Tuesdays 10:00 PM on TNT
Perception

Perception Series Premiere Review: What Did You Think?

by at . Comments

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
  • 3.4 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (382 Votes)

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

Tags: ,
Like Us On Facebook

Want more Perception?

Sign up for our daily newsletter and receive the latest tv news delivered to your inbox for free!

More From TV Fanatic

Ryans-confession

Gang Related Review: Golden Boy No More

On tonight's Gang Related, Ryan was forced to make a difficult decision. Which side did he chose?
Satisfaction-costumes

Satisfaction Review: Invisible Masks

On the latest episode of Satisfaction, Neil learns an important lesson about being honest with himself from Adriana while Grace struggles on her new job. Read on for analysis.
The-teams-go-undercover

Rookie Blue Review: Curse of the White Shirt

On Rookie Blue, Oliver turns down extending his contract as Acting Staff Sergeant until Duncan's dismissal hearing turns unpredictable. Read on for more.
A-new-ally

The Bridge Review: Going After the Beast

On tonight's The Bridge, Marco is made an offer that he initially refuses. Will he agree to go after Fausto?

Avatar

I really like this show. However, last night when he called God an a**hole......my heart sank! I waited til the end of the show to see if he apologized to God for that or recanted.....but he didn't. Now I will no longer watch this show.

Avatar

LAST NIGHT ERIC SAID THAT GOD WAS AN ASSHOLE. AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED THAT MAKES HIM ONE AND WE WILL NO LONGER WATCH.

Avatar

I really enjoy the show. Yes he dosen't take his meds which is not reccommened. What I'm happy to see a show that depects a person with mental illness as a valuable person to the community. Not the usaual depiction of a person with this aliment some one that can't take care of himself, let alone work and deal with his condition. Keep more shows like this.

Avatar

I enjoyed the pilot and was looking forward to enjoying the series. But the writing just keeps getting worse from one episode to the next. Tired plots and dialogue, one cliche after another. The plot lines are almost as intellectually insulting as 'Monks.' The writing is so bad I can't enjoy the actors, who I like, and it destroys any interest in the behavior of this variation of the 'tortured genius.' Very disappointed.

Avatar

FINALLY...AN INTELLIGENT AND INNOVATIVE TELEVISION SHOW THAT DOES SOMETHING BESIDES PANDER TO IDIOTS!!!! WITH ALL THE MOVIE REMAKES, I WAS SERIOUSLY DOUBTING THE ABILITY OF SCRIPT WRITERS IN GENERAL BUT, THANK GOODNESS, AS LEAST THIS TV SHOW SCRIPT SPARKLES WITH WELCOME INTELLIGENT THOUGHT!! KUDOS!!!!!

Avatar

GREAT! FANTASTIC!! AMAZING!!! WRITTING. . . is incredible with twists you never see coming. WHO are these people who don't like this show...oh right, probably the same people who like The Mentalist BUT . . . didn't like Lie to Me!

Avatar

While I am a fan of McCormack, the show is a poor montage of Monk, The Mentalist and A Beautiful Mind. It also makes light of a serious mental health issue. He doesn't take his meds because it reduces his "abilities"???? OMG, I hope and pray that my daughter, who is a victim of schizophrenia, does not ever watch this program.

Avatar

I thought it was a good show, yes silly at times, but good. Funny too, Daniel(to me) is a likeable character i hardly watch tv due to the lack of good shows, and i look forward to more episodes of Perception.

Avatar

I think the show is good but a show based in the field of psychiatry should be a little more accurate. You don't give 20ccs of valium and we don't say "commatose" we say "comatose" They should have a better consultant. Otherwise I like the show. And I agree with the above writer who says the character is tortured. That is very accurate.
Mark

Avatar

Enjoy the show EXCEPT that the woman cop mumbles and is very hard to understand. (Same problem with the show NUMB3RS where EVERYONE mumbles.)