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TV SHOW REVIEW Don't count on success for 'Numb3rs'



Published: Sat, January 22, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



CBS' latest crime drama does not measure up.

By HAL BOEDEKER

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

The drama "Numb3rs" doesn't add up, and the first hint of trouble is the cutesy title. The CBS series struggles to push mathematics to the fore in television's ubiquitous crime-solving.

After the brainy hero shares his equation for finding a serial rapist, an FBI boss scoffs, "This doesn't make any sense to me."

Many viewers are bound to agree. Others will find the pat number-spinning defies credibility.

CBS, which seeks another hit to build on its ratings dominance, will give "Numb3rs" a preview at 10 p.m. Sunday after the AFC championship game.

That prime showcase and the drama's big-name executive producers suggest there's a special quality to "Numb3rs." It's the first television series from sibling directors Ridley Scott ("Gladiator") and Tony Scott ("Top Gun"). Yet after all the fancy equations and brilliant thinking, the opener settles for predictable storytelling.

Star reunion

The show gathers so many familiar actors that it could be mistaken for a TV Land convention. Rob Morrow of "Northern Exposure" spits out orders as a harried FBI agent. Emmy-winner Judd Hirsch of "Taxi" meddles merrily as his concerned father.

Sabrina Lloyd of "Sports Night" casts worried glances as Morrow's driven partner, and Anthony Heald of "Boston Public" fumes as their demanding boss in the Los Angeles office. Emmy-winner Peter MacNicol of "Ally McBeal" pops in as a nagging physicist. What a cast. What a waste.

Television buffs will quickly realize that the actors have limited roles in a grim crime procedural. The show drains all the fun out of Morrow and Lloyd, although Hirsch manages to jazz up his scenes.

The series' most promising wrinkle is its family theme. Morrow's agent, Don Eppes, turns for help to his younger brother, Charlie (David Krumholtz), an energetic math professor.




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