Crime-solving: It all adds up on 'NUMB3RS'

Critics' Picks : New Dvds


NUMB3RS: SEASON ONE / / Paramount Home Video / / $54.99

When it premiered on CBS in 2005, NUMB3RS seemed like it might just be another crime drama, albeit one featuring the FBI getting help from a mathematician to solve cases. But as the show's first season, out Tuesday on DVD, continued, it became clear that it was a little different.

This is in large part because of its stars -- Rob Morrow as FBI agent Don Eppes, David Krumholtz as his brother, Charlie, a gifted professor of mathematics, and Judd Hirsch as their dad -- and the dynamic among them. Yes, Charlie develops equations and uses offbeat theories to help the FBI solve cases, which is certainly a different approach from, say, the science bent of CSI or the legal bent of the Law & Order franchise. But almost more interesting is seeing the evidence of the complicated relationship between the two brothers emerge during the season's 13 episodes. (Charlie was a prodigy, attending high school at the same time as his older brother, but was socially inept; Don was great with girls but felt stupid compared with his genius little brother. The early death of their mother only made it more complex.)

* Special features: In the rather detailed behind-the-scenes featurette "Crunching NUMB3RS," the creators, stars, math consultant, producers and more explain how the series came to be, how casting went, the process of getting the show picked up by a network. "Point of Origin" goes inside the original pilot to the series and shows how much was changed -- including most of the cast and making Charlie into more of a cool, wacky professor and less of a nerd. The audition tapes almost seem like a "why bother" since they only include those of Krumholtz and Navi Rawat (grad student Amita) because of the casting changes. "Do the Math -- The Caltech Analysis" shows a speech given by the show's math consultant Gary Lorden at Caltech showcasing some of his favorite scenes and the stories behind them. "Charlievision" is a too-much-information featurette in which the visual effects supervisor explains how the graphics for each (and every) episode were made. Lastly, there's a too-short blooper reel, almost always a highlight, especially for shows in which people are serious most of the time.



The name, you might not recognize, but Stephen Tobolowsky has been in more than 150 movies and TV shows, so his face is probably another story. "Another story" is pretty much the point of this movie, which follows Tobolowsky as he prepares to have some folks over for a party, telling anecdote after anecdote. Some are about moviemaking, some aren't. It's definitely entertaining -- after all, the man has worked on many a set (including Mississippi Burning, Groundhog Day and My Father the Hero). But the special features include 90 more minutes of stories, and if you watch that back to back with the film, you'll start to think less about what he's saying and more about the guests -- Did they ever get to talk? Did they eat all that food he prepared at the start of the movie? Why are Mena Suvari and Amy Adams there? The film, which is cinematographer Robert Brinkmann's directing debut, is a hoot, but give it a couple of days before visiting the "extras." Available at, the DVD is out Tuesday, which is also Tobolowsky's 55th birthday.




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