Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lost the Race Again

So PZ Myers stole my latest post idea.
I try to watch all the shows that have brilliant people as main characters: House, CSI: the original, Law & Order: Criminal Intent (D'Onofrio version, although I like the other one too), Numb3rs. I think brilliant people are under-represented, especially as sympathetic characters, and I want to do my best to support the ones that exist. I know, it only matters if I'm a Neilson household, but I'm still trying.
I understand (as articulated better by most of the contrary commentors to that Pharyngula post linked above) that TV is TV: among other things, it is fiction, it is constrained by time, and it is constrained by the producers'/writers'/network suits' assumptions about the intelligence of the audience. When you don't know anything about the subject -- for me, that would be House -- it's easy enough to accept the more obvious lapses in logic. For example: of course the fact that the child last night was an in vitro baby would be important, but I didn't know how obvious that made the answer to doctor & biology types. That's what the network people are counting on: that most of the audience won't know that. (I think they're also counting on the audience not even realizing that the in vitro fact is the important one, but that may be my inherent cynicism about network suits.)
But. But but but...
My undergraduate degree is in math*, so watching Numb3rs is a challenge for me. A big challenge. Even though I only have a BA in the subject, a BA that's over 10 years old, and no experience whatsoever in the academic field, I know that a mathematics professor won't have an intimate understanding of chaos theory *and* abstract algebra *and* topology *and* combinatorics *and*... I even get annoyed by the shows I don't have any background in: CSI's ability to dedicate four or five techs to one case, the beautiful facilities they work in, and the way they always get results; or the fact Dr. House suggests 4 or 5 tests per episode, all except the last of which put the patient at great risk, but he's touted as a perfect diagnostician.
On the other hand, I adore Goren (L&O:CI) his immeasurable knowledge about every single subject, and his unparalleled ability to psychologically manipulate his suspects into confessions. Maybe these shows wouldn't be so annoying if they were as over-the-top and obviously impossible as L&O:CI is.

*My current work has nothing to do with my undergraduate degree, so that doesn't really give you any help in finding me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i sort of like that house has to stumble around to figure it out and is still considered brilliant. while I'd hate to call the show realistic because it most certainly isn't, there is an element of realism in that he doesn't just know everything instantly like...say...matt damon's character in good will hunting.

2:21 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:21 PM EDT  
Blogger Maisha said...


i cant stand house cause of the visual me the creeps.but i wonder why all the lead characters like Haratio(sp) and I have forgotten the rest-of all 3 CSIs are the way they are.aloof,mysterious.and they all talk very

4:36 AM EDT  
Blogger ceresina said...

anastasia: I never thought of it in comparison to GWH, and making mistakes! Cool! I just remember House as being described as perfect, which is most probably incorrect, and was puzzled by *that* incongruity.

maisha: the visual effects are odd, aren't they? they remind me of the CSI shows, actually. And Horatio is *very* strange indeed!

2:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Maisha said...

i think i just prefer Alan Shore and Danny Crane in both The Practice and Boston Legal.They are weird in a hilarious,outrageous way...

5:19 AM EDT  

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