catch the bad guys, they use numbers. Or more precisely, mathematics.

Apparently, it’s based on actual FBI cases. The executive producers are Ridley and Tony Scott.

The series stars Rob Morrow as FBI agent Don Eppes and David Krumholtz as his mathematical genius brother, Charlie. We also have a quirky and eccentric character, very similar to John Cage of Ally McBeal fame, played by none other than Peter MacNicol (woo, what a surprise!).

The older brother as FBI agent Don Eppes

MacNicol is Charlie’s physicist colleague.

Surely, he is being typecast and it is beginning to get stale. Thankfully, he doesn’t appear too often. Still, it’s too early in the series to tell. (It’s only in its fourth episode in the U.S.)

In the pilot, the FBI had a serial rapist cum killer on a loose. Using a water sprinkler as the light-bulb-creative-idea-source i.e. based on the locations of the water drops that fell to the ground, the origin / location of water sprinkler can be found and as a corollary, based on the location of where his victims were found, the point-of-origin / killer house can be deduced.

So Charlie came out with an elegant formulae (which, of course was not shown) to determine the point-of-origin. Hmmph, they didn't even mention which method or theory he used.

But alas, after the origin has been found, where the area had only about 30 males and all of them had their DNA tested, none of them was the killer.

How now, brown cow?

The maths genius, Charlie

Their father, Alan, played by Judd Hirsch, said something which only people who have lived long enough could say – It’s not your model that is faulty. Your formula is correct. It is the thing we are searching for that is not right.

In layman’s terms, the killer doesn’t just stay in his house and rot, he goes out too. Where? His workplace, of course.

As such, the formula was tweaked a little to determine two probable locations. And they managed to narrow down their suspects to four and one of them had a criminal record and when they go after him, he got panicky and held an officer hostage and bang, bang, case solved.

Interesting stuff, really.

Another gem that was spouted by Dr Fleinhardt, the physicist. A mathematical formulae may be elegant and may capture all the variables, but when human beings are involved, when human behaviour is thrown in, the results it produces is often inaccurate. Humans are imperfect, irrational creatures, thus far from elegant. Make the formulae less elegant, less beautiful, and then you might find that the results are more useful.

Needless to say, I was paraphrasing.

Oh wait, why the heck did I do that, when there is imdb? Silly me.

Here is what he actually said.

Charlie: Larry, something went wrong, and I don't know what, and now it's like I can't even think.
Dr. Fleinhardt: Well, let me guess: you tried to solve a problem involving human behavior, and it blew up in your face.
Charlie: Yeah, pretty much.
Dr. Fleinhardt: Okay, well, Charles, you are a mathematician, you're always looking for the elegant solution. Human behavior is rarely, if ever, elegant. The universe is full of these odd bumps and twists. You know, perhaps you need to make your equation less elegant, more complicated; less precise, more descriptive. It's not going to be as pretty, but it might work a little bit better. Charlie, when you're working on human problems, there's going to be pain and disappointment. You gotta ask yourself, is it worth it?

Truthfully, Numb3rs is engaging but not as much as CSI. The case was pretty straightforward actually.

Hopefully, the characters get more interesting and we get to see more of their personal lives; the cases get more complicated and difficult; some shirtless scenes of the leads; they use more of those stop-motion techniques; the producers show us more insight into how maths is basically everywhere and how useful it is so that more people will take up maths, like how CSI made forensic science cool and students are enrolling in these courses at universities …. Bla, bla …

I better stop here. You rolled your eyes at the last part of there, didn’t you?

Anyway, I will probably be catching it every week from now on. After all, it is mathematics-related. Just like evidence, numbers don’t lie.

Numb3rs is shown on AXN, Mondays (9.00 p.m.); repeats on Tuesdays (12.00 p.m.) and Sundays (11.00 p.m.)


Chris said...

Lol honestly, I've never seen any TV programs ever since i discover Video Tape, VCD and DVD! ;D

But this sounds like an awesome series! ^^

Derek said...

Yeah, go catch and episode or two and see whether it's your cup of tea. ;P

canardbidon said...

hey derek! u shld have come out with us on fri! next time yeah :)

Kit said...'s really my cup of tea, sadly I only have chance to watch Astro at hometown...sigh!

Derek said...

canardbidon: Sure thing. Jsut give me a call.

kit: Hi there and welcome to my blog. ;P

Maybe you can go to a friend's house to watch?

Kit said...

A friend of mine working in Astro which quite nearby, maybe I can watch there?! :P