scorpionAmong the shows I was looking forward to this new season was Scorpion, the new drama on CBS at 9pm on Mondays. Supposedly based on a true story, and that claim appears more than a little dodgy, Scorpion sets itself apart with not only likeable actors in good roles, but crucially without any bad ones. It’s silly, preposterous, sit back and don’t think too much about it fun and as such entertains well. Given a smidgen of luck in what is a potentially difficult day and time slot, Scorpion might well get the needed opportunity to build an audience for an extended run. It’s not as if CBS needs another hit on their hands, but they might just have found one with Scorpion.

Elyes Gabel stars as Walter O’Brien, a real life Irish computer expert whose claims of genius and accomplishments have been questioned by a number of authors. The controversy is a shame, because as a base character Gabel works well as the stereotypical square peg in the round hole of life who, along with his band of equally impressive misfits, is capable of solving the impossible. Born in London, Gabel starred in a number of British productions including the medical drama Casualty before turning up as Rakharo in Game of Thrones – along with about every other employable actor it would seem in the UK. Brilliant and likable is sometimes a hard combination to pull off, but the actor has so far delivered a strong winnable performance.

The Scorpion team consists of Toby, a Harvard trained behaviorist who has a serious gambling habit, Sylvester a human calculator who always worries about what could go wrong and Happy the mechanical prodigy with personal relationship issues. It just screams lame and the lovely thing is, it isn’t even close. On the contrary Eddie Kaye Thomas, Ari Stidham and Jadyn Wong as Toby, Sylvester and Happy respectively present characters with nuance and quirks that immediately draw the audience in wanting to know more about their respective back stories. From an intellectual standpoint this really shouldn’t work, but that’s the beauty of entertainment. Sometimes when you put it all together you end up with a very watchable show.

Katharine McPhee is the waitress Paige, with the autistic son, who becomes a vital link between the team and the rest of society while film and television veteran Robert Patrick, well known for his roles in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the X-Files and numerous guest appearances in everything from NCIS to Psych, Burn Notice and Sons of Anarchy, is on board as Homeland Security Agent Cabe Gallo.

That it does indeed seem to just work is a credit not only to the actors, but Nick Santora who developed the show and directors Justin Lin and Bobby Roth who deliver a nice pacing to the first couple of episodes. Scorpion is clear proof that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make an entertaining show. Good actors, likable characters and a story that moves along at a reasonable clip can more than do the job. It’s a show that I plan to watch every week and there are only a few I can say that about.

– Wallace Poulter

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