Tuned In: 'Perception' A crime solver with a problem: He's no fun
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Stop me if you've heard this plot for a cable series before: An offbeat character with mental issues helps law enforcement solve crimes using his knowledge and the unusual abilities his mental illness affords him. You'd have to be a "Monk" without a TV to not recognize this premise.
But at least "Monk" had a problem -- OCD -- that lent itself to some humorous scenarios. The troubles faced by Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack, "Will & Grace") in TNT's "Perception" (10 p.m. Monday) offer fewer opportunities for ha-ha moments.
Not that "Perception" is a dark, broody show. It's not. But neither is it as light and blue sky-oriented as the popular USA network crime-solving shows.
At first glance, Pierce looks like he's dressed up as Sherlock Holmes -- the Benedict Cumberbatch version from PBS's "Masterpiece" -- with his wool coat and scarf. Like that Sherlock, this crime solver loves puzzles and even visualizes anagrams in a way that's reminiscent of PBS's current Sherlock. But Pierce seems to have a lot less fun doing it.
In the premiere episode, viewers see Pierce teaching a college course in neuroscience and watch as he has a paranoid reaction to a co-ed's invitation for coffee. Or is his paranoia warranted?
Pierce has a teaching assistant, Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith), who helps him navigate reality. Because it turns out Pierce's mental issue is that he's schizophrenic and suffers from hallucinations, which often aid in his ability to put together the puzzle of solving a crime.
Because the story is told from Pierce's point of view, viewers don't always know if the people he's seeing are real or a hallucination. A show written with more intelligence and deft storytelling might be able to pull the wool over viewers' eyes but "Perception" is not up to the task. It's fairly predictable which characters will turn out to be hallucinations.
Pierce, who also rejects technology (he demands Lewicki supply him with cassettes for his Walkman and won't switch to an iPod), teams with FBI agent Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook), one of his former students, to solve crimes. Turns out she has her own issues: She was demoted for "a tendency to go beyond the scope" of what her investigations called for. A future episode reveals some unexpected personal background about Moretti, too.
The "Perception" pilot, written by executive producer Ken Biller ("Star Trek: Voyager") and co-executive producer Mike Sussman ("Star Trek: Enterprise"), is a ho-hum affair. The show is not so much awful as it is a colorless copy of better shows that have come before. It doesn't take a keen sense of perception to see that.
First Published July 8, 2012 12:00 am