Pilot Perception: Scorpion

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Scorpion, CBS in the U.S. and City TV in Canada, Mondays at 9/8c

The Pedigree: The show was created and written by Nick Santora (Vegas, Prison Break), who executive produces with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Fringe). The pilot was directed by Justin Lin (Community), who is also an executive producer.

The Cast & How You Know Them: Scorpion stars Elyes Gabel (Body of Proof), Robert Patrick (True Blood), Katharine McPhee (Smash), Jadyn Wong (Being Erica), Ari Stidham (Huge), and Eddie Kay Thomas (‘Til Death).

The Premise: Scorpion is about a team of misfit geniuses who are enlisted by Homeland Security to solve a crisis and wind up working for the government on a continuing basis on complicated, high-tech national security issues. While doing this they also work on fitting in to the world around them with the help of a woman who is raising a genius son of her own.

A Taste:


What Works: I didn’t expect much going into this pilot, and I was surprised to find that I loved it. In retrospect, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as I’m a sucker for stories about misfits thrown together to save the world. The pilot was fast-paced and the characters pulled me in immediately. The cast has good chemistry, especially Gabel and McPhee, and young Riley B. Smith with everyone. The concept of “genius” has been handled sensitively so far — the characters aren’t just punchlines, but they aren’t perfect saviors either, and I was impressed with how frank the team was with McPhee’s character about how difficult her son’s life would be in some ways.

What Doesn’t: The set-up here was pretty preposterous, as far how much power and access both this one Homeland Security agent and the team were given, but that’s the kind of thing I guess we have to just go with or not. And how many ridiculously technologically difficult national security crises can there be, exactly? I guess we’ll find out. It’s pretty clear that a lot of the actual technology involved in the problems and solutions on this show is going to be silly and unrealistic, so if that kind of thing bugs you, you might want to sit this one out. And while I mentioned that I was impressed with the treatment of the characters so far, I’m worried it will be all too easy for the writing to fall into thoughtless stereotypes, both for the geniuses and for McPhee’s “normal” character.

Our Favorite Line: “I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your son is a genius.”

You Might Like This if you like procedurals with a technological bent, and stories about people reluctantly teaming up to save the world and accidentally forming found families in the process. It reminded me of Leverage and also a bit of White Collar.

If You’re Interested: CBS is rerunning the pilot on Saturday at 9/8c, or catch it on the CBS or City TV sites or On Demand, and then set your DVR for Monday at 9/8c.

(Photo courtesy of CBS.)

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