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Perception

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.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (382 Votes)

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

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Love, love, love Eric McCormack in this new, interesting show. Hope the powers that be will keep it on the air. Usually when you like a good show it is removed from the line up. Here's hoping this doesn't happen.

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Awesome show - Eric McCormick is fabulous. I can't get enough.

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Good concept...characters well thought out..good casting except FBI female agent. What is she 12? It makes it hard to get into the show when one of the main characters appears so very very young. Very distracting. Eric McCormack is excellent.

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I am a HUGE fan of this show!! I always loved Eric McCormack as a comedic actor and had no idea of his scope. He is absolutely amazing in this role and the other cast members are great. Having had a family member with the same mental illness, I know it is a terrible thing to have to live with but seeing that someone can actually manage some positives in spite of it is very captivating to watch. Sure some of it is a little romantisized and sometimes a little convenient but it is a t.v. show afterall.....it has to be entertaining.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this show and can't wait to watch each week. I love how we are now starting to unravel Dr. Pierce's backstory.
Can't say enough good things about this show.....hope it has a long run!!

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I thought Perception was the best show this season. Te role of Dr. Pierce fit Eeric McCormack very well, and i didn't realize how talented he is. I got alot out of the program especialy the lecture scenes at the beginning and the end of the episodes. It has even sparked an interest in neuroscience to add to the topics i have to go back for school for forensics science. I can't say enough how much i liked this series. Again it is one of the best i've seen in a long time. and i've told all my friends (and acquaintances) about it and hoped they watched it. I also hope that perception is a series that will continue with new episodes in november like other tnt sseries, ie rizzoliand iles and others.

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I love this show. I hope it has a long run.

Joyeful

Just watched the pilot. I work in neurology AND I've worked in schizophrenia research. I'm impressed with how well McCormack plays the person with schizophrenia. I just wish that the show was about more. The schizophrenia helped him more with the case than the fact that he's a brilliant neuroscientist. I'm hoping his expertise is worked into the show a bit more. The comments concern me about future episodes. It is possible for a show to question both God and science without being insulting to either. You know, some of us actually believe in both. Take the X-Files, for example. That show questioned everything about everything, aliens, science, God, and did it all without offending anyone on either side. The show Bones has a character who thinks God is a ridiculous concept and another who is serious about his faith. Again, not insulting or offensive to either party. It can be done.

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Interesting season opener, I think Eric McCormack plays the part extremely well. Some good characters in the show. Forces one to think about mental illness in a different light, makes you wonder how and why. Who is normal, are we under a misconception about our mental state of mind at times and what makes us do the things we do. Interesting topic, hope the show continues to actually show people with different neurological capacities when it comes to brain function. Thats where I think the show could make a go of it. We already have lots of cop shows. Keep it interesting......

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love the show it goes with the mentalist

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My husband and I love the show. We enjoy very much wathing Mr. Burton and Mr. McCormick performances in the show. Now, the character that Ms.Cook plays, does it have to wear fancy clothes and HIGH HEEL SHOES when she is running after a suspect? Dosn't look believeable, this kind of kills the momentum. Good luck with the show!!!!!!!!!

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