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Old 10-14-2014, 05:18 PM   #1
Bill Reeves
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Scorpion S01E04 OAD 10/13/2014 "Shorthanded"

A place to point out the plot howlers and such from the latest Scorpion. Like how dudes can just bring machine guns into Vegas casinos.

I had to look up one of the guest stars - I recognized Corbin Bernsen since he's been in Psych recently, but I had to look up the blackjack dealer who got fired -- it was Chris Mulkey who was on Bakersfield P.D. many years ago. And, having just looked it up, he was also on Twin Peaks.

I want to like this show more, but it's like they're trying to make the point that geniuses can't ever have normal lives - geniuses are so bad at social stuff that they need a "life translator" like Paige. Walter, who is portrayed as the most "normal" of the geniuses, wouldn't say "fire that dealer" in the presence of the dealer, and he wouldn't be so dumb as to try to represent himself in court.
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Old 10-14-2014, 05:41 PM   #2
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I liked this episode overall. Sure, there are always going to be plot holes, and especially in a show like this. But I think they're doing a pretty good job to not make them too ridiculous like they were in the pilot.

I listened to the real Walter O'Brien on the Adam Carolla podcast recently and he was very interesting and engaging. Sounds like a lot of this show is taken directly from his life and his life experiences. But if the writers had to stop and fix every pedantic thing that we get hung up on, they'd never actually be able to make a TV show, and especially not one that anyone would enjoy watching.
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Old 10-15-2014, 12:19 AM   #3
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This show is continuing down the H5O rabbit hole. It's a fun premise, easy to watch, but just incredibly poorly written. It's like they want us to make fun of it.

Everything from walking out of jail (yeah, I get supergenius can whack the lock, but is there NO other security other than a front door?) to firing a guy with small hands... wait a sec, help me with this. Maybe I missed something, the dealer had small hands, so he deals slowly, so he loses more than the other dealers. But wouldn't he just win less (ie, make less for the house) if he was slower than average. Why would he lose more? I'm thinking I misread something in that scene.

It's just too pat for me. The high-wire zipline into the penthouse, the chase scene with casino security (AKA keystone cops), and on and on.

Another thing that bugs me is how they know everything. I get that they're all geniuses in their fields, and that Walter is a super-genius (although I wish he'd quit bragging how his IQ is higher than Einstein's; wait until you discover some unified theory before you start down that path). But just because you're IQ-smart doesn't mean you KNOW everything. It means you're smart. In Walter's case, he's like a walking wiki about everything. Every. Thing.

It becomes a tiresome gimmick after a while.

One more.
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Old 10-15-2014, 12:27 AM   #4
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wait a sec, help me with this. Maybe I missed something, the dealer had small hands, so he deals slowly, so he loses more than the other dealers. But wouldn't he just win less (ie, make less for the house) if he was slower than average. Why would he lose more? I'm thinking I misread something in that scene.
Each table has an expected take over any given period of time based on amounts bet, house advantage, etc. So when they were talking about "losses," it wasn't that the table was actually paying out money to the gamblers. Instead, it was simply not "earning" the expected amount and so they were calling it a loss.
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Old 10-15-2014, 12:32 AM   #5
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A place to point out the plot howlers and such from the latest Scorpion. Like how dudes can just bring machine guns into Vegas casinos.
At the time we saw this, it seemed ridiculous because there are cameras everywhere and how would anyone think they could get away with that. But by the end of the show once we knew who orchestrated everything, we know that the daughter coordinated the robbery and she communicated where the camera blind spots were, so it's not as ridiculous once you know those facts.

Of course, the idea that Walter directing a single camera to zoom on a certain table would leave a big blind spot in the middle of the casino floor is a problem in itself, but we can't nitpick everything about this show. There's simply too much that's unrealistic.
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Old 10-15-2014, 06:27 AM   #6
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Everything from walking out of jail (yeah, I get supergenius can whack the lock, but is there NO other security other than a front door?) to firing a guy with small hands... wait a sec, help me with this. Maybe I missed something, the dealer had small hands, so he deals slowly, so he loses more than the other dealers. But wouldn't he just win less (ie, make less for the house) if he was slower than average. Why would he lose more? I'm thinking I misread something in that scene.
"Hey, dude, you have to deal faster."

"OK." [episode ends]
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:12 AM   #7
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Yeah it would have been nice if there had been a more scientifically demonstrable solution to the loses.
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Old 10-15-2014, 09:54 AM   #8
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"Hey, dude, you have to deal faster."

