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Posted to Teevee at 10:32 PM on Jul 29, 2005

Let me state, for the record, that I really dislike that number 3 in the middle of the title.

Also allow me to state that it was hard at first for me to imagine Rob Morrow playing anybody but Joel Fleischman. Northern Exposure very nearly changed my life and as such, Morrow kind of became Joel in my head. Even in Quiz Show, one of my favorite movies, he kind of never quite gets away from Fleischman.

Maybe Morrow has become a better actor, or maybe time has allowed me a different perspective, but he really nails his character on Numbers (bleh. I'm writing it without the dumb "3" for the rest of the review) : tough, streetwise, athletic, and stand-up. Basically the exact opposite of Fleischman. He really is pretty great. Don Eppes, his character, is an FBI agent in Los Angeles. We are told that he was once a minor-league baseball player. He lives with his father (Judd Hirsch) and brother (David Krumholtz).

Morrow is ostensibly the star of the show, but the show is actually about Krumholtz's character, Charlie. Charlie is a young math prodigy. He is a tenured professor at a fictitious southern California university. He uses his gifts to assist the FBI in solving crimes. He's basically a genius and can see the tiniest clues in the most obscure places. He makes Don and his FBI cohorts look kind of bad.

This is the main complaint I have with this show. Charlie swoops in and saves the day in nearly every episode. And that takes me out of the show a bit. The plots are often contorted and twisted and filled with holes in order to allow Charlie to crack almost every case on his own. Don's two closest colleagues, played by the great Sabrina Lloyd and Alimi Ballard, are little more than background figures who provide exposition now and then. The over-reliance on Charlie feels a bit contrived, especially considering that he already has a full-time job. In one of the very first episodes, Charlie plays a much smaller role in the investigation du jour. We see him at work and at home at the university. The math tie-in is subtle and the focus is on the two brothers and their contrasting personalities. That's what hooked me on the show and that's what's sorely missing now.

Despite that, I like the show a lot. Krumholtz is just as good as Morrow. You get the sense that Charlie is sheltered and going through his life in kind of a bubble. It's implied that Don and Lloyd's character once were in a relationship and it's made equally clear that Charlie has probably never even been on a date. Yet, he has an odd charisma and poise.


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