Perception Series Premiere Review: What Did You Think?

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It's easy to look at TNT's new crime procedural, Perception, and have your thoughts wander to a list full of other television series that have contained lead characters with quirky, eccentric and overly observant tendencies that help drive them to cracking cases when some just can't fathom the truth behind the clues.

Programs like MonkPsychNumb3rs and a slew of others have come and gone adding certain depth, humor and dramatic storytelling by often exploring the characters in addition to solving the mysteries. It seems to be a time-tested formula that's garnered successes and failures, but won't ever quit.

Which begs less of the question, "Do we need another?" and more so: "What makes Perception a compelling take on the popular genre?"

Because let's face it, as much as critics could groan about the similarities of the concept across shows, the fact remains that there's something entertaining about watching a mystery unfold, especially when the sleuths themselves can be fascinating to watch.

Professor Daniel Pierce

Eric McCormack leads the cast as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a professor of neuroscience with a brilliant mind that allows him to see and read everything in a vastly different light, hence the title of the show.

Except while the scruffily good looking actor has often used his charm and smile to encapsulate his characters, his portrayal of Pierce is much more seriously tormented and driven. McCormack throws himself fully into the role providing a dichotomy between his confident demeanor in the classroom and zeroing in on the unseen answers, and his discomfort with the people around him.

He's socially awkward. Sort of.

Ultimately, though, it is Pierce's struggles with schizophrenia and seeing particular hallucinations that become both the gift and the curse for McCormack's character.

It's these imaginary people that help him solve the cases, essentially figments of his subconscious trying to spell out the clues as his fastidious brain works endlessly to get the answer. McCormack relies on a focused furrow of expression and subtle movements of his fingers and body to help bring to life the character that isn't the "freak" that everyone else seems to think he is.

I mean, c'mon, the guy has college co-eds throwing themselves at him.

There's certainly a determination to make this character succeed and McCormack's likeability shines through so that you hope he can learn to handle the schizophrenia and not succumb to it, a la John Nash in the film A Beautiful Mind.

His trusty sidekick (or is it the other way around?) is the youthfully pretty Rachael Leigh Cook, who continues to look as good as she did back in the teen flick She's All That. Except now she wears red trench coats and jumps off fire escapes. I wonder what Freddie Prinze Jr. would have to say about that?

Her Kate Moretti was a former pupil of Pierce and while the character claims to be as unorthodox and intuitive as her past professor, for the pilot, she seems to fall back into a place of observe and learn. I just hope we get to see her show off her set of skills and prove at some point that the student has become the master.

I wish Arjay Smith (as Max Lewicki) had a little bit more to do, but even with his few scenes, I already am looking forward to seeing what he can do with the character and what ways he will work with Pierce. Hopefully he adds a sense of lighthearted hope around the serious professor.

The premiere does a good job setting up the style of the show and introducing the characters but doesn't necessarily jump off the page right away. And one of my biggest fears is the use of Pierce's hallucinations as simple plot device to help move a case along rather than be utilized as a vivid look into his wondrously gifted mind.

Some of the best scenes were less about solving the case but watching him lecture his students during class where the man illustrates his comfort and prowess in the subjects that he knows. It works as a nice bookend piece for the episode and provides a certain narration for the context of the hour as well.

Even his conversations with Natalie Vincent, who he once dated and is now his close friend, helps ground Pierce and find a stability for him in the unstable world. Of course, things aren't always what they seem, but after the first twist that really just sets up the premise and backdrop of his character, Natalie's reveal is less shocking and more sad.

So does Perception prove that it stands out on its own merits?

In a way, yes, but it certainly takes a bit to get itself going and the subsequent episodes really help build upon and further establish the characters. The show isn't perfect and at times certain moments (the human lie detector anyone?) just felt too silly to be real, but the cast is amiable and the take different enough to be appealing. Although sometimes I wished a little more humor might lighten the very serious mood of the show, the pilot stays true to itself and promises that there's a long road ahead both for Daniel Pierce and the cases he solves.

Now whether viewers are ready to take that mind altering trip? I guess that all depends on your perception.


Editor Rating: 3.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (385 Votes)

Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


I tried to get interested in the show because I found that Eric McCormack had done so very well in another shows, with his very humorous antics and an overall acting abilities, being able to pull almost any part off perfectly. But I found I found that the young almost schoolgirl aged looking actress, trying to play the role roll a full-grown lady policewoman a bit unbelievable and as much as she seems to be apparently working hard at the role she just doesn't seem to hit the mark as she looks and acts far to young to actually be holding a position of responsibility like that and her girlish charm and slight overacting in my opinion just cheapens the whole show down, rendering it all totally uninteresting and almost impossible to watch. Thanks for allowing my comments. Wes


I absolutely loved it! And, human lie detector it is a quite true concept... Aphasics spot the lies better than healthy people,even if they do not understand spoken language...


Who cast Kate in this role - she is really awful. I would enjoy the show if she could act - she's way too young.


One of the best shows on TV right now. Not your typical 'Who dunnit' that keeps you thinking all the way through it.


The whole "God is an asshole" thing? I honestly think that God would be infinitely happier hearing the honest words of someone than all of the empty platitudes offered up from Sunday followers of Churchianity. Before you religious hypocrites point your fingers, remember the narrow path & that God will say to many who claimed they knew Him "away from me, I never knew you".


An absolutely BRILLIANT series! With all the television out there, one show can pretty much run into another until it's all a blur. Then came this it, Eric is an amazing actor! Can't wait to see more.


After the "God is an A**hole" comment, this show will never be watched again in my home. So dis respectful and unnecessary!


I am really enjoying this programme and while their are similar shows around, Monk for example, this show deals sympathetically with schizophrenia in my opinion.
I am impressed with Eric's portrayal of Daniel and also his producing/directing skills!
Eric's character is non-compliant with his medication...I would hazard a guess that his listening to music, crosswords, teaching and his assistant help to make his condition more manageable and the assistant is there mainly to assess Daniel's moods and hallucinations...Of course the show is not advocating that schizophrenics not take their medications...just that some may and in fact do not take them!
Why people get so upset about political or religious mentions and joking is way beyond me...not gonna watch this show anymore...gonna write to sponsors...pulease! There are people out there who have the audacity to hold different views to you...get over it!-or write your own TV shows!:) Of course everyone has a choice whether to watch or not but...IT IS A TELEVISION SHOW people...It will be dramatised and romantised of course...that's what TV does most of the time. I don't think it is a rip off of THE MENTALIST, HOUSE, MONK, LIE TO ME etc...all shows which I enjoy...there are similarities but not overwhelmingly...but of course as another poster mentioned ideas are taken from everywhere including other people's work!
Anyway hope the show continues but it will probably be cancelled like so many good(in my opinion)shows usually are...
later x


Great way to get characteristics of mental illness out to the general public.
Eric McCormack makes convincing scenarios. Mental illness needs to be treated ike any other serious medical illness.Keep this excellent program going, please.


I am enjoying this show very much. I find it entertaining and thought provoking. Love the characters and the unique perspective in the story lines. I hope it is around for a long time! I am looking for a recording of Eric Mc Cormack singing "ain't no sunshine when she's gone" it was lovely!

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