With 'Perception,' yet another crime-solving civilian consultant added to TV's crowded lineup
Doug Hyun, Turner Entertainment Networks
According to advance press materials for the new drama “Perception,” lead character Dr. Daniel Pierce is “an eccentric neuroscientist who uses his unique outlook to help the federal government solve complex cases. With an intimate knowledge of human behavior and a masterful understanding of the mind, this quirky, crime-solving professor pulls lessons from an odd and imaginative view of the world.”
Which is to say, nothing at all like the lead characters in “Criminal Minds,” “Monk” or “The Mentalist.”
Apparently, TNT execs decided viewers needed one more slightly unhinged consultant with uncanny abilities to solve crimes. But how is the paranoid schizophrenic character Eric McCormack plays in “Perception” set apart from the civilians paired with investigators in other police procedurals?
Pierce’s perceptive power is hallucinations.
There’s that, and Pierce is dull. Think “A Beautiful Mind” but without the moving love story or revealing look at mental illness.
McCormack is best known from the eight seasons of “Will & Grace,” but his previous small-screen characters haven’t been as enlightened. In the mid-1990s TV series “Lonesome Dove,” he played bad guy Clay Mosby, and he was the manipulative Ray Summers in Showtime’s “Dead Like Me” in 2004.
Co-starring with McCormack is Rachael Leigh Cook, who plays a former student of Pierce’s and a current FBI agent. Cook is a charming actress who was heart-shaped chocolate truffle delectable as Shawn Spencer’s old flame, Abigail Lytar, in “Psych.” In “Perception,” her Kate Moretti is sugar-free vanilla pudding bland. Jonathan Scarfe had a prime role as Joseph Smith in the three “The Work and the Glory” films, but the writing for his special agent Robert Probert character doesn’t give him much to work with.
In the premiere, airing July 9 at 8 p.m., in the 10-episode season series, Pierce and Moretti together solve a case involving the death of a pharmaceutical executive.
One is left to wonder if when the “Perception” pilot was green-lighted, there was a realization that a few interesting recurring roles would be needed to enliven the show. So, LeVar Burton (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”), Neal McDonough (“Justified”), Tom Sizemore (“Hawaii Five-O”), Edward Furlong (“CSI: NY”) and Freddie Rodriguez (“Ugly Betty) will be seen in later episodes.
And, hoping to add some of the quirky-cool of “Psych,” producers tapped two actors who, like Cook, made lasting impressions in the USA network’s hit series: Cary Elwes (the debonair art thief Pierre Despereaux) and Sheryl Lee (the "Dual Spires" episode of “Psych”).
Pause now to take a breath, and let’s conclude:
In “Perception,” there’s a paper-thin new take on the procedural police-drama format, and viewers will need to hope that new characters will stimulate their interest and the cases will be more engaging.
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