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