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Numb3rs

Numb3rs

NUMB3RS (pronounced Numbers) is an American television show produced by brothers Ridley and Tony Scott. It follows FBI Special Agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) and his mathematical genius brother, Charlie Eppes (David Krumholtz), who helps Don solve crimes for the FBI. Created by Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, the program is produced by CBS Paramount Network Television and airs on the CBS network in the U.S.

The show focuses equally on the relationships between Don Eppes, his brother Charlie Eppes and their father, Alan Eppes (Judd Hirsch), and on the brothers' efforts to fight crime, normally in Los Angeles. A typical episode begins with a crime, which is subsequently investigated by a team of FBI agents led by Don and mathematically described by Charlie, with the help of Larry Fleinhardt (Peter MacNicol) and Amita Ramanujan (Navi Rawat). The insights provided by Charlie's mathematics are always in some way crucial to solving the crime.

The series was the most popular show airing on Friday evenings throughout its first four seasons. Numb3rs has been renewed for a fifth season starting October 3, 2008.

Cast and characters

The show revolves around three groups of characters: the FBI, mathematicians at CalSci and the Eppes family.

Temporary characters on the show are often named after famous mathematicians. For example, in episode 8 of season 2 one of the criminals is named Rolle, and Charlie's father mentions a meeting with a man named Robert Peterson.

Episodes

Season 1

The first season run of the show aired between January 23, 2005 and May 13, 2005 at 10pm on Fridays. It sees the start of the working relationship between Los Angeles' FBI department and Charlie Eppes. The main FBI agents are Charlie's brother, Don Eppes, and Terry Lake, as well as David Sinclair. Don and Charlie's father, Alan Eppes, provides emotional support for the pair, while Professor Larry Fleinhardt and doctoral student Amita Ramanujan provide mathematical support and insights to Charlie. Season 1 was a half season, producing only 13 episodes. Sabrina Lloyd played Terry Lake, an agent in this season, she was later replaced by Diane Farr, who played Megan Reeves.

Season 2

The second season run of the show aired between September 23, 2005 and May 19, 2006, again at 10pm on Fridays. Season two sees several changes to Don's FBI team: Terry Lake is reassigned to Washington and two new members join Don and David Sinclair: Megan Reeves and Colby Granger. Charlie is challenged on one of his long-standing pieces of mathematical work and also starts work on a new theory, Cognitive Emergence Theory. Larry sells his home and lives a nomadic lifestyle, while he becomes romantically involved with Megan. Amita receives an offer for an assistant professor position at Harvard University, but is plagued by doubt as her relationship with Charlie is challenged and her career is in upheaval. Alan begins work and dating again, though he struggles with the loss of his wife, and both he and Charlie have a dream of her.

Season 3

Numb3rs was renewed for a third season, which began airing in North America (specifically USA and Canada) at 10pm on Friday September 22, 2006 and ended on May 18, 2007. Charlie and Amita intensify their relationship, as do Larry and Megan, especially after her kidnapping. Amita has troubles adjusting in her new role as a CalSci professor, and Larry announces his leave of absence—he will be on the space station for six months, which greatly distresses Charlie. Dr. Mildred Finch, the newly-appointed Chair of the CalSci Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy Division, initially troubles Charlie and his colleagues, as Alan dates her. Meanwhile, Don dates Agent Liz Warner, questions his ethics and self-worth, and receives counseling. Charlie sees Don's therapist and the two understand one another more. Despite Don's concerns, Alan engages in some FBI consulting with his knowledge of engineering, and Larry returns from the space station, although disillusioned. The finale wraps up with a revelation that Colby was actually a double agent for the Chinese.

Noticeable changes from previous seasons include the removal of the opening credit sequence (credits are now done during the first segment of the show), the absence of Peter MacNicol's character for much of the season, and the absence of Diane Farr's character for a few episodes. Peter MacNicol appeared in the first eleven episodes before leaving for the television show 24, but returned to Numb3rs for the 21st episode of season 3. His character's absence was written into the show by having him become a payload specialist on the International Space Station. Diane Farr, pregnant for most of the season, left the show for maternity leave in episode 18, her character's absence explained as a special assignment to the Department of Justice.

Season 4

The season premiere aired on September 30 2007 in the same Friday night time slot as in previous seasons, 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Due to the writer's strike, only 12 episodes were initially produced. However, once the strike ended, CBS announced the show's return April 4 2008 with 6 episodes. The season ended on May 16, 2008.

As this season starts, Colby Granger escapes from jail, and is revealed to be a triple agent. He then rejoins the team. Don and Liz break up halfway through this season, after Liz has trouble with Don's trust issues. Amita's parents coming to visit is a secondary theme throughout most of the season. Because of her work at the D.O.J, Megan is conflicted with her work, and turns to Larry for help. Near the end of the season, Don's girlfriend from season 2, Robin Brooks, returns. Don and Robin then continue their relationship. Charlie goes through F.B.I training camp because he has been working with Don for several years, and wants to see what his brother does. In the season finale, Megan leaves the team to move back to D.C, and Charlie goes head to head with Don about a case. This causes Charlie to send information to scientists in Pakistan. He is subsequently arrested and has his security clearance revoked, so he can no longer help Don on cases. At the end of the episode, when Don drives away to another case, Charlie admits that giving up FBI work will be harder than he thinks.

