Scorpion: </endshow>

CBS’s expensive-looking new show, Scorpion, is a bad show. A very, very, very bad show. The kind of bad show where the pilot episode’s climax occurs as a airplane and Ferrari improbably match speeds so that data can be transmitted between a LAN cable and a laptop at 200 miles per hour while no one’s hair or clothes blow in the wind.

You know, like at the end of Twister when Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton tethered themselves to a water pipe with a leather belt in the middle of an F5 tornado, clothes equally unbothered. Scorpion is worse than that.

Something of an action thriller version of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory but with less credibility, the first fifteen minutes tell you everything you need to know about the characters. They’re a rag-tag gang of misfits: mechanical prodigy, a world-class shrink, a human calculator, a genius computer expert, and a working mom and her autistic child. The autistic child is the one with the most appealing personality.

CBS calls Scorpion (or </scorpion> as it is stylishly, modernly, moronically formatted by “hip” CBS marketers who probably relished their in-joke across their various AOL accounts) “loosely based” on a real-life computer expert. Calling this show “loosely based” on anything resembling reality is like saying people are “kinda” suffering from Ebola in Africa. Their suffering may be greater, but we have Scorpion.

The pilot’s plot, all rapid-fire dialogue and nonsense, revolves around an impending disaster at LAX where, McAfee be damned, someone has uploaded a virus into the control tower software, immediately causing all systems to degrade with 56 planes circling in the air. Was this a terrorist attack? Was this a random act of evil? Or someone surfing German scheisse videos in the tower? We’ll never know, as the show doesn’t bother with details or logic.


Instead, we cut to Homeland Security agent Cabe Gallo, sort of the yard sale Agent Coulson to this Revenge of the Nerds Avengers (sadly minus Lamar and his floppy javelin) Their first act as a team to resolve the disaster is to set up shop in a local Los Angeles diner, of course owned by an illegal alien who immediately flees the scene once the Feds show up.

“Federal Agent Gallo, I need to commandeer your diner for a matter of national security” is an actual line spoken by actor Robert Patrick, one of the only real names of the show. It’s sad, too, because he showed much more range and depth as T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

There are other name, charisma-free actors here, including American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee who no doubt once imagined things couldn’t get any worse than NBC’s Smash. By the time we get to the above-mentioned climax, bending all laws of physics, decency, and logic, you start to long for the complexities and subtleties of that Broadway catfight drama.

So, Scorpion gets my early vote as the worst of the fall season, and I’m stunned that it’s odiousness made the order to pilot. Shows like this are the reason viewers are fleeing to cable dramas that inconveniently focus on silly things like characters and story depth.

If TVs Golden Age (of drama) is nearing an end, then Scorpion will be written on its tombstone.


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