The Third Season
Creators and executive producers Nicolas Falacci and Cheryl Heuton join an experienced crew, Alex Gansa (The X-Files), Barry Schindel (Law & Order, Robbery Homicide Division), Brooke Kennedy (Third Watch, Crime Story), Ridley Scott (Matchstick Men, Black Hawk Down), Tony Scott (In Her Shoes, Domino), and David W. Zucker (Judging Amy), to produce a television series like no other. Numb3rs is a crime drama about the application of mathematics in criminal investigations. More specifically, the show is about an FBI agent and his mathematical-genius brother who work in tandem to solve some of Los Angles' toughest federal criminal cases. For more details about the series, refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one and season two.
Season three has several changes and developments in its cast. The first series of changes focus on the characters. Don comes to terms with the hardships of his job, both the responsibility and the killing. He reluctantly sees a psychiatrist to work out his issues. Larry and Megan's relationship continues to bloom; they get more serious and become an item. Amita takes a job as a professor at CalSci and has difficulty adjusting to the transition of former student turned professor. Her peers fail to give her the respect she deserves. Amita and Charlie also decide to give their relationship a real try.
The season also has two cast members take breaks. Larry goes on hiatus midseason; his last appearance is "Killer Chat". Larry is selected for a special mission to work on a space station. It is a pretty big development for the entire cast. Peter MacNicol, who plays Larry, temporarily left the show to play the role as the President's Chief of Staff Tom Lennox in 24's sixth season. He returns to Numb3rs in the season three episode "The Art Of Reckoning". Megan also takes a brief break. Her leave of absence occurs in "Democracy". Megan is selected by the FBI director to work on a special task force. She returns in the season finale "The Janus List" as a darker person. Diane Farr left the show because she was pregnant.
There is also a couple supporting characters added to the season's line-up. Liz Warner (Aya Umika) is an FBI agent and romantic interest for Don. While at the FBI academy, Don was her tactical instructor. They have had a romantic chemistry since their first meeting. They reconnect on a tough case in "Longshot" and romance follows as the season progresses. Dr. Mildred Finch (Kathy Najimy) is another new character. She is the newly appointed head of the CalSci Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy Division. In other words, she is Charlie's new boss. She is a pain the ass to the department, as she tries to strong arm Charlie into doing more with the department and less with the FBI. She also crosses paths (the wrong way) with Amita. Eventually, she finds a comfort zone with the cast, which happens about the same time she starts dating Alan.
In addition to changes in the main and supporting cast, there are several strong guest stars that include a line-up from HBO's hit crime-drama The Wire, -The Wire cast guest stars as various characters: Deirde Lovejoy in "Waste Not", Lance Reddick in "End Of Watch", Larry Gilliard Jr. in "Waste Not", Wood Harris in "The Art Of Reckoning", and Wendell Pierce in "Money For Nothing", "One Hour", and "Take Out" as Don's psychiatrist. Other notable guest stars include Lou Diamond Phillips, who reprises his role as FBI Agent Edgerton in "Spree", "Two Daughters", and "Pandora's Box", Bill Nye, who guest stars in "Hardball", and Joshua Malina (The West Wing, Sports Night), who guest stars in "Waste Not", "Democracy", and "Nine Wives" as a U.S. Attorney.
As for the season three content, the episodes continue to deliver a CSI-stylistic forensics touch, but with mathematics. The show's different style works with pretty strong writing to deliver compelling storylines. All of which is coupled with a cast of likeable characters. However, the mathematics behind season three felt a little weaker than season two. More specifically, at times it felt like the writing was really pushing to apply one concept or another. Furthermore, the application just felt a little unrealistic. In my (non-expert) opinion, there are just too many factors to calculate and unknowns to be able to calculate where the next criminal act will be conducted. Still, it makes for good TV.
