A hacker helping Homeland Security would have made a great documentary, instead of what we get in Scorpion.

2014-09-25_1945Given Scorpion is “Based on a True Story” I can’t help but feel it would have made a fascinating Documentary, yet Hollywood couldn’t help but ramp it up with an action-based procedural, coming to TEN.

As a result much of its credibility is hacked into its plot, which works best if you don’t demand too much of it’s over-the-top style.

The story is based around genius Walter O’Brien whom we first meet as a child in Ireland (denoted by green, green farms) when he is raided by gun-wielding security after hacking into NASA systems.

“We got the target. He’s just a kid,” says one.

Flashforward to present-day America and he’s all grown up in the form of Elyes Gabel, this time commandeered by Special agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick) to assist Homeland Security with the latest technical threat facing the nation.

The LAX control tower has lost touch with 240 planes that are about to come showering down on the city and the Air Force may have to shoot them down for fear of killing even more civilians (is this but still the true story?).

By now Walter has attracted a team of misfit hackers including Toby Curtis (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong) and Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham) who all appear to be laying low from authorities but are pressured by Gallo into respectable roles.

“You wanna do something meaningful? Here’s your chance,” whispers Gallo (he whispers a lot).

Obviously they agree to this mission impossible and it becomes a race against time to find a way to reboot the systems or come up with some other ingenious way of making contact. Walter conveniently remembers a local diner with a reliable signal (seriously) where waitress Paige (Katharine McPhee) is keeping watch on her own genius child, Ralph -not to be confused with the genius kid in Touch.

Along the way there is jeopardy, driving music, cars driving against green screen, light bulb moments, stock-standard car chases and silly dialogue such as, “I’m the dumb waitress, but I’m smart enough to know you’re scared.”

Or how about this from an alarmed pilot, “I’ve got 240 souls on board. Please tell me there’s something else you can do.”

Big-eyed Elyes Gabel is likeable enough in the lead, but Katherine McPhee (Smash) has to deal with earnest material before turning into an action sidekick. I couldn’t understand much of the dialogue from Jadyn Wong, whose diction was just too rapid.

The final stunt involving a jet airliner was so ludicrous I broke out in fits of laughter. Maybe I should have had some big screen popcorn and I might have been persuaded to cheer.

TEN’s fast-tracking of this one suggests they know this may not fly -pardon the pun- so I completely see the fuzzy logic in getting it on screen fast (it launched well in the US thanks to a Big Bang lead-in). What I don’t get is the 6:30 timeslot without a strong lead-in or the suitability of content. It would be better suited to 8:30 where it would not require classification cuts. Scorpion ain’t no Merlin.

Overall this strikes me as a lost opportunity. Ultimately somebody should have asked, ‘How can a show about geniuses be so dumb?’

Scorpion airs 6:30pm Sunday on TEN.

20 Responses

  1. @unclepete: I simply can’t watch AOS, I find the entire cast is unengaging, but I love Scorpion … it grabbed my attention and did not let go … AOS fails to do that for me. In this case, the reality part is just that there are no “aliens” involved and that is a nice change for this SciFi (escapist) style of show. Torchwood without aliens? I can’t help what I like and don’t agree with this review … though I usually am on the same page with most of what David says. 🙂

  2. @ unclepete …the character if not autistic…but a genius….they tend to find it difficult to relate to so called normal folk….
    Again I say…just TV….negative comments wont stop me liking what I like.

  3. Michael, I like a good bit of escapism as much as the next guy. My favourite genre is Sci-Fi! However, when one of the selling points of your show is that it is “based on a true story” (even if that basis is itself a fiction, as is being shown at the moment by various sources) then you need to at least try to ground the story in reality. This fails on every level to do so. AOS, Chuck etc. never pretended to be anything other than pure escapism. Because of this alone, they succeed whereas this show does not.

    As to the characters finding “acceptance”, anyone who has any experience with anyone with autism will realise that this is probably the most far-fetched bit of the storyline. Which is unfortunate as this is one area in which the show might have been able to shine.

  4. I absolutely loved this!
    Scorpion is everytning that Agents Of Shield fails to be. Everyone is engaging, I enjoyed the story and love how these “misfits” are finding acceptance.
    Don’t know what others here were expecting, it is not a documentary. It is almost SciFi but not quite. The time slot is wrong, as usual.

  5. My tweens, and their parents, thought this was the funniest “drama” any of us have seen since….can’t think of another. And SFO, SAN, PSP and LAS no good to divert to? And no plane had the TCAS traffic collision avoidance system (now mandatory) to prevent them running into each other?

  6. I enjoyed it….I just took it for what it was…did not try over think it…it is just a TV show….
    I can relate to the lead character…I know that person in my life….
    Having said all that….the mere fact that I like it …will probably mean it wont survive.

  7. @Secret Squirrel
    Actually the writers did explain that, Long Beach and Burbank were out to because they automatically update from LAX (updating LAX was going to fix them). It, like the rest of the show makes no sense what-so-ever.

    Scorpion is the worst network TV show I have ever seen. It follows that if Cop Rock had followed the TBBT it would have been a hit!

  8. @Chuck128 – It actually reminded me more of “Numb3rs”. Watching it now and I notice that it even has (at least) one past star of Numb3rs in it (the co-pilot). Unfortunately, it isn’t a patch on Numb3rs though, not even half the show.

  9. I knew this was going to be stupid but having the threat of the planes (all 240 of them?) needing to be shot down while still under the control of a competent pilot is completely unbelievable.

    Planes aren’t going to start falling out of the sky or crashing into each other just because they’ve lost contact with the local control tower. These towers only control airspace out to about 16km anyway and planes with sufficient fuel can redirect to nearby airports such as Burbank or Long Beach.

    The 6:30pm slot is a bt of a give-away. Ten obviously think that this will mostly appeal to children.

  10. Was Julia thinking of this when she said “Don’t write crap. Can’t be too hard”? Obviously it is.
    ‘A team of terrorists is holding the entire airport hostage. The terrorists have seized control of all electrical equipment affecting all planes. All aircraft have to remain in the air, with fuel running low, McClane (oops, I mean O’Brien) will need to be fast.’
    Die Hard 2.5 anyone?

  11. The programming reeks of desperation because Modern Family will no longer hold up against The Block and The X Factor so Ten’s share on Sunday is sinking below 10% and leaving them without a platform to promote shows for the week.

    O’brien is an intelligent, egomaniacal, self publicist , ex hacker who runs a security consulting business. Not particularly important or interesting TV drama. Which is why the truth went out the window early on in the process. They kept the name Scorpion and made a procedural action show chop full of quips instead.

    Will be interesting to see how it goes week 2 in the US when it’s lead in is Mom.

  12. It sounds like ‘Chuck’ with more errr… Chucks, mixed with a number of movie scenarios-as you said David, a strange choice for that timeslot. Will almost certainly bomb and be sent to a secondary channel and or late night as a filler.

Leave a Reply

Cast your vote in the 15th TVT Awards