"OK." [episode ends]
Or, "Hey, maybe you can deal craps instead?" "Sure, why not?" Exeunt. I don't think any business owner would actually fire someone like that.
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Old 10-15-2014, 09:55 AM   #9
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Each table has an expected take over any given period of time based on amounts bet, house advantage, etc. So when they were talking about "losses," it wasn't that the table was actually paying out money to the gamblers. Instead, it was simply not "earning" the expected amount and so they were calling it a loss.
They gave pretty specific numbers in the episode. Math guy was talking to pretty casino daughter about it. Something like, these tables are losing 1.3% when the house advantage is 0.28%.
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Old 10-15-2014, 03:20 PM   #10
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Each table has an expected take over any given period of time based on amounts bet, house advantage, etc. So when they were talking about "losses," it wasn't that the table was actually paying out money to the gamblers. Instead, it was simply not "earning" the expected amount and so they were calling it a loss.
Just like government spending "cuts" aren't a decrease in spending, but a reduction of the increase.
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Old 10-15-2014, 05:14 PM   #11
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Another thing that bugs me is how they know everything. I get that they're all geniuses in their fields, and that Walter is a super-genius (although I wish he'd quit bragging how his IQ is higher than Einstein's; wait until you discover some unified theory before you start down that path). But just because you're IQ-smart doesn't mean you KNOW everything. It means you're smart. In Walter's case, he's like a walking wiki about everything. Every. Thing.

It becomes a tiresome gimmick after a while.
He certainly didn't know what a jury of his peers legally meant. In that case though, they swung it too far in the other direction, making him seem like a total idiot.
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Old 10-15-2014, 05:50 PM   #12
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It's funny that I enjoy watching this so much with all the giant plot holes and unbelievability. It's just that the characters are interesting and I want to see what happens. It reminds me of Las Vegas in that respect. But with that show, it seemed even more fun so I cared even less about the plot holes.

The main thing that bugged me about this episode was that Walter escapes from jail, with nobody noticing. Then the rest of the team commits many felonies to break him out. And after all is said and done, nobody cares and they're all free to go.
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Old 10-15-2014, 06:27 PM   #13
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Walter, who is portrayed as the most "normal" of the geniuses, wouldn't say "fire that dealer" in the presence of the dealer, and he wouldn't be so dumb as to try to represent himself in court.
Don't be so sure of that. Hans Reiser, creator of the ReiserFS, murdered his wife, defended himself in court, and lost, mostly because his arrogance and assumption that he was smarter than everyone else in the room was so offputting (well, that and the evidence, of course).

There's a rather famous point, and remember, this is real life, this really happened, where the Police questioned him about why the carpet in his car was wet. After he was convicted (and led the Police to where he buried her to reduce his sentence, so no question of his guilt any more), he admitted that he hosed the car out to get rid of the blood, but he didn't expect it to stay wet because he couldn't imagine any engineer stupid enough to not have drain holes for water, and so he never bothered to check to ensure his carpet dried out.

Most of us know that when you spill something in your car, it won't go away, you have to go get a wet-vac, but Reiser, the super-genius, didn't know that, and assumed the world worked the way he would have designed it, and so didn't bother to check.

The law does not work as neatly as science does, and has tripped up more than one genius scientist who doesn't understand that. Watch "You don't know Jack" for an example of of Jack Kevorkian defending himself and trying to get a witness to say that "If A=B, and B=C, then A must equal C", a simple enough equation that anybody should be able to say, but being blocked because it's outside the expertise of the witness and thus inadmissible, and how he can't believe that's how things work in a court of law.

I totally bought the Walter O'Brien screws up in court scene. That was probably the most realistic scene in the episode. (My sister actually keeps a list of "Stupid Brother Stories" where her incredibly smart brother does stupid things that normals would have not done).



Having said all of that... "See? The video surveillance shows no one entered or left your room from the time you left until the time we returned and discovered the money from the robbery". Um... how did the money get into the room then? You don't have to prove that the angle of the camera is wrong to understand that if nobody entered or left the room, the money couldn't have been brought into the room. Even the Police, let alone geniuses, should have seen that instantly.
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Old 10-15-2014, 06:36 PM   #14
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It's funny that I enjoy watching this so much with all the giant plot holes and unbelievability. It's just that the characters are interesting and I want to see what happens. It reminds me of Las Vegas in that respect. But with that show, it seemed even more fun so I cared even less about the plot holes.

The main thing that bugged me about this episode was that Walter escapes from jail, with nobody noticing. Then the rest of the team commits many felonies to break him out. And after all is said and done, nobody cares and they're all free to go.
I agree that this episode reminded me a lot of the Las Vegas TV series of a few years ago.
In fact, this episode probably would have fit right in there with just a minor reworking of the characters.

The problem is that I knew that Las Vegas was a "turn off your brain" show within the first five minutes of the pilot.
I get the feeling Scorpion is trying to say. "No, see this could really happen" but can't with the whole walking out of jail bit and the relatively easy (for a Vegas casino) break in (among other things).