Several characters from previous seasons did not return in season 4. These characters include Mildred Finch and Ian Edgerton.

Season 5

DVD releases

Season # Release Dates Ep # Length Discs Region 1 Extras
US, Canada (R1) UK
(R2)
Australia (R4)
Season 1

May 30,
2006
October 2, 2006 October 5, 2006 13 544 min. 4 Cast and crew commentaries for five episodes, "Crunching Numb3rs: Season 1," "Point of Origin: Inside the Unaired Pilot," "Do The Math: The Caltech Analysis," and "Charlievision: FX Sequences 1.0," blooper reels, and audition reels.
Season 2

October 10, 2006 July 9,
2007
June 6,
2007
24 1037 min. 6 Cast and crew commentaries for six episodes, "Crunching Numb3rs: Season Two," two "behind the scenes" videos (one with Nicholas Falacci, the other with David Krumholtz), and a blooper reel.
Season 3

September 25, 2007 TBD 10 July 2008 24 1029 min. 6 Cast and crew commentaries for five episodes, "Crunching Numb3rs: Season 3," a mini-documentary of the Eppes house, a blooper reel, and a tour of the Eppes' house set.
Season 4

September 30, 2008 TBD TBD 18 733 min. TBD TBD

Awards

Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, the show's creators, have won several awards for the show, including the Carl Sagan Award for Public Understanding of Science in 2006, and the National Science Board's Public Service Award in 2007. Also, the show's stunt coordinator, Jim Vickers, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Stunt Coordination in 2006 for episode 14 of Season 2, "Harvest".

Representation of mathematics

We all use math every day; to predict weather, to tell time, to handle money. Math is more than formulas or equations; it’s logic, it’s rationality, it’s using your mind to solve the biggest mysteries we know.

For a list of mathematics used in the series, on an episode by episode basis, please see the List of Numb3rs episodes article

Several mathematicians work as consultants for each episode. Actual mathematics is presented in the show; the equations on the chalkboards are mathematically valid, and are somewhat applicable to the situations presented in each show. This mathematical validity and applicability of the equations has been asserted by professional mathematicians.

An education program called We All Use Math Every Day provides educational resources based on the mathematics featured in episodes of the show. The program is run by Texas Instruments in association with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The material is created by teachers and mathematicians, and is aimed at grades 9-12.

A book entitled The Numbers Behind Numb3rs: Solving Crime with Mathematics (ISBN 0452288576; published August 28, 2007) has been written by Keith Devlin and Dr. Gary Lorden, a consultant to the show, explaining some of the mathematical techniques that have been used both in actual FBI cases and in other law enforcement departments.

Since the premiere season, the blog edited by Prof. Mark Bridger (Northeastern University) has explained the mathematics behind each episode of the show.

Wolfram Research (the maker of Mathematica) is the chief math consultant, reviewing scripts and providing background mathematics for the show. Starting with season four, their website in collaboration with CBS is entitled "The math behind NUMB3RS".

Concerns from mathematicians

At least one mathematician consultant to the show has expressed concern with its use of math, which is inserted after the script is written, to provide plausible sounding jargon, rather than having consultants involved at all stages of the story development.

Other criticisms include the show's portrayal of female mathematicians and inappropriate aspects of the relationship between Charlie Eppes and his graduate student Amita Ramanujan.

Production

The idea of Numb3rs was generated in the late 1990s when Nick Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, the show's creators, attended a lecture given by Bill Nye, a popular science educator. The premise of the show is similar to that of Mathnet.

Gabriel Macht was originally cast to portray the character of Don Eppes. Also, the original concept for the show had the events take place at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; this was later changed to the fictional California Institute of Science, commonly called CalSci. Scenes which take place at CalSci are filmed at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Southern California. One of the most frequent campus locations at Caltech is the vicinity of Millikan Library, Caltech.jpg, including the bridge over Millikan Pond, the Trustees room, and the arcades of nearby buildings. At USC, locations include Doheny Library and the Town and Gown dining room.

Another common location is the Craftsman home of the Eppes family. The house shown in the first season is real; it is owned by David Raposa and Edward Trosper, though a replica set was used from the second season onwards.

US television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Numb3rs on CBS.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

Season Timeslot Season Premiere Season Finale Episodes TV Season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1st Friday 10:00PM January 23, 2005 May 13, 2005 13 2004-2005 #36 10.77
2nd Friday 10:00PM September 23, 2005 May 19, 2006 24 2005-2006 #32 11.62
3rd Friday 10:00PM September 22, 2006 May 18, 2007 24 2006-2007 #38 10.5
4th Friday 10:00PM September 28, 2007 May 16, 2008 18 2007-2008 #55 9.14
5th Friday 10:00PM October 3, 2008 May, 2009 2008-2009

External Links

Footnotes

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