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Thoughts on the tech on the TV show Scorpion?

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I don't really watch TV, so I'd never heard of Scorpion aside from this thread. But I just looked into it on IMDB. The user-reviews are pretty telling. Sorry for the Spoiler boxes; I can't figure out how to link to specific reviews on IMDB.

Here's one that is especially biting:

149 out of 169 people found the following review useful:

This show operates in it's own reality. That's not a good thing.
Author: veruszetec
23 September 2014
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just watched the pilot of /Scorpion.

If you're thinking of doing the same, don't. I beg you, don't.

I'll just start with the plot:

*Four or five "Geniuses" with personality disorders (you can't be smart and well-adjusted, duh!) are recruited by the government to solve an impossible problem: LAX air traffic control software has crashed.

I call this an impossible problem not because it's tough to solve, but because it's impossible for this to be a problem. Air Traffic Control software *does* crash, and there are procedures, including manually-operated light signals, in place at every major airport around the world to handle situations exactly like these.

Oh, well, why don't they just patch the software? Because the company that made the software went out of business twenty years ago. (Yet somehow they just released an auto-update? And they didn't provide the source code to such critical infrastructure software in a software escrow deal, as is standard industry practice for infrastructure applications?) So, they have to get a copy of the old software from a backup.

Oh no! It's about to backup again! Our intrepid team has only five minutes to get into the backup datacenter to pull the hard drive!...Because nobody has ever heard of differential backups. They literally only have one backup of this critical software, and they write over the same tape every day. Again, any IT professional should be pulling out their hair at this -- this is a textbook example of what DOESN'T EVER HAPPEN because only someone as stupid as a /scorpion writer hasn't considered the possibility of a backup failure.

So, half the team heads to the datacenter to retrieve the backup hard drive before LAX -- which is completely dark, and doesn't have communication with any systems -- somehow uploads it's software backup and overwrites the 'good' version of the software. Yes, they're blacked out from communications, but still have a link to their off-site- backup center. And they can't pull software from it, they can only send. And they can't just unplug the line to the datacenter, they have to go and rip out the hard drive.


Still with me? It actually gets worse.

So, a car audio speaker that's in the car being used to transport the hard drive -- physically -- back to LAX managed to wipe the hard drive, because magnets. Possible? Yes. Plausible? Not unless you decide to store the hard drive on top of your subwoofers, instead of, oh, I don't know, maybe your LAP?

So, our team is screwed. But wait! There's another chance! If they can get one of these 777's to fly low enough, they can wirelessly ( I thought that was broken?) transmit the software on the plane to ground control. This plane flew from a different time zone! It still has the old software!


Yes. We're supposed to believe that planes carry the same software that LAX uses for Air Traffic Control, and that it's small enough to be transmitted in a fly-by. Oh, wait, that doesn't work, because of the "Speed differential" of about ~200mph. Those are some slow freaking radio waves, that's all I'm saying.

The obvious solution? Hotwire a random Ferrari 458 sitting on the tarmac. Blow the roof in dramatic fashion. Get the Ferrari up to 200+ mph on a 4000-foot runway. (For reference, the 458's reported top speed is 201mph. It takes a lot more than 4000 feet, though.)

But that's not all! The 777's pilot must descend to 8 feet off the runway, and rather than land, download the software, and sort everything out, they decide that the best course of action is to send the co-pilot down into the wheel well, open the well at 200+ mph, and THROW A FREAKING ETHERNET CABLE INTO THE FERRARI.


I couldn't finish it. I had to turn it off. (This was the climax, so I only missed the ending. Frankly, I feel I was generous.)

This is a show for dumb people. It is a show for dumb people to feel good about themselves because all the "smart people" in the show have weird personality disorders, and say things that dumb people think smart people actually say. It's a show for people so completely devoid of rational thought that they can look at this show and not see the swiss-cheese style plot holes.

I wanted to like this show. In 100 words, the premise sounds good. In production, it's so bad that it's actually offensive. It's like the writers are deliberately trying to make the show this bad. The acting was as good as can be expected. The action was very action-y. But there was no rational or logical explanation for the bullshit in the script that the writers are trying to pass off as a television show. A fourteen-year-old could write a better show than this.

