Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'm Just Here To Help: Perception

People love their damaged detectives. Whether it be Sherlock Holmes and his Asperger Syndrome, Monk and his OCD or Detective Goren’s mental fragility on Criminal Intent, these detectives have engaged audiences with their quirk, charm and singular ability to solve crimes with the aid of their issues rather than despite them.  TNT is hopping on that train with the new Eric McCormack vehicle, Perception.

McCormack plays Dr. Daniel Pierce, a brilliant neuroscientist and college professor who is also a Paranoid Schizophrenic. That, of course, makes him the perfect person for FBI agent Kate Moretti (played by Rachel Leigh Cook) to call in and help solve crimes.  Right? What’s the best way to put together a solid case? Make sure the crime is solved by someone who isn’t quite sure what is real and what isn’t.

One of the main characters in the first episode is Natalie (played well by Kelly Rowan) and she appears as someone who knows Pierce well. She’s a point of stability in his life, calming him when he gets a bit too frenzied…except that we soon learn that she too is a figment.

While Pierce reads suspects well, he is also prone to seeing people who aren’t there, like Natalie and also witnesses who often provide him with answers. Pierce suffers from periods of paranoia which are only calmed when he listened to classical music on a 1986 era Sony walkman… on cassette.  Honestly I’m not really sure what the use of a cassette says about the character. ? Get the poor guy an Ipod for crying out loud.

Honestly, the show is a bit of a mess. I wish the writing was a little stronger and the structure a little different. I really like watching Eric McCormack. He’s always engaging and does a decent job with Pierce, but I can’t help but wishing he was a little less put together. Rachel Leigh Cook, who still looks 18 and cute as heck, does an ok job as an FBI agent, but I wish their relationship was a bit more contentious.

Here’s my fix:
Pierce can keep his job, but he’s much less stable than portrayed in the actual show.  The only person who can keep him on task is his teaching assistant (who appears on the actual show only to confirm is someone Pierce is talking to is real or not).   He is brought into the show because one of the people he profiled in his book on forensic neuro-psychiatry (which he wrote four of according to the show) is suspected of doing illegal things and Cook’s Moretti is forced to work with him to solve the case. Of course she has a hard enough time being taken seriously because of the way she looks and the fact that she’s a woman that she really doesn’t want to be saddled with the crazy man, but despite her protestations that he is crazy, Pierce is hired as a consultant. And there you go. A little Sherlock with Watson keeping him in line, a little Castle as Pierce reluctantly charms Moretti as he teeters between stability and nuts.
This, isn’t the show we’ve got. Not yet anyway. I will give it a chance because I like McCormack, but we’ll see how TNT develops things. 
Perception: Mondays on TNT

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