'Scorpion': TV Review

Scorpion Walter O'Brien - H 2014
Monty Brinton/CBS; AP Images

Scorpion Walter O'Brien - H 2014

An eccentric genius and a group of "brilliant misfits" combine to help Homeland Security. Sounds goofy, but it's inspired by someone considered very important by the government 

The real-life inspiration might be more interesting than the actual show, but it's only a pilot and this genius-and-misfits combination could end up being entertaining

The new CBS drama Scorpion is sometimes referred to as the hourlong, not-funny version of Big Bang Theory, because it employs some of the same super-genius-with-social-issues ideas as the comedy.

While that might help draw a curious crowd, I'm not sure it's going to ultimately help make Scorpion, which is based on a very good idea but executed in the pilot with too much sap and manipulation, a long-standing hit.

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What might? Having the good intentions and premise of the pilot find itself more fully in future episodes (which, given that it's being done on CBS, entirely likely). Given that I liked what Scorpion could become as I winced through the heavy-handed parts of the pilot, let's hope that happens.

If the series can live up to the backstory of its real-life inspiration that would be fantastic (seriously, take a peek at that bio). Scorpion is about "eccentric genius Walter O'Brien and his team of brilliant misfits who comprise the last line of defense against complex high-tech threats of the modern age," according to CBS. They do this by being pulled into Homeland Security and given the green light, which is only mildly alarming, about the fate of the world.

The series stars Elyes Gabel as O'Brien; Jadyn Wong, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Ari Stidham as the brilliant misfits; and the impossibly lovely Katharine McPhee as a waitress with a son who O'Brien and The Misfits immediately figure out is one of them. Robert Patrick is the Homeland Security tough.

Read more 'Scorpion': What Happens When a Certified Genius Crashes the Writers Room?

It's a solidly constructed CBS drama pilot per usual, though it's overly sentimental in this first hour, pandering and a lot broader than it probably needed to be. But the cast is good and the pilot's over-the-top nature (there's an airliner involved) hints at a combination of nerd babble mixed with action and that's not the worst thing you'll see on TV this season.

Like ABC's Forever, which also premieres Monday, Scorpion falls into that underdeveloped middle ground of pilots where one episode probably won't be enough to judge how it will end up — but if you want a little mindless fun (ironic, given the concept), then there's not much to lose.

Email: Tim.Goodman@THR.com
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