Here's another:

Spoiler20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

So much wrong... Where to start?
Author: Matthew Christian from Albuquerque, NM, USA
27 September 2014
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

* The characters talk about how socially inept the "geniuses" are yet they're well dressed in hip clothes (even the nerdiest is retro chíc) and cool hats and speak with lots of snarky urban slang and they're more confident than used car salesmen. And they're all rather short for some reason. What's up with that?

* The butthole genius leader responds to every damn question or comment with, "Don't worry, it'll work... maybe" or "It's OK, you'll be safe... probably" or "Of course I'll follow his orders... mostly".

* The writers completely misunderstand that KNOWLEDGE is the accumulation of information but INTELLIGENCE is the ability to organize knowledge to synthesize solutions, explanations, understandings, etc. The genius characters are all data banks of insanely diverse information (sure, I know top-of-head how to break into and start a filthy expensive sports car I've probably never seen in real life and which has a complex encrypted RFID transponder anti-theft circuit) and other minutia that they instantly recite. But they do no actual problem solving.

* Lame stereotypes like the genius man-child who get so wrapped up in his math that he forgets to pay the utility bill. They have many other geniuses loitering together but none of them is smart enough to say "set up automatic online bill payment" or "put a Post-It note reminder on the toilet, you'll be sure to see it there".

* The butthole genius leader tried to do a rapid file exchange by connecting to a jet's wi-fi signal as it flew low over the control tower. But if he was such a genius why didn't he calculate the less-than-a second time span the jet and tower wi-fi would be within range of each other, or the Doppler shift, or the time the wi-fi would take to handshake and connect? Or set up a Pringles "cantenna"? Or better still, why not USE THE FAA AIR-TO-GROUND PACKET RADIO DATA LINK THAT ALL U.S. JETS HAVE?

* Pairing the starched, straight-laced Homeland Security agent with the devil-may-care genius who plays by his own rules is the same kind of "oil and water" TV buddy pairing that died with the 1980's and stayed dead for good reason. I can't believe someone brought it back.

* Where did the butthole learn high-performance high-speed driving in a car he's probably never touched before let alone ever driven?

* Why would a passenger jet have such a long ethernet cable on board?

* When the butthole driver tells the waitress to hit the roof release button, why did she slam the roof off with her hands? What part of "button" was hard to understand?

* Why did the flight office have to climb down on the landing gear? Couldn't he have tied the cable to a metal coffee pot or something and just drop it out the hatch?

* At 250 miles per hour, wouldn't the unweighted ethernet cable have been whipping around wildly in the wind?

* If they were in a car that could match the speed of the jet, and could get 20 feet away from the jet, why didn't the butthole try the wi-fi again now that he was in better, faster range?

* How the Hell was a laptop dangling from an ethernet cable able to relay thesoftware package to the tower by wi-fi that was somehow faster than the ethernet cable, then install the flight control software, poll all the tracking sensors and radar, and update the flight status displays, in less time than it took to brake a high-performance car going at 250miles per hour?

What the Hell... the 1960's Batman TV series was more realistic.

Or how about this one, which I assume is ironic.

Spoiler36 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

It's a good joke, I get it.
Author: Ratatosk73 from Netherlands
23 September 2014
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Good show that takes a p1ss at series like House and CSI. A lot of people don't seem to get the joke but I thought it was pretty funny. One or two errors could be bad writing but for this number they really must have been trying hard. The nice thing is they aren't all that obvious because people have already been fed loads of science BS in other shows. Hard disk gets wiped by a car speaker (almost no magnetic field) Girl stands up through roof at 200 mph (just try doing that with your hand) Almost all of the computer interactions take about 1 second. Looking at a photograph lets you find out where the hard drive is. And the characters are just as funny. The kid doesn't talk to anybody but his mom but somehow went to a normal school till recently. Fat guy is a chess grand master that loses a game to a kid in 8 moves. Hat guy totally understands people but makes them want to kill him (masochist I guess), China girl is tech wizz that almost electrocutes herself and forgets about the magic car speakers and the main character isn't smart enough to understand that things can be used for multiple purposes at 16 and goes around telling people he has met for 5 minutes that his IQ is 187 (police code for murder, I really liked that one!). The list goes on and on. Add a 00:07 bomb-moment about every minute and you got a very funny subtle parody disguised as a regular show. Nice one!

