Scorpion is still a hoot and you should be watching it. HEAR ME OUT.
Way back when, a friend and I co-taught a class called Films You Can Dig: “Scientific” Cinema on the Rocks. We watched ten movies with geological themes and discussed the quality of the science within the film. Our biggest disagreement in the class dealt with Dante’s Peak and Volcano. The former, endorsed by the US Geological Survey, dealt with eruptions realistically and told a straightforward story (despite the sassy grandma character).1 Accurate-ish science was my partner’s concern: I preferred to focus on presentation, story, and entertainment value, declaring Volcano the superior film. Not only do you have TMZ‘s/The People’s Court‘s Harvey Levin conveying the race relations allegory2, but you have Tommy Lee Jones barking at Anne Heche “What’s magma?” I get it—not everyone was paying attention in their third grade science class but COME. ON.
Anyway, I told you that to tell you this: I love Scorpion for the exact same reasons that I defend Volcano. This is a show that knows exactly what it is, schlock and all.3 The characters are developed juuuuuuuuust enough so that you can tell what their respective skill sets are without necessarily learning names. Oddly, it’s Kat McPhee’s Paige that may be the most developed, though perhaps for the wrong reasons. She is supposed to be the audience surrogate/dumdum to help explain what is going on in the story and cut through the jargon and technobabble. However, the show knows this, and characters have asked point blank “what is she doing here?” HA!
Robert Patrick is the smartest of the bunch: cashing a paycheck and getting a healthy diet of scenery every time he’s onscreen. To be fair, everyone is over the top and not supported by the writing. All of the plots in the first five episodes have had elements of “sure, why not?” in terms of conflicts and resolutions. The stakes are intangible and there hasn’t been much in terms of real threats. Unless I’m forgetting something from episode two or three, I do not believe there have been any fatalities despite bombs, guns, and nuclear reactors going off willy nilly.
Despite all these drawbacks, Scorpion is delightful. I think I’m watching this show the way others watch The Real Housewives, in that I accept the reality these characters have created for themselves, even though it does not represent a reality in which any viewer exists. Scorpion isn’t trying to be prestige television4, but is one of the few scripted shows where it seems like everyone involved gets to play. For a show about geniuses, Scorpion is a lot of mindless fun.