Saturday, June 16, 2012

Numb3rs: TV series

Oh yes, I'm watching many T.V. series now-a-days. Numb3rs is an FBI detective T.V. series that ran between 2005-2010. Agent Don Eppes is an FBI agent in Los Angeles and handles crime cases that occur in the L.A. area. In this work, he is assisted by his brother, Charles Eppes, who is a professor of Applied Mathematics in the (fictitious) CalSci university. Charlie (as Charles is fondly called) tries to apply his mathematical and statistics knowledge to come up with probabilistic solutions about the crime and about persons involved in it.

Now, here is a professor, who is involved in solving crime for the FBI, using all the knowledge of mathematics he has. Moreover, the FBI officers are portrayed to take his methodologies seriously, even if the conclusions may some times seem wrong or absurd. This  portrayal of a mathematics professor does help in creating a positive image about professors in research universities. There is a big prime-time audience watching this programme.There are many parents and teens in the audience. These are impressionable minds. If they see a particular character being portrayed positively and in a heroic manner, they would certainly develop a liking towards such a character. Remember, how as kids, being a policeman meant having the ability to bash up the bad guys and create piece for the good ones. This is partly because many Bollywood heroes (especially Amitabh Bachchan) were portrayed as positive inspectors. Or like Iftekhar, who invariably was the DCP or DIG in almost every movie. Or how we didn't want to be the lala or sethji since they were portrayed as someone who lives off by making poor people suffer.

 Can something similar be replicated in India? I'm not talking of a detective series alone, but a serial where college professors are shown to positively contribute towards problem solving. Can the 'consulting' aspect of professors be woven in to the story? Today, in most TV series in India (and even movies) a professor is portrayed either as a caricature or some one who is always too theoretical in his/her approach to anything in life. People, therefore, tend to view a professor's career too, in a similar manner. So, while parents complain about the deteriorating quality of teaching, no positive image of professors/teachers is being created, which would motivate young children to take up those jobs. The 'soft-power' of the television needs to be harnessed effectively. Someone in the film/television industry must help out with this. Anybody listening?
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