You all know how I feel about the IQ test, and whether it actually measures intelligence. Well, anyone who’s been listening to me rant over the last few years does. It doesn’t measure intelligence as much as ease of accessing archived educational tidbits. That is why I rank incredibly well despite my failings, and why so many people rank poorly in IQ tests who are factually incredibly capable, competent problem solvers. My basic point in the above is that you know I find the IQ test highly fallible. It does not measure a man’s worth. Just his accessible education and some small measure of his reasoning skills. My general working theory is that the concept of IQ simply exists to remove the requirement to actually observe your fellows for their worth. It allows you to shuck it off to authority, and removes the requirement to truly judge another on his capabilities.
The above is only a small part of why the new TV show </scorpion> bothers me so much. I wanted to like it. I really did. (“Smart people saving the day! Sounds like my kind of gig!”)
And then I saw a promo for the first time. Argh. The broken code! Ugh. Aaak! I could barely stand it. I wanted to tack on the opening HTML tag every time I saw that ad.
The show has a potentially wonderful premise. Supposedly, it’s based on the life of a real person with an IQ off the charts. While this person’s IQ is fantastic, my grandfather’s IQ was higher, mine’s within spitting distance of it, and nearly every member of my immediate family is right up there. I’m sure I could hold my own in an informed conversation with him on many topics. (Especially if they’re writing this character to actually mimic the real guy.)
The opening sequence is nauseatingly self-serving. The voiceovers tout the lead character’s brilliance. Our main character is heard talking about how fantastically smart he is. He declares himself to be smarter than Einstein in the intro. (It’s not winning the show any points to brag at the expense of others, especially one as respected as Einstein. )
Perhaps I’m spoiled by having humble, hardworking intelligent people around me, but I’m already sick of hearing him self-aggrandize, and I’ve only seen two episodes. Intelligence is valued in the end not by how much you have, but how much you share. I’m sure the show’s inspiration knows that.
I can only assume that the show has wandered far afield of the intent. I have seen showbiz projects that were nearly unrecognizable by the time they hit the boards; perhaps that’s the problem here. I certainly can’t imagine that anyone with an IQ over 190 would have intended to allow the meaningless, pointless use of half of an HTML tag.
So, if this Mr. O’Brien is closely associated with the show, why would he not want something useless, pointless and confusing stripped from the title. He wouldn’t. Smart people understand the world around them better than that and a pointless symbol without anything to ground it is more bothersome to them as a result.
My guess? The show’s producers or marketing team or whomever it was just wanted something that looked confusing and mathematical or code-based without actually being mathematical or code-based, and didn’t bother to ask the brilliant man what it should be. But no. I’m left mentally beginning the tag every time I see it written.
If it’s meant to be a self-closing tag the /> would be at the end like this:
It’s the exact same amount of characters… so why not? Or… how about just a start tag?
(And then they could put the closing tag in place at the end of the season, as an inside joke.)
In the end, two episodes was enough to tell me that the show is not written for the brilliant, but about the brilliant. An important distinction.
Big Bang Theory is, despite being the undeniably formulaic and typical sitcom that one would expect, thoroughly enjoyable, primarily because it’s not trying to pretend to be more than it is. It has a sense of humor about the intelligence it mocks. The juxtaposition of awkwardness and intelligence in that show tells me I’m not the only one having trouble being relatable. People who misunderstand it might think it mattered for TBBT to be accurate and be about the science, but it’s very much not. It’s about human relationships, something that like most people in my position, I find more difficult to wrangle than higher math or quantum physics or code.
Scorpion is also purely meta-scientific, but pretends to be more. You hear about but never delve into the real meat of the technical side of what the character of Walter is doing. The writers failed to make the voiceover from the actor playing Walter sound like anything less than braggadocio. Where Big Bang hides the bragging in the dialogue of the admittedly flawed and likeable antagonist Sheldon, Scorpion IS Sheldon, touting it’s superiority and splendor like a strutting peacock.
Sure, the Walter character solves things in a MacGyverine fashion, and turns unlikely circumstances into truly preposterous solutions based on potentially plausible solutions, but he’s doing so through some of the most transparently dumbed-down-while-cocky dialogue I’ve ever come across. Never a double meaning, never an epiphany. No real thought, just formula, and predictable, obvious words from obvious two-dimensional characters.
Sure, it is mildly entertaining. But being trite while touting your intelligence is a waste of time.
In the end, I’ve decided that the character based on the life of Walter O’Brien, however wonderful or intelligent he might be, is being done a disservice by very poor writing. Perhaps they simply don’t realize that while they might be writing about a remarkable man, they aren’t writing it to do well by him. Honestly, the real life of Walter would likely be utterly fascinating to me. I’d be hooked on the show in seconds, if it mirrored reality better, and involved better writing.
I will not be watching another episode. Unless my DVR accidentally records it. In which case my obsessive completion habit will require it to be watched. And then I’ll rant again.