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Having said all of that... "See? The video surveillance shows no one entered or left your room from the time you left until the time we returned and discovered the money from the robbery". Um... how did the money get into the room then? You don't have to prove that the angle of the camera is wrong to understand that if nobody entered or left the room, the money couldn't have been brought into the room. Even the Police, let alone geniuses, should have seen that instantly.
Yeah, I nearly sprained my eyes from the hard roll right there and then my brain just shut down after that.

I had to do an emergency reboot just to be able to watch the Flash.

Oh, and I'll predict that McPhee will sing on the "very special" Christmas episode.
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:27 PM   #15
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You know what I just realized? "Endgame" is a show about a quirky genius and I LOVED that. It was filled with bizarre things and an odd genius with a phobia of going outside, and it was really well done and you cared about the characters and the plots both. I'm certain it had it's problems, but it didn't hit you over the head with them.

Scorpion should be more like that. We'd probably give it a little more slack if it weren't so outrageously - dare I say boldly - stupid.
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:30 PM   #16
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Don't be so sure of that. Hans Reiser, creator of the ReiserFS, murdered his wife, defended himself in court, and lost, mostly because his arrogance and assumption that he was smarter than everyone else in the room was so offputting (well, that and the evidence, of course).
But there's a difference between overestimating how much it matters that you're smarter than anybody else, and being a moron.

Walter was a moron...he simply didn't understand the concept of "a jury of your peers." I'm nowhere near as smart as he's supposed to be, but I knew that much when I was a kid.

Walter reminds me a bit of Bones, although Bones is much more egregious...often, she seems like what stupid people imagine what it's like to be smart.
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Old 10-15-2014, 10:59 PM   #17
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While I agree that the whole "you won't be able to find 12 people with an IQ of 197 so you must release me" was particularly stupid, I took it as shorthand for a far more complicated set of stupid things that a particularly smart, but ignorant of how the legal system works, person would make. There were many instances during Hans Reisers trial that we were going "Hans! You are brilliant. We know that from your work. How could you be this stupid?". The arrogance to believe you have no peers is very much the same arrogance that Hans showed during his trial.

Quote:
Walter reminds me a bit of Bones, although Bones is much more egregious...often, she seems like what stupid people imagine what it's like to be smart.
I love Brennan (though I no longer watch the show) but what she's doing isn't what Walter is doing. Brennan has locked away the emotional and tries to deal with the world as if she were an outside observer, a scientist simply dealing with an experiment. I recognize that because I did it for years, poorly. Probably why I love Brennan.

But I think your final phrase is the most important. It's not that Brennan is what stupid people imagine it's like to be smart, it's that Hollywood writers imagine that's what it's like to be smart. I hesitate to call them stupid, as I imagine they are not, but they are forced to write things outside their experience and so they go for caricatures, rather than subtlety. Overbroad caricatures too often. And because they are focused on their plot construction, and hitting their beats at the right point in the story, they don't spend sufficient (any?) time working through the geek stuff to see if it makes sense.

It reminds me of a behind-the-scenes bit I saw once about Grays Anatomy. The script was filled with <MEDICAL> and the actors would say sentences that were like "But she has <MEDICAL>" to which someone else would reply "But <MEDICAL>" and the whole script was done, but they had a medical person who would come by and fill in all the medical jargon for them later.

Scorpion needs a real geek to fill the <TECH> blocks in, but also to look through the plot and say "by the way, this is dumb". Unfortunately, Hollywood has trained their writers that technical information can be wrong and nobody will care. And so they don't bother. And Chloe O'Brien hacks into the NSA using the "subnet" as if that's some sort of secret network different from normal networks, and computers can be hacked by typing "override security". And 40 years of that has led Hollywood to believe that nobody cares.


(for those not familiar, Hans' car was found with a sleeping bag covered in his wifes blood, books about murder investigations, the passenger seat removed, and an inch of standing water. Reiser insisted he had been washing the car out and that's why there was water. During Jury Selection, Reiser, acting as his own attorney, asked potential jurors if it would be "moral" to kill someone if they were abusing children and that were the only way to stop them. Reiser complained that they wouldn't let him subpoena witnesses, but the Judge pointed out that he didn't even submit the request until long after the time for doing so had passed. He spent 11 days on the stand, and created the "geek defense", which is that he's so smart he doesn't realize how guilty he's making himself look because he's so wrapped up in his particular field. 'Being too intelligent can be a sort of curse,' defense counsel William Du Bois said.)
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:10 AM   #18
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The writers are aiming this show for average viewers (just like pretty much every other show). Not only would it take more time and effort to make the plots more realistic, it would also probably make them less exciting and interesting. And the average viewer doesn't notice or care about the technical inaccuracies.
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Old 10-16-2014, 07:21 AM   #19
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Walter reminds me a bit of Bones, although Bones is much more egregious...often, she seems like what stupid people imagine what it's like to be smart.

