There’s a lot to like – as there always is – about this episode of Limitless. Brian and Rebecca investigate the death of Eloise Carlisle, a software engineer at CRAFT, the firm which a couple of weeks ago gave Brian a jetpack, and gave us the stellar ‘Arm-ageddon’ episode. Eloise had been working on Project Mind-Vault, in which the contents of a brain are downloaded into a computer, then uploaded into a robotic head thingy. As she had also mind-vaulted her own brain, this affords Brian and Rebecca the novel opportunity to interview an after-the-fact murder victim to try to find out if anyone had been threatening her.
Meantime, in what will, I suspect, turn out to be the most significant part of the episode, Rebecca is refusing to let Senator Morra’s assassination attempt go; having established that the coats were switched, she’s trying to find out who might have done it. Brian is torn here: as well as trying to persuade Sands that the investigation is done and dusted, thus protecting Rebecca, he knows that when she finds out what happened she will regard this as a betrayal too far. And Mike and Ike have recruited a third body man – Spike – for Brian, whose Headquarters! now has – or have they always been there? – fetching “Business” and “Pleasure” neon signs, to be switched on and off as the conversation in the office requires.
The problem with ‘Fundamentals of Naked Portraiture’, though, is that the A-plot stubbornly refuses to leave the runway. There are some interesting ideas about consciousness in there – and some sinister robot heads – but compared to what, say, Elementary did with a broadly similar concept, Limitless didn’t quite get there, and cramming an episode’s worth of exposition into thirty seconds is admission rather than mitigation.
But now I need to process the news that the show has been cancelled by CBS. I’m far too long in the tooth to take these things personally, or throw around accusations about broadcasters hating shows (they don’t care), or treating audiences like idiots (ditto), or not giving shows time to grow (they almost never grow); it’s a business, and if Limitless isn’t paying its way then it’s inevitable that it’ll be sacrificed. I do, though, think it’s a great shame that a show as imaginative, inventive, and witty as this couldn’t find the audience it needed. And deserved.