Ohh and btw, scrambling some fighter jets to escort the 'blind' planes would solve the problem without all the fuss. I guess my IQ is murder too.

Hope they add a sociopath on steroids to the team for the enforcement jobs.


Why none of that matters even a little bit:  Television "dramas" are not considered to be serious or anything at all like reality. They are pure escapism, nothing more, nothing less.

To wit: Baywatch lasted on the air for 11 seasons - that's 242 episodes! - and was one of the most watched shows in the world. (And that isn't counting the spin-offs Baywatch Nights or Baywatch Hawaii).


Hooray for Deozaan! I started the thread, because even lil' ol' me was suspecting this kind of hilarity / smh head-shaking, I just don't have the right vocabulary to not sound as dumb as the writers!

This is an evolving post (because Mouser put a REALLY long time-out into DC so you don't croak and lose your whole post just because you were typing for more than eight minutes!)

Numbering is based a bit on the point that Deo (Deeeeo!!) used multi-hides.

(Section zero: General stuff)
0a: Fridge logic: "I went to pull my chicken out of my fridge, but someone broke into my house, stole it, and shipped it to someone else!"
So, we have a close tag without an open tag?!

1a: We're talking hardware - so do we also have lots of problems where Happy made cascading mistakes? (I haven't read all the spoilers yet, and I actually have seen all but tonight's episode - they pull the "ohmygawd I don't know how to backup software" *again* in another episode. But given the shenanigans they pull, wouldn't Happy have gone all Stern-Face and ripped out the speaker "just in case"? Example dialog: Cabe: "Hey! That's someone's property! You can't do that!" Stern-Happy: "You didn't read your script and see that we'll end up dropping an ethernet cable from a plane 8 feet above the ground and you're worried about a $300 speaker?!")

1b: "The acting was as good as can be expected.". I actually don't think it is - I think there are some casting problems, though hard to pin down - maybe reminds me a bit of ST TNG early 1st season. That aside, I bet at least one of the actors *does* know some tech, and they look at the script and beg and plead to try to patch it on the fly from dying-on-the-floor-from-a-knife-in-the-heart to at least in-critical-condition-in-the-ER.

2a: Compared to the "GovernTizements" of Homeland Security on other shows, (funny or not), Cabe and gang seem ridiculously incompetent. Straight-Laced Buddy, fine, if you make it work - when the "geniuses" are half way through some undercooked fish of a plan that could kill people, Cabe should be interjecting stuff like "good attempt to read the morse code through the victim's finger tapping, that narrowed it down, but we checked (insert equipment here) so we would go to the right building the first time and not arrive 10 minutes late because we closed our eyes and didn't use any dollar of our billion in tech we spent." (Yes, plot point from another episode!)

2b: "...genius man-child...". If they're going to those lengths, and I'm some 5 episodes in, *they haven't used the Genius-Child-Child once* to do *anything at all*! Shades of Wesley-Terror! Yes, he's so quiet he was mistaken for a Child Left Behind, but he hasn't ever asked an Insightful Question *once* yet in the entire season so far! (Or maybe just one - in five episodes it's easy to miss one, but I've been looking!)

3a: "One or two errors could be bad writing but for this number they really must have been trying hard." Problem is, it's spun wrong to be a super-parody of the-show-that-revolves-around-genius(es). The tone just really feels off. The Genius Detectives in other shows are at least playing 20-questions with multi options. If this is a parody, the types of mistakes would feel different - they'd do stuff like "I protected the drive! Honest!" met with "Yeah, well, none of us counted on it being hit by scary ass terrorist flame grenade radioactive bombs. Godammnit, now I'm going to lose my hair."

3b: (This point intentionally left blank. See, that's what parody looks like - call backs and inside jokes. We're looking at you, old IBM manuals!)

Extra credit: The Scorpion drinking game! Take a drink every time they say the word "I.P. Address" like it is a minor deity to be worshipped!
(But be careful to already be safe at home!)

To wit: Baywatch lasted on the air for 11 seasons - that's 242 episodes!
-J-Mac (November 05, 2014, 11:19 PM)
--- End quote ---

Baywatch had other things besides making sense to keep your interest.

Not for me! Too many other ways to see such "other things" without having to put up with David Hasselhoff.



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