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“Scorpion” is Like “The Big Bang Theory” if Leonard and His Pals Were Real Superheroes

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CBS really wants you to know that “Scorpion” is like “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s just not a straight comedy, and the geeks do computer-y stuff instead of science-y stuff. The differences don’t stop there, but the show really does have quite a lot in common with the sitcom about four guy geeks and a waitress.

The computer nerds on “Scorpion” (stylized as “</scorpion> “) are like the superheroes that “The Big Bang Theory” guys adore – this geek squad is saving the world. However, they don’t need capes and superpowers to keep planes from falling from the sky in the series’ first episode. They don’t even need to fly into space like Howard or build lasers like Leonard. Instead of using computers to play “Super Mario” on a bad Nintendo 64 emulator, they use technology to neutralize “the complex threats of the modern age.”

The “Scorpion” team isn’t going to spend large chunks of the show eating Chinese food while watching the “Star Wars” trilogy. Instead the nerds bond by forming a think-tank for Homeland Security. According to TV Tango, the team of super-geniuses includes expert behaviorist Toby Curtis (Eddie Kaye Thomas), mechanical genius Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), and human calculator Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham). However, these brainiacs look like Padawans next to Jedi Master Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel). The eccentric hacker is the show’s main character, and he’s based on a real guy with the fourth-highest IQ ever.

Robert Patrick plays Cabe Gallo, a federal agent who “shares a harrowing history with O’Brien.” O’Brien was one of the FBI’s most-wanted hackers when he was just a kid, so I’m guessing this is where the harrowing history comes from. There’s no doubt the agent and the hacker will butt heads now that they’re going to be working together.

It’s interesting that O’Brien and Sheldon Cooper both got in trouble with the government as kids – a teenage Dr. Cooper once tried to hack into a government super computer to buy uranium. This is the type of threat that O’Brien will be counted on to catch.

The real O’Brien is very involved with “Scorpion” (he’s an executive producer), and he’s way too much like Sheldon in real life. During an interview with the Denver Post, O’Brien talked about being socially awkward and saying the sort of things Sheldon is always saying to Penny. “My internal sounding board is broken,” he said. “I will tell my friend she looks fat in those jeans…It’s really about trying to figure out what’s appropriate.”

O’Brien might be just as horrible at talking to women as Sheldon is, but he has something in common with Leonard when it comes to the ladies – he’s actually interested in them. According to Zap2it, Walter breaks up with a girl in the pilot. “One of the opening scenes, Elyes is breaking up with a girl while pulling a piece of paper out of his pocket about how it would go, laying it out as a plan. That’s not fictitious,” the real O’Brien said. “Relationships have always been both a learning point and a challenge for me.”

O’Brien has a love interest on “Scorpion,” and she’s an attractive waitress. However, this show’s Penny is named Paige (Katharine McPhee), and she has a son who just happens to be brilliant. She serves as the geek squad’s connection to “normal” people, and I’m guessing the nerds will return the favor by helping her connect with her kid. Judging from a video preview, Paige has no idea her son is a genius until she encounters the geeks – she describes the boy as being “challenged.”

According to “The Hollywood Reporter,” Paige and Walter’s relationship will be less “Lenny” and more “Shamy.” Walter’s first words to Paige are a comment about how her pitted nails are a sign of anemia, so you might have to wait years to see the couple kiss or hold hands.

“Scorpion” might seem like a drama, but those connected to it are wholeheartedly embracing “The Big Bang Theory” comparisons by making sure viewers know that the new show will feature plenty of comedic moments. Executive producer Nick Santora talked about the comparisons during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.

“Any comparisons to “Big Bang Theory,” we’ll all take it — and we’ll take their ratings,” Santora said. “If our show can mimic some of the organic humor that comes out of being different because of heightened intellect, then we’re doing our job.”

Executive producer/pilot director Justin Lin actually described “Scorpion” as a “fun-cedural.” Basically CBS took its popular crime procedurals and mashed them up with its popular nerd comedy to create the most CBS show ever.

However, “Scorpion” will have one thing “The Big Bang Theory” does not: action sequences. The pilot actually features a chase scene involving a plane and a sexy sports car. The closest thing to an action scene in “The Big Bang Theory” was that time Sheldon attempted to drive.

“Scorpion” seems to have it all, but it could suffer from one fatal flaw. Fans don’t want to see Leonard and his pals at work all day, so will they be interested in watching Walter and his crew write on chalkboards and talk about algorithms? Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the “Scorpion” team will ever have enough free time to go on an epic journey to Comic-Con or produce a fun podcast about flags.

If you want to see if “Scorpion” will really turn out to be CBS’s next “Big Bang Theory,” check it out starting Monday, September 22 at 9 p.m.


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Treva Bowdoin is a freelance writer who loves crazy comedies and creepy shows like "The Walking Dead" and "American Horror Story".

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