TV Review: ‘Wisdom of the Crowd,’ Starring Jeremy Piven

A new CBS drama solves crimes through crowd-sourced investigation and surveillance

Jeremy Piven, Richard T. Jones, Natalia Tena, Monica Potter, Blake Lee, Jake Matthews

Wisdom of the Crowd” is about wealthy Silicon Valley businessman Jeffrey Tanner (Jeremy Piven)’s decision to give up his career in order to devote himself to an online, networked crime investigation platform called Sophe. In practice, Sophe is essentially Reddit — a community of amateur sleuths eager to get to the bottom of open mysteries, and sharing evidence with each other via their phones  — but “Wisdom of the Crowd” makes Sophe’s headquarters a glossy, sophisticated hivemind. Piven throws himself into the role with an abandon that is really not at all necessary: He crosses his arms and paces, he shouts, he breaks the rules.

Broadcast procedurals that put way too much faith in technology are nothing new; last year’s “Bull,” also on CBS, features Michael Weatherly solving crimes in a remarkably similar way. But even with that in mind, it’s breathtaking how wholeheartedly enthusiastic “Wisdom of the Crowd” is about the rather controversial notion of total social surveillance. “Bull” presents its protagonist as a man who cannot wholly be relied on, and his tactics are used behind-the-scenes to enhance his courtroom questioning. In “Wisdom of the Crowd,” mob justice is just plain justice. At the end of the pilot, several Sophe users at a train station identify a passenger as the current suspect. They surround him with their phones up, relentlessly filming him, until police come to arrest him; it’s like the end of “Black Mirror’s” episode “White Bear,” except distressingly unironic. There is no discussion whatsoever about what his rights might be in that situation; the Sophe users don’t even know if he’s guilty or just a person of interest. And yet their cornering of their prey is served to the audience as a triumph, for Sophe and Jeffrey, and the public at large.

And beyond the curiously Big-Brother-friendly themes, “Wisdom of the Crowd” is just a rehash of drama tropes. In grim procedural tradition, Jeffrey’s motivation is driven by a personal tragedy; his daughter’s murderer was never found, and he is partly using Sophe to try to track down that still at-large killer. There’s also a subplot with his ex-wife, Alex (Monica Potter), and the long-suffering sighs of actual detective Tommy Cavanaugh (Richard T. Jones), the only sympathetic character in the pilot.

If “Wisdom of the Crowd” finds a way back towards investigating the complexity of solving crimes through social media, it could become a sturdy enough procedural; Piven’s Jeffrey is a character practically itching to be a little evil. But based on the pilot, the show is pursuing a less nuanced approach.

TV Review: 'Wisdom of the Crowd,' Starring Jeremy Piven

Drama, pilot reviewed: CBS, Sun. Oct. 1, 8 p.m. 60 min.

Crew: Executive producers, Ted Humphrey, Adam Davidson, Avi Nir, Alon Shtruzman, Peter Traugott, Rachel Kaplan, Dror Mishani, Shira Hadad

Cast: Jeremy Piven, Richard T. Jones, Natalia Tena, Monica Potter, Blake Lee, Jake Matthews

More TV

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

  • Teyonah Parris

    Teyonah Parris Cast in 'WandaVision' at Disney Plus

    “Mad Men” and “If Beale Street Could Talk” actress Teyonah Parris has been cast in Disney Plus’ “Wanda Vision” series. She will play an adult version of Monica Rambeau, a child character introduced in the film “Captain Marvel.” The announcement was made at Marvel’s Comic-Con presentation. The forthcoming Disney+ series about Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth [...]

  • Zachary Quinto as Charlie Manx - NOS4A2

    'NOS4A2' Renewed for Season 2 at AMC

    AMC has renewed “NOS4A2” for a second season. The news was announced during the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con and ahead of the Season 1 finale. Season 2 will consist of 10 episodes and is slated to air in 2020. The series, which is based on the 2013 Joe Hill novel of the same [...]

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Netflix Deal With Expanded Coverage

    SAG-AFTRA and streaming giant Netflix have agreed to a new three-year contract with expanded coverage for union performers. Netflix has previously employed SAG-AFTRA members under the union’s standard master contracts for television and film and had been signing on a production by production basis. The union announced Saturday that the new deal recognizes performance capture as covered work [...]

  • Cara Delevingne'Carnival Row' TV show photocall,

    Cara Delevingne Says Her 'Carnival Row' Character Is Pansexual, Explains Defending Taylor Swift Against Justin Bieber

    Cara Delevingne and Orlando Bloom’s love affair may be at the center of the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series “Carnival Row,” but the British actress doesn’t want viewers to assume her faerie character is heterosexual. “I’m a pansexual faerie,” Delevingne told Variety during an exclusive one-on-one interview at Comic-Con adding that there are other queer [...]

  • 'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins

    'Russian Doll' Star Charlie Barnett Joins 'Arrow' Final Season

    “Russian Doll” standout Charlie Barnett is joining the “Arrowverse.” Barnett, who is having a busy year having also appeared in Netflix’s “Tales of the City,” comes on board in the series regular role of John Diggle, Jr., son of David Ramsey’s character. News of his casting was announced at the show’s farewell Comic-Con panel where things [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content