Wisdom of the Crowd is definitely a show that belongs in 2017.
Starring Jeremy Piven (Entourage) as grieving father and tech entrepreneur Jeffrey Tanner, the show starts off on a grim note as we learn that Tanner’s daughter Mia was killed a year before the premiere’s events. An arrest is made, but Tanner believes that the man convicted, Carlos Ochoa (Ramses Jimenez), isn’t guilty.
As a tech genius, Tanner invents SOPHE, a “crowdsourced crime fighting” platform that allows everyday people to contribute their two cents to solving crimes. Dissatisfied with law enforcement’s investigation, Tanner quite literally takes matters into his own hands (and the Internet’s) to find his daughter’s murderer.
Global News caught up with the cast of Wisdom of the Crowd at the Television Critics Association summer session, where Piven and the others gave us the lowdown. Here are 4 things to know about the new show.
Crowdsourcing is the modern iteration of wanted posters
Social media is king, we all know that. Wisdom of the Crowd smartly seizes on that reality and takes it to the next level, applying it to law enforcement.
“Yelp is crowdsourcing. Waze is crowdsourcing,” said executive producer Ted Humphrey. “And police in law enforcement are beginning to use crowdsourcing. It goes back to the days of wanted posters, but in its modern iteration, it’s putting things on a Facebook page. It’s putting things on Twitter. It’s Amber Alerts. This is the next iteration of that, and it’s an idea that scared the hell out of me when I contemplated it, because we’ve all encountered the yin and the yang of the Internet… the way it can be used as a vehicle for human cooperation, and also the way it can be a haven for conspiracy theories and fake news and whatever else you might want to point to.”
The ultimate premise of Wisdom of the Crowd is that the collective is far smarter than the individual mind, so why not seize on it?
“The fundamental tenet of crowdsourcing is that there is an inherent desire for community, an inherent altruism that, as [Tanner] says in the pilot,” continued Humphrey. “People really do want to be a part of something meaningful. When they’re given the right guidance and given the right platform, the collective can actually be smarter than the smartest person in it. That’s the fundamental tenet of crowdsourcing. It’s the fundamental tenet of the show.”
Tanner’s hunt for Mia’s killer will last the entire first season, at least
From episode to episode, Tanner and SOPHE will work on different cases, not just the hunt for his daughter’s murderer. However, the showrunners say that main case will take at least all of Season 1 to solve. Wisdom of the Crowd, should it be renewed, plans on dissecting all layers of Mia’s murder.
“It’s going to go on at least for the entire first season. Beyond that, these things have a way of changing and morphing, depending on how much story there is to tell and how fun it is to tell it,” said Humphrey. “A version of it is that the first season is about who did it, and after that, it becomes about where are they, and how do we get them, and how do we put them away, and that sort of thing. Will it go on for multiple, multiple seasons? We’ll see. It’ll go on as long as it’s interesting, and I do think that the vehicle of the show can exist without it at some point, but I also think that, coming in, it’s a very compelling and a very emotional story.”
The show is built on heart, not just technology
Piven, who many people forever associated with Entourage character Ari Gold, felt a personal connection to Tanner. Forget the arrogant, boorish Gold; Tanner is consumed by grief over the loss of his daughter and will do anything to find her real killer.
“I was immediately drawn into the world, the characters, the premise and the idea that this guy is heartbroken and trying to fill that void,” said Piven. “He feels that if he finds his daughter then that void will be filled, and he’ll be OK. It’s such a fertile, beautiful premise, ecause it can go anywhere. He doesn’t want this thing to be something that solves crime on a bigger level, he simply wants to solve his daughter’s crime, and then there’s all that conflict within that. To play a guy that has those layers and is a human being and that has… isn’t emotionally available and will ultimately do the wrong thing for the right reasons, I think, is a really brilliant premise.”
Humphrey says that some people have compared the Tanner character to America’s Most Wanted host John Walsh, whose young son disappeared from a mall and was later found dead.
“There are obvious comparisons to John Walsh and Jeffrey Tanner, in that they’re both fathers driven by grief over the loss of a child,” he said. “This show will deal with the impact that this has on his family and on his ex‑wife [Monica Potter]… the potentially devastating divisive impact it has on his whole life. This is a man who upends his entire life and his career and throws it all away in a quest to solve this.”
The Internet is a source of immense power to be wielded
Wisdom of the Crowd is ahead of the curve, in that it’s seizing something that’s all around us and integrating it into the plotline. We’ve never seen a show about crowdsourcing before, and it’s so omnipresent in our lives — from GoFundMe to Change.org — that it seems almost unbelievable it hasn’t happened already.
“Jeffrey Tanner says, ‘We all know that the Internet has changed the world, and the only question is into what?,’” said Humphrey. “I’m very interested in exploring both the good and the bad [about] the Internet. As somebody who’s lived through a world where there wasn’t an Internet and then, obviously, the incredible changes that the Internet has wrought on our life, I like to remember those quaint days when it didn’t exist, and yet they’re gone. They’re gone forever.
So every day, as we sit here, our life is changing in ways we don’t understand because of it. Rather than just let that happen, I think part of the message of the show is to take a really good, hard look at exactly how that’s happening and how we can, in some ways, shape it.”