Bones is exactly the show that Scorpion reminds me of. My wife and I started watching it and I had to stop because the leaps in logic were just too annoying.

During the zipline scene I said, "How did they get the trolley back to the top? Did they pack multiple trolleys?" My wife responded, "Don't ruin this for me."
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Old 10-16-2014, 07:36 AM   #20
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I could buy that they packed one trolley per person.
I was wondering what their escape plan was though.
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Old 10-16-2014, 10:05 AM   #21
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I was wondering what their escape plan was though.
Run thru the building while the Keystone Kops chased them.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:07 PM   #22
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The writers are aiming this show for average viewers (just like pretty much every other show). Not only would it take more time and effort to make the plots more realistic, it would also probably make them less exciting and interesting. And the average viewer doesn't notice or care about the technical inaccuracies.
Technical inaccuracies or one thing but one would hope that the average person would have a problem with Walter just walking out of jail like that.

BTW, showing that Walter was unaware of what a "jury of his peers" really means would not prompt me to hire the real Walter O'Brien.
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:13 PM   #23
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Technical inaccuracies or one thing but one would hope that the average person would have a problem with Walter just walking out of jail like that.
you mean the jail had more than one locked door?
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Old 10-16-2014, 05:57 PM   #24
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BTW, showing that Walter was unaware of what a "jury of his peers" really means would not prompt me to hire the real Walter O'Brien.
Having listened to an interview with the real Walter O'Brien, I think he wouldn't be very happy to have been portrayed that way. I don't think he has a lot of input into the plots of the TV show.

And while that situation made the character look really stupid, it also gave him a moment where they could show that he is human and isn't always a know-it-all. But they had to do it in a part of the show where it's not going to be a life and death situation, so I think it was actually done well for the purpose of advancing both the plot and the character.
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Old 10-17-2014, 04:57 PM   #25
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to firing a guy with small hands...
No wonder you never see female or Asian dealers in casinos.
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Old 10-17-2014, 05:13 PM   #26
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No wonder you never see female or Asian dealers in casinos.
Ha! Great point.
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Old 10-20-2014, 03:47 PM   #27
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Ok, this is either going to blast away another TV trope, or confirm that the writers are lazy about researching technical details, even non-geeky ones.

Bail was set at $500,000. So they immediately set out to win the whole amount at the casino. Wouldn't they only have to raise 10% of that amount? I'm happy to say that I've never had to bail myself or anyone out of jail before, but I'm pretty sure that's how it works on every TV show, ever: Bail is set at X. You only have to pay 10% of X to get out on bail. True, or not?
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Old 10-20-2014, 03:57 PM   #28
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Bail was set at $500,000. So they immediately set out to win the whole amount at the casino. Wouldn't they only have to raise 10% of that amount?
I believe if you have house equity or something, just 10% gets you out of jail, but poor people tend to stay in jail even with relatively low bail, until they agree to a plea.

I didn't get the sense that Walter and his motley crew had a lot of collateral.
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Old 10-20-2014, 04:48 PM   #29
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Ok, this is either going to blast away another TV trope, or confirm that the writers are lazy about researching technical details, even non-geeky ones.

Bail was set at $500,000. So they immediately set out to win the whole amount at the casino. Wouldn't they only have to raise 10% of that amount? I'm happy to say that I've never had to bail myself or anyone out of jail before, but I'm pretty sure that's how it works on every TV show, ever: Bail is set at X. You only have to pay 10% of X to get out on bail. True, or not?
The court requires payment of the full amount. But there are bail bond companies that will put up the full amount for you if you pay them some percentage of the full amount. The percentage will vary based on the crime, the person accused, the flight risk, that person's assets, etc.

The difference is that if you pay the full bail amount and then show up for the hearing, you get the bail returned to you. If you use a bail bondsman, they keep the amount you paid them as their fee.
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Old 10-20-2014, 10:54 PM   #30
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About the bail, I have knowledge of the bail systems in the Las Vegas Valley and They got a few things wrong.

Firstly, bailing can be done 24/7. This is true for all 3 municipal and county jails. Federal and state I'm not positive on, but the investigation would have been performed by the LVPD which handles both City of Las Vegas and Clark County law enforcement.

Secondly, bail can be set as cash only by the judge for various reasons. The judge made no mention of that when she set the bail, so the bail would have been bondable.

Thirdly, a bail bond cost is 10% of the bail. And you can setup payment arrangements with the bond agent. If the person buying the bond has good roots in town and presents well, they could have paid as little as 1% of the bond fee. They would still be on the hook for the remaining 9%.

However, all the above doesn't make for a good story. Thus the writers made up their own rules.
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