Some key subtractions and additions invigorate the engrossing third season of this smart series about an FBI team led by Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) who gets assistance on its toughest cases by Don's brother, Charlie (David Krumholtz), a mathematical genius. Peter MacNicol, as eccentric physics professor Larry Fleinhardt, Charlie's mentor, departed mid-season for a stint on 24
. Diane Farr, as FBI profiler Megan Reeves, left on maternity leave. Enter Kathy Najimy as Charlie's new boss, Mildred ("Millie") Finch, and the exotic Aya Sumika as Special Agent Liz Warner, to give the show what the creators call, in a bonus season retrospective, "more girl energy." What separates Numb3rs
from TV's other, and more grisly, procedural shows is that it emphasizes brains over bleech and intellect over ick. Enjoyment of Numb3rs
is not dependent on your knowledge of "multi-attribute compositional models," "hidden variable theory," or "quadratic discriminate analysis," Just do what the confounded agents on Don's team do whenever Charlie explains how he applies his "intuitive synthesis of established mathematical principles and theorems" to manhunting: "Nod your head and wait for the punchline." Big picture, the cases are compelling in themselves: a psyche-scarred teacher and her young lover embark on a murder spree; a valuable painting originally stolen by Nazis is heisted from an art gallery; someone is bent on killing, not catching, child predators; a music mogul's son is kidnapped; a sinkhole that destroys a school playground reveals the cover-up of illegal toxic waste dumping.
Season 3 also fleshes out the characters. The competitive brothers express newfound respect for each other ("It's amazing how you see things," Don tells Charlie at one point). Charlie and Amita (Navi Rawat), who has accepted a position at the university to teach and do research, attempt to take their budding romantic relationship to the next level. Megan and Larry also become a couple. And in the thrilling and suspenseful season finale, "The Janus List," there is a startling revelation about one of the members on Don's team. Among the notable guest stars include Lou Diamond Phillips, reprising his role as Agent Edgerton, who is willing to cross ethical lines that Don is not. In the episode "Provenance," Gena Rowlands gives a heartbreaking performance as a woman whose family was decimated by the Holocaust. Add such extras as selected episode commentaries, bloopers, and an entertaining set tour with Krumholtz, Morrow, and Judd Hirsch, who helps to anchor the series as Don and Charlie's father, and you have a season whose DVD release is a "special equation." --Donald Liebenson
FBI Special Agent Don Eppes recruits his mathematical genius brother Charlie to help the Bureau solve a wide range of challenging crimes in Los Angeles. The two brothers take on the most confounding criminal cases from a very distinctive perspective. Assisting Don at the FBI is behavioral specialist Megan Reeves and FBI agents David Sinclair and Colby Granger. Charlies colleagues at the University where he teaches include Dr. Larry Fleinhardt and former grad student Amita Ramanjuan, both of whom offer their math expertise to assist Charlie with the most perplexing cases. Don and Charlies father, Alan Eppes, is pleased to see his two sons working together, but fears their competitive nature will lead to trouble.