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Numb3rs (pronounced /ˈnʌmbərz/ and labeled NUMB3RS) is an American television drama, which premiered on January 23, 2005, on CBS. The series was created by Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton, and 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. Numb3rs is produced by brothers Ridley and Tony Scott and its production company is Scott Free Productions and CBS Television Studios.
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. It has been renewed for a sixth season, which premiered September 25, 2009.
On November 4, 2009, it was announced that the Numb3rs episode order had been cut from 22 to 16 episodes.

Cast and characters
Main article: List of Numb3rs characters
The show revolves around three groups of characters: the FBI, mathematicians at CalSci and the Eppes family.
  • Professor Charlie Eppes is a mathematics genius who consults for the FBI and NSA. He teaches at CalSci-the fictitious California Institute of Science. He is portrayed by David Krumholtz.
  • Don Eppes, Charlie's older brother, is the lead FBI agent. He is portrayed by Rob Morrow.
  • Professor Larry Fleinhardt is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist at CalSci. Charlie's former mentor and now best friend, he also consults frequently for the FBI. He is portrayed by Peter MacNicol.
  • Alan Eppes is a former L.A. City planner, a widower and the father of both Charlie and Don Eppes. He is portrayed by Judd Hirsch.
  • Amita Ramanujan is a mathematician at CalSci and FBI consultant. She has been dating Charlie Eppes and the couple became officially engaged at the beginning of season six. Charlie was her thesis adviser. She is portrayed by Navi Rawat.
  • Megan Reeves was an FBI behavioral specialist. She was involved romantically with Larry Fleinhardt and left the FBI to counsel troubled young women. She was portrayed by Diane Farr.
  • David Sinclair is an FBI field agent and was recently made Don's second in charge and promoted to supervisor. He is portrayed by Alimi Ballard.
  • Colby Granger is an FBI field agent. Once thought to have betrayed his colleagues, he is now back in their good graces and confidence. He is portrayed by Dylan Bruno.
  • Liz Warner is an FBI agent, formerly involved with Agent Eppes. She is portrayed by Aya Sumika.
  • Nikki Betancourt is an FBI agent with four years' experience in the LAPD and a law degree. She is portrayed by Sophina Brown.
Temporary characters on the show are often named after famous mathematicians. For example, in episode eight of season two one of the criminals is named Rolle, and Charlie's father mentions a meeting with a man named Robert Peterson.

Episodes
Main article: List of Numb3rs episode

Season 1

Main article: List of Numb3rs episodes (season 1)
The first season run of the show aired between January 23, 2005, and May 13, 2005, at 10:00 p.m. 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 One 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

Main article: List of Numb3rs episodes (season 2)
The second season run of the show aired between September 23, 2005, and May 19, 2006, again at 10:00 p.m. 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

Main article: List of Numb3rs episodes (season 3)
Numb3rs was renewed for a third season, which began airing in North America (specifically USA and Canada) at 10:00 p.m. 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

Main article: List of Numb3rs episodes (season 4)
The season premiere aired on September 28, 2007, in the same Friday night time slot as in previous seasons, 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Because of 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 six 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 FBI 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 (though Edgerton appears in Season 5).

Season 5

Main article: List of Numb3rs episodes (season 5)
The fifth season premiered on October 3, 2008, and the season finale aired on May 15, 2009. The season premiere was moved back one week as a result of the presidential debates.
Season five opens three weeks after "When Worlds Collide" (season four's season finale), with the government dropping the charges against Charlie. Charlie gets his security clearance back after he and Don fight FBI Security Officer Carl McGowan. Don begins to explore Judaism. The team adds new agent Nikki Betancourt, arriving shortly after Megan Reeves' departure. Liz receives a promotion but turns it down. Buck Winters (from "Spree" and "Two Daughters") breaks out of prison and comes after Don. Alan suddenly finds himself coaching CalSci's basketball team. David becomes Don's primary relief supervisor. DARPA tries to recruit Charlie, but he turns down their offer. Toward the end of the season, Don is stabbed, and Charlie blames himself for it. The aftermath of Don's stabbing causes Charlie to focus more on his FBI consultation work. Amita is kidnapped, and the team races to find her. After she is rescued, Charlie proposes to Amita. Her response is unknown.
Notes about Season Five: "Disturbed" marked the 100th episode of Numb3rs.

Season 6

Main article: List of Numb3rs episodes (season 6)
The sixth season premiered Friday September 25, 2009, at 10:00 p.m. EDT. The season starts with the engagement of Charlie and Amita. Soon after, Larry turns down an opportunity to meet with mathematicians at CERN in Geneva and drops his course load for the following semester, leading Charlie to realize Larry is once again leaving, and leaving all of his work to Charlie. Don learns that his former mentor is crooked, causing Don angst when he had to shoot his mentor. Charlie and Don learn that Alan has lost a substantial amount of money in his 401(k). After some delay, Larry leaves LA, only to find a vacant piece of land for sale within driving distance of the city. Alan decides to return to work and finds a job as a software technical consultant. David asks Don for advice about career paths within the FBI. Charlie and Amita begin planning their wedding and decide to join the Big Brother/Big Sister program to practice parenting skills.

DVD releases

CBS DVD (Distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment) has released the first four seasons of Numbe3rs on DVD in Region 1, 2 & 4. Season five was released encoded for Region 1 on October 20, 2009.
Season #Release DatesEp #LengthDiscsRegion 1 Extras
US, Canada (R1)UK
(R2)
Australia (R4)
Season 1May 30, 2006October 2, 2006October 5, 200613544 min.4Cast 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 2October 10, 2006July 9, 2007June 7, 2007241037 min.6Cast 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 3September 25, 2007February 9, 2009July 10, 2008241029 min.6Cast 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 4September 30, 2008July 13, 2009July 2, 200918767 min.5"Crunching NUMB3RS: Trust Metric," featurettes for two episodes, "The Tony Touch", pre-production, and post production.
Season 5October 20, 2009TBATBA23983 mins.6Cast and crew commentaries for three episodes, deleted scenes for "Thirty-Six Hours", "Crunching NUMB3RS: Season Five" featurette, "Celebrating 100" featurette, Blooper reel.

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."
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.
However "getting the math right and getting it to fit with the plot are not priorities for the NUMB3RS team" according to creator Cheryl Heuton. 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 mathematics, 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 Colin Bruce's re-imagings of the Sherlock Holmes character, and to the Mathnet segment on the children's television show Square One.
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, 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.

American 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.
SeasonTimeslotSeason PremiereSeason FinaleEpisodesTV SeasonRankingViewers
(in millions)
1stFriday 10:00 pmJanuary 23, 2005May 13, 2005132004-2005#3610.77
2ndFriday 10:00 pmSeptember 23, 2005May 19, 2006242005-2006#3211.62
3rdFriday 10:00 pmSeptember 22, 2006May 18, 2007242006-2007#3810.5
4thFriday 10:00 pmSeptember 28, 2007May 16, 2008182007-2008#559.14
5thFriday 10:00 pmOctober 3, 2008May 15, 2009232008-2009#299.75
6thFriday 10:00 pmSeptember 25, 2009Spring 2010162009-2010


 

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