TV Series Review
We're innocent until proven guilty. So we're told. And so it's supposed to be.
But sometimes, proof can be all too ephemeral.
Take the sad case of Mia Tanner, daughter of tech savant Jeffrey Tanner. A year ago, someone murdered her. The cops caught their man—or so they thought. They put him on trial, and a jury of his peers convicted him. The man, Carlos Ochoa, was sent to prison.
But Jeffrey, creator of a massive social network, doesn't believe Carlos did it. He's convinced the cops caught the wrong guy. And that means the real killer is still on the streets.
So Jeffrey decides to take matters into his own hands: He sells his business and pumps millions into a new venture he calls Sophia, a crowd-sourced crime-fighting tool. Instead of relying on overworked cops and an overburdened justice system, he's launching his own investigation. And he's inviting a hundred million of his closest friends to join him.
Sophia, Jeffrey believes, will do more than just solve his daughter's murder. The tech marvel might just become the future of law enforcement itself—the all-seeing eye of justice, a super-detective comprised of millions upon millions of smartphones.
But this marvelous technological tool just might come with its own set of problems.
Innocent Until Streamed Guilty
Jeffrey means well, and he understands the danger of crowdsourced … well, anything. He wants to come alongside law enforcement, not supplant it with some digital vigilante system. So he's brought Det. Tommy Cavanaugh on board as a police liaison of sorts. Cavanaugh, not Jeffrey, ultimately is supposed to call the shots regarding what to post and when, and he's the one who follows up on any leads Sophia might generate. Well, Cavanaugh and his boss, Lt. Elena Ruiz, who made her name on the Mia Tanner case.
But Sophia is still a work in progress. The program's myriad resources sometimes jump to wrong—even dangerous—conclusions. Together, those high-tech clues might accidentally track the wrong evildoer or let the right one go.
Sophia's human caretakers are sometimes all-too-human themselves. The algorithms might be a little off. An ill-timed coffee break could throw things awry. A little bias might slip in. It's possible that Tariq, a former hacker, might just try to break the law to catch a suspected lawbreaker. So while Sophia's logic may be strictly binary, the messy reality out on the streets can feel a mite less certain.
I'm not sure if I'm the ideal viewer for a show like Wisdom of the Crowd. I'm just a little bit too old-school, perhaps. At best, it seems as if Sophia offers, essentially, a digital upgrade to the standard, post office "WANTED" poster, or perhaps a more responsible version of Reddit. At worst it seems as though Sophia could be used as a tool for harassment, false accusations and mob-based justice just as much as it could be for legitimate crime solving. And certainly, neither Sophia nor her handlers get too verklempt over privacy rights.
"We gave that up a long time ago so we could watch cat videos on our phone," Jeffrey quips.
To its credit, the show acknowledges the discomforting line that Sophia and its well-intended handlers must walk—a line that's sometimes quite blurry. An Uber-like driver is attacked by well-meaning Sophia users when someone connects his vehicle to a crime scene, for example. And I expect that Jeffrey's crime-fighting zeal and Tommy's policeman prudence will clash frequently—perhaps every episode.
But given that this is CBS, home to roughly 15 quintillion crime procedurals, we can also assume that Wisdom in the Crowd isn't so much interested in a telegenic mulling of the intersection between tech-augmented crime-fighting and privacy laws as it is with bringing a terrible do-badder to justice in every episodic hour.
And like most crime procedurals, this show comes with its own set of content issues. Violence, while not as extreme as we see on some similar series, is still an ever-present threat. Jeffrey's sexual relationship with Sara, head of Sophia's operations team, further complicates the show. Profanity can be heard regularly as well.
In the pilot episode, Jeffrey tells Tommy about the 90-10 rule found in crowdsourcing: "Ninety percent of anything is garbage, but 10% of anything is a h--- of a lot of bling." Wisdom of the Crowd isn't, thankfully, 90% garbage. But what "bling" we find here isn't all that impressive, either.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
+Wisdom of the Crowd: Oct. 1, 2017"Pilot"
Readability Age Range
Jeremy Piven as Jeffrey Tanner; Richard T. Jones as Detective Tommy Cavanaugh; Natalia Tena as Sara Morton; Ion Overman as Elena Ruiz; Jai Rodriguez as David; Jake Matthews as Tariq Bakari; Monica Potter as Alex Hale; Malachi Weir as Mike Leigh; Blake Lee as Josh Novak; Ramses Jimenez as Carlos Ochoa; Abigail Cowen as Mia Tanner