Numb3rs, now deep into its fourth season, is my favorite Friday night television show, and within the top three for the whole week. And, I have to admit, those three rotate pretty regularly based on individual episodes.
The series is produced by Tony Scott (Top Gun, True Romance) and Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner). It was created by husband and wife team Nicholas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, who still contribute many of the scripts. With this many families involved in the series, it's no wonder relationships feature at the core of the show every week.
The general conceit of the series is that the FBI uses mathematicians and math to solve crimes and catch criminals. When I first saw the series advertised, I was interested in David Krumholtz (university professor Charlie Eppes) and Rob Morrow (FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Don Eppes). Krumholtz has been in movies and television since he was a kid, and Morrow was a centerpiece in the outstanding Northern Exposure.
I tuned in that first season not really knowing what to expect. Then I was completely blown away by the layered plots and introduction of mathematical concepts that made me wish I’d at least picked up a minor in math while cruising through college collecting the bits and pieces of my Bachelor of Arts in English.
But at the heart of this series are the relationships between the characters. As brothers, Charlie and Don are immediately and irrevocably as different as siblings can be. Charlie is a certified genius and Don is a hard-edged, no-nonsense FBI team leader. They fight and argue and strive to understand each other, and viewers are as gripped by the mysteries of their relationship as they are the cases the FBI works on.
Season three’s episodes “Hardball,” “Finders Keepers,” “Takeout,” “One Hour,” and “Burn Rate” all focus – to a degree – on the brothers’ understanding of each other. “Hardball” deals with the possibility that Don could have been a professional baseball player, kind of a roads not taken episode. “Finders Keepers” reveals that Charlie has a higher security rating that Don does, which causes surprise and a little jealousy that gets in the way of things. “Burn Rate” pushes up the heat between Don and Charlie as their differences get in the way of developing the case for a time.