It's not often in our lives that our younger selves get to become magically older, like Tom Hanks did in Big or even receive the chance to revert from middle-age back to a teenager. And while Matthew Perry doesn't turn into Zac Efron here, Perception takes an interesting, albeit far-fetched, spin on the concept of time and being 17 again in this week's episode, "86'd."
Once again, Agent Kate Moretti's been stumped by her current FBI case and she eagerly seeks Dr. Daniel Pierce's astute and brilliant mind to solve the cold case that's been re-opened. I'm surprised he's not getting paid for his consults, but I'm sure that solving complex crimes is more than enough of a payoff for him.
Luckily the clues of the 1986 "Date Night" killer are in open sight, ranging from a leftover journal to a print that matches the old murders to the one victim that escaped with her life. Except there's a catch (isn't there always?): the victim, Lacey Penderholt, had a psychotic break and still thinks the year is 1986.
That's right, it's been 26 years since her kidnapping and assault and she's been trapped in an endless loop of Tears for Fears music and preparing to go see Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Which wouldn't be all that bad apart from freaking out at your own aged reflection and oh, yes, the brain damage.
Turns out being 17 again isn't all the whimsical fun it's cracked up to be and frankly another example of a sad but rare condition.
Which I'll give the show credit for introducing these wild and surreal brain problems to the point that I actually want to look them up and learn more. Can you believe there are people out there that suffer from these?
Although, it's still hard at times to take some of the concepts as seriously as the series wants viewers to. Even the idea of a middle-aged woman who thinks she's young can feel laughable and the "teenage antics" (sometimes the way Lacey spoke and acted felt younger than 17) can make it difficult to keep you wholly invested in the show.
You really have to take everything you know, or think you know, and toss it out the window and lay a certain level of trust in the show's hands because ultimately, it's going to go far out there. It's going to ask you to believe in the truth about these cases and suspend your disbelief. Really suspend it.
Which is certainly asking a lot but the ideas are interesting enough and there's something entertaining about watching Eric McCormack's Dr. Pierce voraciously eat up clues and sift through evidence and facts with a whirlwind pace. Even the rapid fire dialogue of difficult sounding medical and scientific terms make me wonder how tough it is to remember those insanely specific lines and keep a serious face.
McCormack keeps on bringing a certain warmth to his distressed character and its easy to glimpse moments where he feels comfortable being himself, his persistent desire to help others and simply loving to solve really hard problems. I just hope his character doesn't fully crack (although, I'm sure at some point he will) because he seems like such an earnestly good guy.
And on some level, it's fun to watch Dr. Pierce lay out his usually well thought answers towards people that just don't have a clue. He always notices even if he doesn't realized he's noticed. Hence the freaky backwards bicycling.
Rachael Leigh Cook was given plenty more to do as she interacted mostly with Lacey, had some father/daughter time and took down the bad guy. I was pleased that not only was her character smart enough to call for backup, but she didn't bust into the house all alone. True, she did manage to be the one to save the day while her partner lay on the floor, but kudos to the aspiring agent.
I'm still holding out for more screen time from Arjay Smith as Max Lewicki, but his few moments with Moretti proved both characters held a care and concern for their professor friend. They both bring him puzzles. A little cheesy for a line, but it's heart and theirs was in the right place.
Perception is taking a while to heat itself up, but each episode is slowly allowing its characters to come into their own. Overall, it fits the regular bill of what a procedural does, but I hope that it doesn't bog itself down in introducing cool unique and unheard of disorders for the sake of putting the characters to the wayside.
Ultimately, that's what will help keep this show alive and have viewers wanting to see not necessarily what craziness is involved, but how everyone manages to deal with it.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.