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 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.
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.
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.
|Season #||Release Dates||Ep #||Length||Discs||Region 1 Extras|
|US, Canada (R1)||UK |
|Season 1|| May 30, |
|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, |
| June 6, |
|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|
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".
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.
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|
|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|