‘Perception’: Another genius-with-an-edge show
- Last Updated: 11:03 AM, July 5, 2012
- Posted: 10:58 PM, July 4, 2012
Monday night at 10 on TNT
It’s all in the “Perception” — and that’s the major “seen-it-all-before” hurdle TNT’s new series, starring Eric McCormack, needs to overcome if it’s going to succeed.
Both the show, and McCormack, are fine, but I’m not sure there’s enough here to keep viewers coming back for more, especially after a string of similar “quirky-genius” cop shows spawned by “Monk” (Tony Shalhoub as an obsessive-compulsive detective) and including its thematic offspring “Numb3rs” and “Criminal Minds,” to name two.
The genre is getting a bit moldy around the edges — and “Perception” doesn’t add much to the tired mix.
McCormack (“Will & Grace”) stars as brilliant-yet-schizophrenic college professor Dr. Daniel Pierce, who teaches neuroscience at a Chicago university — and, in his spare time, uses his condition to help former student and FBI agent Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook) solve crimes.
Pierce’s condition manifests itself in hallucinations and an obsession with anagrams, detail and order — he needs his newspaper crossword puzzles to be folded just so, his food sliced to exact specs. He employs a teaching assistant, Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith), to be his full-time minder and to help keep Pierce focused.
But it’s his tics that, coupled with his groundbreaking work in neuropsychology, give Pierce a unique ability to crack extremely tough criminal cases working in tandem with Moretti and local cops.
(In Monday’s series opener, his hallucination of a lab worker who doesn’t exist — and with whom Pierce converses — helps him solve a murder perpetrated by an unlikely culprit.)
The series, created by “Star Trek” vets Ken Biller (“Star Trek: Voyager”) and Mike Sussman (“Star Trek: Enterprise”) lays on the quirkiness a bit too thickly (Pierce, natch, is an unshaven, rumpled mess who’s given to “conducting” unseen orchestras in public places).
Both McCormack and Cook are likable enough, and have an engaging on-screen chemistry. And yet another “Star Trek” vet, LeVar Burton (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”), is on hand as Paul Haley, Pierce’s understanding dean who puts up with his friend’s foibles because of Pierce’s sheer brilliance (and his value to the university).
As crime-solvers go, Pierce is a rare gem — but not enough to provide “Perception” with enough luster to stand out from the crowd.