One of the season's strongest episodes is the two-part season premiere "Spree" and "Two Daughters". A high school teacher, who has a shady past, turns into a killer. Her partner-in-crime is a seventeen year old football player. The two go on a crime spree, driving across the country, killing, and stealing. They become a top priority on the FBI's case work. The episode offers a lot, but the main attraction is how it affects the cast. Don drops his ethics in order to see the case closed, especially when Megan is taken hostage.
"Finders Keepers" is another stellar episode. The body of an underwater salvage diver is found and it leads to an intricate case of terrorism. Another government agency shows up and puts a cramp in everyone's style. "Nine Wives" revisits a somewhat common cult theme to crime-dramas. A fourteen-year old girl is found near-death and the investigation leads to a murderous leader of a religious cult with a bad history of inbreeding and polygamy.
Other good episodes include "The Mole", a Chinese interpreter is killed and the FBI team looks towards a former Granger's Army buddy for help, "Brutus", Don's team uncovers a government conspiracy when investigating the death of a California Senator, "Take Out", two police officers are murdered and a complex investigation into Mexican death squads follow, "End Of Watch", the body of a missing LAPD officer is unearthed and Don discovers the seventeen year old cold case is now hot, and "Under Pressure", terrorists prepare a strike on Los Angeles; everyone races against the clock to stop it.
Overall, Numb3rs' third season has twenty-four intriguing and entertaining episodes. The CSI-stylistic approach with mathematics continues work, albeit it feels a little unrealistic at times. The season also features several changes in its cast, but the fun dynamic continues to stay afloat with several strong guest stars. In the end, for fans of solid crime-dramas, Numb3rs' third season has everything you are a looking for, action, drama, intrigue, mystery, and a dash of comedy and feel-good.
1. Spree: Special Agent Don Eppes and his team of investigators attempt to nab a young couple whose seven-state robbery spree has turned to murder.
2. Two Daughters: A couple's murderous rampage turns personal when agent Megan Reeves (Diane Farr) is kidnapped by one of the killers.
3. Provenance: A valuable painting, stolen by the Nazis during World War II, is stolen for a second time - and its theft leads to murder.
4. The Mole: The team is drawn into a fascinating case when a Chinese interpreter is fond dead.
5. Traffic: In mapping out a series of seemingly random attacks on L.A.'s highways, the FBI team discovers that the incidents may be linked.
6. Longshot: Don and his team prove a mysterious death at a horseracing track, but Charlie uncovers some evidence that takes the investigation in a new direction.
7. Blackout: Los Angeles is plague by a series of power failures. Are the blackouts the results of an accident - or something far more sinister?
8. Hardball: A minor league baseball player winds up dead, and leads in the case point toward steroid use and a major doping ring involving the team.
9. Waste Not: When a sinkhole suddenly opens on a schoolyard, injuring several children, Don, Charlie, and the team unearth a toxic case involving illegal waste disposal.
10. Brutus: Two victims - a California State Senator and a psychiatrist - have little in common with one another, except that Don is convinced the cases are relate and linked to a complex government secret.
11. Killer Chat: While Larry prepares for a mission with NASA, Don and Charlie track a killer who has murdered several sex predators who were looking victims via Internet chat rooms.
12. Nine Wives: A polygamist lands on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list when a woman involved with the suspect goes missing.
13. Finders Keepers: An expensive yacht sinks off the California coast, becoming an attractive target for divers - and a deadly attraction for one adventurous underwater thrill-seeker.
14. Take Out: A series of robberies at various upscale L.A. restaurants brings Don and his team of investigators to the table when the incidents escalate into a case of murder.
15. End Of Watch: A police badge uncovered at a construction site opens a cold case involving the badge's owner - a policeman who's been missing for 17 years. Meanwhile, Alan is targeted in a lawsuit.
16. Contenders: David is stunned to learn that one of his childhood friends is accused of murdering the competition while preparing for an extreme fighting bout.
17. One Hour: In Don's absence, Granger (Dylan Bruno) leads the team in a race against time after a music mogul's son is kidnapped and threatened with death if the $3 million ransom isn't paid.
18. Democracy: Don and Charlie discover that several local deaths may be tried to voter fraud - and the case becomes personal when an old colleague becomes the next victim.
