Season 2 Episode 11


Aired Friday 10:00 PM Dec 16, 2005 on CBS



  • Trivia

    • This episode also uses another real life incident. In Glendale, CA, Fire Captain John Leonard Orr, former fire investigator, got a life sentence in 1998 for a fatal arson that killed four people in a South Pasadena hardware store. He also was found responsible for a string of arsons in California from 1984 to 1991, when he was arrested. This events were dramatized in 2002 HBO's Point of Origin (starring Ray Liotta)- also the title of the book John Orr was writing before his arrest, describing a firefighter-become-arsonist.

    • The ELM is an actual environmentalist group based in Massachusetts.

    • Opening numbers:
      6.013 Fires
      30,000 BTU
      700 Arson deaths
      1 Match

    • If the arsonist was holding the camera to get a good shot of the explosion, then why didn't the sales person see him?

  • Quotes

    • Charlie: Where did you get a cigarette?
      Larry: I know a guy.

    • Larry: There was another fire, and apparently a signed confession does not satisfy Professor Eppes' standard of guilt.

    • Megan:(To Colby) Why don't we try to only break one law a day.

    • Megan: Sometimes people say things to be noticed because being ignored is worse than being blamed.

    • Professor Waldie: Creating the conditions for a backdraft? That's just way cool.

    • Charlie: (to Ethan) Scared of you because they'll never catch up to you in the classroom. Only talking to you because they want your help. And when they do let you sit with them, they have conversations that go over your head and nothing is supposed to go over your head.

    • Megan: (regarding the E.L.M.) Cigarettes? Lighters? Spray paint? I thought you guys were all about clean air.

  • Notes

    • International Episode Titles:
      Czech Republic: Spáleniště (Burnt Place)

    • International Airdates:
      Czech Republic: June 1, 2009 on TV Nova
      Slovakia: November 11, 2009 on JOJ

    • Alimi Ballard (David Sinclair) did not appear in this episode.

    • There was a scene with Ethan being arrested in class, but it was cut due to time constraints.

    • Music:

      "Firestarter" by The Prodigy

      and, when Colby and Megan were walking through the dorm: "Stop Draggin Me Down" by The Obscurities.

    • This episode is rated TVPG-LV.

    • Bill Nye was one of the inspirations for the show. Cheryl Heuton met him in 1994 when she was a journalist, and he talked to her for three hours about how fewer and fewer kids today are studying math and science, and how this was not only going to have a bad result for the nation and the world, it would also mean the loss of much beauty and understanding.

      With the success of Numb3rs, the producers decided to bring Mr. Nye onto to the show as a recurring character. Bill plays a CalSci professor and scientist, Bill Waldie. He's the guy who runs the college's combustion lab.

  • Allusions

    • The arson plot in this episode closely resembles a true-life case. In March 2004, a California Institute of Technology student named William Cottrell was arrested for a string of arsons at four different SUV dealerships. Though the actual methods of arson most likely differed between this episode and Cottrell's case, there are some striking commonalities.

      Cottrell allegedly torched 125 SUVs at those four dealerships. What makes this especially similar to this episode's plotline is that, when boasting about his actions to the Los Angeles Times, Cottrell falsely claimed himself to be member of the Earth Liberation Front.

      Given the parallels between Caltech and "CalSci" and the actual ties between the show and Caltech, this is all certainly more than just coincidental.

    • Professor Waldie: " …way cool."
      "Way Cool" was commonly used to describe the sciences in the Public Television series "Bill Nye the Science Guy," hosted by Bill Nye. It was no coincidence Professor Waldie, played by Bill Nye, used the same phrase to describe a backdraft.

    • Later in this episode, Megan says that about 300 years ago, London was burned to the ground. The guy who confessed to it wasn't even in London at the time and they didn't even know it until two days after he was hanged for the crime. Wikipedia reveals that the fire started on September 2, 1666, and that it was Robert "Lucky" Hubert, a French watch-maker, who confessed to the crime, possibly after being tortured. His confession was accepted and he was convicted even though there was overwhelming evidence he did not commit the crime.

    • Megan refers to the two arsonists as Leopold and Loeb, a leader and a follower. She goes on to say that they were murderers in the 1920s. According to Wikipedia, they set out to commit the perfect crime, but both were caught and received sentences of life plus 99 years.

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