October 1, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere TV Review: “Wisdom Of the Crowd”


WISDOM OF THE CROWD:  Sunday 8PM on CBS – Change the Channel

CBS’s WISDOM OF THE CROWD is for the people who thought the problem with FOX’s canceled APB was that it didn’t star Jeremy Piven.  Once again we have a high-tech billionaire who decides to privatize crimefighting after someone close to him is killed, although Wisdom eschews the borderline sci-fi weaponry of the FOX show and concentrates entirely on crowdsourced clues and surveillance, the prize for participants being a $100M reward if the real killer of Jeffrey Tanner’s (Piven) daughter is uncovered.

In real life, such an offer would likely lead to vigilante justice and very possibly to violence against innocent suspects; Wisdom of the Crowd makes a gesture toward acknowledging those risks, but unlike Person of Interest, which was relatively thoughtful about issues of the police state, Wisdom sidesteps its complications as much it can in order to celebrate the populist justice brought about by its tycoon hero.  Tanner is much more self-effacing than the Justin Kirk character on APB, to make the concept go down easier–he’s strong-willed, but an idealist at heart.  Richard T. Jones is the San Francisco police detective forced to appreciate the effectiveness of the crowdsourcing concept, and Tanner’s team includes his beautiful secret girlfriend (Natalia Tena, of both Harry Potter and Game of Thrones), a dweeb (Blake Lee) and a wild card hacker (Jake Matthews), apparently so every possible cliche could be ticked off.  Monica Potter shows up briefly as Tanner’s ex-wife.

If one can overlook its reckless premise, the Wisdom of the Crowd pilot, written by series creator Ted Humphrey (a longtime Good Wife writer/producer) and directed by Adam Davidson, is a smooth piece of work.  The gimmick is that while the murder of Tanner’s daughter was still unsolved after the first hour, along the way the system found a separate killer, launching the crime-of-the-week structure while retaining the central murder as a serialized element that can pop up for sweeps episodes and the like.  In classic CBS procedural style, clues were assembled segment by segment, as excitement mounted among the team that justice would be done, and in the final act the scumbag bad guy was caught.  A low-key Piven is more Mr. Selfridge here than Entourage‘s Ari Gold, and everyone else in the cast seems to be collecting a paycheck.

Wisdom of the Crowd has been slotted between 60 Minutes and NCIS: LA on CBS’s football Sundays, and its very Trump-era values (it could just as well have been titled Wisdom Of the Rich Guy) may well find an audience on TV’s most red-state broadcast network.  For the rest of us, everything here is more than a little routine, from the make-up of the regular characters to the way, each week, a crime will be tied up with a bow after around 42 minutes of screen time.  Wisdom Of the Crowd believes in its algorithms, and would be the first to say that numbers don’t lie.  For those who feel likewise, this could be their show.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."