You have to wonder what’s going on at CBS where their most successful formulas have been taking on people with extremely high I.Q’s. If you’ve never seen CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory”, you’re missing one of the most popular sitcoms on TV and one that seems to have invigorated the genre. When “Theory” first debuted, nobody thought that a sitcom about annoyingly brilliant scientists would ever be able to catch on. In fact, as with all great sitcoms, it took a while to find an audience. Only astute pop culture critics who realized the potential of the show managed to get word out to a point where viewers were finally roped in.
Then you have the show “Numbers” that had a healthy five-year CBS run from 2005 to 2010. This was about a mathematical genius with a penchant for solving murders on a level akin to a Sherlock Holmes. Because that Holmesian formula always seems to go over well and creates a field day for writers, this show took a gimmicky idea and made it a worthwhile hour of drama.
Now CBS is going to tackle those with unusually high I.Q.’s yet again with a series next fall called “Scorpion.” This time, we’re going to be seeing these people as near superheroes rather than misunderstood scientists who shun outside society. And this is an interesting new take on characters with high I.Q.’s that almost bleeds right into reality. It also enhances an old comedic formula that pits the snooty intelligentsia against the more average Joe.
The Old “Frasier” Formula
If you grew up watching “Cheers” and its offspring “Frasier” on NBC, you know about how they mastered the formula of the intellectual colliding with more average folks. While there was a bit of that in reverse already back to the “Honeymooners” era of the 1950s, adding intellectual Frasier Crane to the mix on “Cheers” was pure comedic manna. It also kicked off a fun comedic formula where the intellectual snob can’t relate to the more average people around her or him.
This same formula was brought to “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon was essentially another Frasier Crane who hated low-minded society and gave witty barbs back at them to retaliate. Even if Frasier Crane didn’t necessarily have the intellect Sheldon Cooper has, it’s even more biting coming from someone who’s off the I.Q. charts.
What makes upcoming “Scorpion” sound worthwhile is that it may be doing a balance of the above and showing how useful those with high I.Q’s could be in society.
Will “Scorpion” Inspire Mensa Members to Save the World?
Those who belong to Mensa seem to have far too much stigma attached to their ability than they do in doing something positive. If you think those with high I.Q.’s like to boast more about it than put it to good use, you might be both right and wrong. No doubt there’s also bias in certain powerful positions against those with superior intellects out of fear they wouldn’t fit in to a particular company. Not that placing how high your I.Q. is on your resume is really a good idea when searching for work.
In “Scorpion”, we see the intelligentsia working hard to actually save the world from the nefarious people out there who want to hurt us. This could essentially be the first superhero team that operates based on the superpower of intelligence rather than physical strength. At the same time, they may not always function normally within the real world. Katharine McPhee will reportedly play a pivotal role in helping these super geniuses stay more grounded.
But will this show give more inspiration toward using America’s bank of Mensa members to band together and solve problems? Think tanks are everywhere, yet we don’t see anything overly productive come from them. Or perhaps these people really are working out there clandestinely for government agencies. Regardless, it doesn’t always fit the persona of those possessing the burden of a high I.Q. while living in normal society.
We’ll have to see how much further CBS takes this interesting new genre of geniuses helping make the world a better place. The other networks may want to take notice since we now know it can continue to work just as well in comedy as it does in drama.