Reviews

Scorpion (2014) TV Pilot Review at SDCC 2014

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If you’ve read my fall promo reviews you’ll know how excited I was by Scorpion. There was definitely a lot of geeking out and gushing over it and as such I named Scorpion my favourite promo of Upfronts. So as expected I was very excited to watch the pilot at Comic Con. I was also quite nervous. There is always that risk that when a promo excites you so much the pilot can then disappoint. Thus with conflicted feelings I made my way into Ballroom 20 to watch the pilot presentation and subsequent panel. Please note that this review is of the pilot screened at Comic Con, and there may be changes made to the final product airing in the fall. Also there are spoilers ahead.

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I had a book to write down notes that would shape this review. Those notes never materialised and I put my book away about 3 minutes into the pilot. I realised that this was such a fast paced show; I would neither have the time or energy to look away from the screen to write. I tell you this because I want you to understand how gripping Scorpion is from the very first to the very last second. It never missed a beat. I was literally on the edge of my seat the whole way through and when I looked around the room I saw others in exactly the same position. At points it felt like the entire audience we holding their breaths, the action so exhilarating and the stakes so high. In one absolutely astounding scene, an aeroplane has to glide just above a car in order to connect a cable. There were gasps of breath all round the room and in the aftermath clapping and cheering. The fact that the whole audience was in this awestruck state together made me realise that I was watching something very special.

One would think that with how fast moving and action packed I’ve described this pilot as there would be little emphasis on the characters and their personality and background. However, somehow the show runners have managed to fit that in too. What is more impressive is that they’ve managed to make each member of the team very likeable. The team almost remind me of the crew from Firefly, a bunch of people that should not fit together but inexplicably do, even forming a kind of dysfunctional family unit.

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Walter (Elyes Gabel) and Paige (Katharine McPhee)

The cast have incredible chemistry together and it will be interesting to see how those relationships develop. Already there is the hint of potential romance between main characters Walter (Elyes Gabel) and Paige (Katharine McPhee) but what is perhaps more interesting is the longstanding relationship between Walter and Agent Gallo (Robert Patrick) and their shady history. Eddie Kaye Thomas is my personal favourite of the pilot, playing psychiatrist Toby with such ease and bringing much needed comedic relief to this drama. His gambling addiction and dodgy dealings will no doubt rear their head throughout the series making him the character to watch. Jadyn Wong and Ari Stidham round off the cast playing the slightly stereotypical yet endearing Happy and Sylvester respectfully.

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As for the episodic content, I will admit, the downside of making a show about geniuses it that sometimes the lingo can get a little confusing for audiences. I did find this happening and at certain times I struggled with some of the concepts laid out and where certain ideas the characters got even came from. However if you can get round the technical terms and difficult science, the show still remains entirely enjoyable. The plot did suffer from certain absurdities. While I heartily enjoyed the plane/car scene mentioned earlier, I couldn’t help thinking how unrealistic it was. Even though the show is based on a true story, you can tell they’ve embellished a lot. However if I asked myself the question ‘Did the absurdity of the plot affect my appreciation of the show?’ the answer would be no. While others may disagree, I found myself lapping up the crazy ideas and outrageous action sequences. I mean look at the Sharknado films, they’re absolutely ridiculous but people love them. I guess it all depends on how seriously you view your TV.

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Finally onto the future of the show, already relationships have been established and questions surrounding character backgrounds have been raised which provides a platform from which the show can continue from. It feels as if it will be a procedurals show, Agent Gallo will present them with a problem and the team will try to solve it. Hopefully this will not become mundane although I can’t help thinking the show would instead benefit from a long running problem/storyline. Also with a pilot so action packed how do they plan to keep up that energy every week? I’m sure the budget won’t allow for car chases and aeroplanes each episode so where do they go from there?

The panel after the pilot presentation attempted to shed some light on these questions. It consisted of executive producers Nicholas Wootton, Walter O’Brien (the man who this show is based on), Nick Santora, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and cast members Elyes Gabel, Katharine McPhee and Robert Patrick. Having Walter O’Brien there was a definite bonus, and finding out about his heavy involvement in the show inspired confidence in both its quality and future. Also being in a room with one of the smartest people in the world was pretty cool. Important points raised about the show included Nick Santora’s statement that the show is ultimately about the characters; however the high level of action will continue with Alex Kurtzman reflecting that. Robert Patrick mentioned that his character would rely heavily on Paige to bring the team together whilst Elyes Gabel reassured fans that he had closely worked with the real Walter to better portray his character. However most promising was Nicholas Wootton stating that there is a possibility that later on Walter could face off against an evil genius or “black hat hacker” which could provide that longer plotline the show needs.

Both the pilot and panel were very enjoyable and as I mentioned earlier I exited the room feeling I had seen something truly special. Whilst the show does face some hurdles it has the potential to be a real success for CBS. With strong executive producers and cast members and a pilot that thrilled audiences let’s hope this show can live up to its expectations. Scorpion premieres at 9pm ET on September 22nd and I’ll be counting down the days.


Imogen

Writer and Whedon fan girl

Email : nerdgeistimogen@gmail.com

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