19. Pandora's Box: When a corporate jet goes down in a forested area owned by the government, Charlie must divide his time between that puzzling case and solving a burglary at his home.
20. Burn Rate: A series of explosions are similar to the work of a long-imprisoned bomber. Is the inmate orchestrating a new series of incidents from behind bars...or are they the work of a new perpetrator?
21. The Art Of Reckoning: Don becomes apprehensive when a mob hit man on death row suddenly wants to confess to his crimes and help the FBI sort out his wrongdoings.
22. Under Pressure: The threat of a terrorist attack on Los Angeles - involving the city's water supply - puts everyone on edge and causes friction among Don and his team members.
23. Money For Nothing: Medical supplies worth millions, earmarked for an international relief effort, are stolen - and Don's team discovers that the FBI aren't the only ones interested in recovering the supplies.
24. The Janus List: Don and Charlie must confront a barricaded bomber who has asked for them by name - in a case that will have a profound effect on both the brothers and the close-knit FBI team.
The video in this release is given in an enhanced anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is quite good. It suffers from a slight grain, but detail remains to be sharp and clear. However, there are some occasional moments when the picture suffers compression artifacts. This is a rare occurrence, but it does happen.
The audio track in this release is in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround. In general, the sound quality is very good and it provides an audible and clean track. The dialogue is usually a little flat while music and sound effects come off rich and vibrant. Additionally the 5.1 track is dynamic and makes good use of the surround sound capability.
There are no subtitles, but the release supports closed captioning.
Numb3rs: The Third Season has five audio commentaries, three featurettes, and a blooper reel. Here is the breakdown of the extras:
- Audio Commentaries: are included for episodes "Two Daughters" with David W. Zucker, Ken Sanzel, and Lou Diamond Phillips, "Hardball" with Cheryl Heuton, Nicholas Falacci, David Krumholtz, and Jay Baruchel, "Killer Chat" with Don McGill, Andrew Black, and David Krumholtz, "Nine Wives" with Julie Herbert, Navi Rawat, and Tom Bellissimo, and "One Hour" with Ken Sanzel, Dylan Bruno, and Rob Morrow.
- Crunching Numb3rs: Season 3 (19:31): is a featurette with select of cast and crew. The individuals include David Zucker, Nick Falacci, Cheryl Heuton, Kathy Majimy, Judd Hirsch, David Krumholtz, Barry Schindel, Navi Rawat, Diane Farr, Alimi Ballard, Aya Sumika, Dylan Bruno, Rob Morrow, and Ron Garcia. The discussion follows key season three developments, including episode storylines, character plotlines, relationships, character hiatuses, etc.
- Epps Central (11:45): is a featurette about the role of the Epps house and how it affects the series. They also discuss specific details like furniture, props, its history, etc. It stars Nick Falacci, Cheryl Heuton, Christine Larson-Nitzsche, David Raposa, David W. Zucker, Barry Schindel, Ron Garcia, Alex Fuller, Bill Eigenbrodt, Katherine LeBlond, and Martin Price.
- Blooper Reel (6:26): is a collection of outtakes and bloopers from season three.
- Set House Tour (9:46): is another featurette about the Epps family household. It features David Krumholtz, Judd Hirsch, and Rob Morrow. They give a walkthrough of the house and provide near-comical interactions.
Numb3rs is a television crime-drama that takes a different approach than its sister series. The show focuses on mathematics and its application to solving tough federal crimes. For the most part, the approach to crime solving provides a unique and intriguing appeal. The show is supplemented with a strong cast. Season three has several changes and developments, but still has a fun cast and entertaining episode. Fans and newcomers alike will appreciate the twenty-four episodes that make up season three. It comes highly recommended.
Also, if you are interested in learning about the mathematics used in each episode, refer to the Numb3rs blog, which is maintained by Professor Mark Bridger, Northeastern University, Department of Mathematics. The blog provides detailed explanations for the mathematical concepts and theories behind Numb3rs.