Stay Tuned: 'Perception' is more fun than your average crime-solving show
On TNT's new series “Perception,” Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack), a brilliant neuroscience professor, uses his unique skills to help the FBI solve cases. Pierce can see patterns in words and letters that others don't.
In the first episode, he discovers an anagram hidden within a series of emails, which quickly leads to a suspect in a murder investigation. He also sees people that aren't real. They appear to him during a case and give him clues to solve it. They are manifestations of his subconscious mind who help him make sense of things his conscious mind can't figure out.
Put simply, Daniel is the “nutty professor” character whose “nuttiness” is a real condition.
If you've seen the film “A Beautiful Mind” or ever caught an episode of the TV series “Monk,” “Perception” will feel familiar. Like those stories, it plays with the idea that genius and madness often go hand in hand and challenges the audience to reconsider their idea of what is normal.
On “Perception,” episodes begin with Daniel giving his students a lecture. The questions he poses in the lecture will form the basis for the case that he will later consult on. In the first two episodes these questions are variations of the show's overall theme, namely: “What is real?”
What is real and enjoyable about this series is Eric McCormack's performance. He makes you root for Daniel because you like the character not because you feel sorry for him. It's a small distinction but an important one when portraying a character with a condition that casts him as an outsider.
The writers help this characterization along by making Daniel a popular professor who is funny and confident in the classroom, if not in his everyday life.
Daniel's loyal teaching assistant Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith) gently helps him when his condition threatens to take control. The love interest is his former student Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook), who is now the FBI agent who asks for his help.
While their interactions bring nothing new to the typical romance storyline, the chemistry between Cook and McCormack works and they successfully lay the groundwork for the “will they or won't they” subplot. The one character who remains a mystery is Daniel's friend Natalie Vincent (Kelly Rowan), his best friend and former girlfriend who intellectually challenges him but is not quite what she seems.
I'm sure the writers will probably stretch out the Daniel/Kate romance part of the show for awhile but the more immediate game of trying to guess which character is Daniel's hallucination is a clever way to keep the viewer involved every week. It's not always difficult to figure out who it is but then you start to wonder if there are multiple unreal people and the show suddenly becomes more layered and more fun than your average crime-solving series.
“Perception” is on Monday at 10 p.m. EDT/9 p.m. CDT on TNT.