‘Perception’ Pilot Recap: “Rationality is Overrated”

The TNT network debuted another new summer series this week. It’s about a super-smart consultant who helps law enforcement solve murders. Sounds amazingly original, right? But wait, this guy’s totally a character, who has all sorts of adorably quirky habits and compulsions, and may even be kind of crazy. No, it’s not another season of ‘Monk’. I said this was a “new” show, though admittedly we’re stretching some of the connotations of that word. It’s called ‘Perception’ and it’s… yeah, it’s exactly what you think it is.

Eric McCormack from ‘Will and Grace’ stars as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a brilliant neuroscience professor at an as-yet-unspecified university. His boss is LeVar Burton, so I imagine that they do a lot of reading there. Pierce’s special talent is that he’s… I don’t know… really smart, or something. I suppose he’s clever at figuring out the way people think. He’s also (get this!) a full-on schizophrenic who refuses to take his meds because they cloud his mind. This little problem manifests itself in charmingly eccentric behavior like wearing nerdy glasses with a wool coat and scarf, saying inappropriate things to his students, routinely rocking out to Classical music from cassette tapes in his ancient Walkman, and eventually having conversations with people who aren’t really there. Whenever there’s a lull in his quirkiness, the episode throws in this gimmick where he can see letters and words fly through the air and arrange themselves in different patterns in front of him.

He’s quirky, I tells ya!

Pierce is recruited by his cute-as-a-button former student (and possibly girlfriend?) Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook – she used to be all that), who’s now with the FBI. She needs his help with an investigation that vaguely involves a terror threat. That’s the excuse for getting the FBI involved in what should be a local police matter, anyway. The case in the ‘Pilot’ episode is absurdly convoluted. It has something to do with the murder of a lawyer who’d been having an affair with an employee at a Big Pharma company who was actually conspiring with him to kill his wife, until one of her co-workers mistakenly thought that the woman was a whistleblower about to reveal the fact that the company had been falsifying drug trial results because their new pill causes heart attacks, and so the co-worker killed the lawyer to stop that from happening, but the lawyer’s wife, who’d he’d been dosing with the drug, gets all confused and thinks that she did it even though she’s innocent.

Whew! Whatever. It’s not important. The gist of it is that the victim was actually a bad guy who was planning to kill his wife until he accidentally got killed instead. I have a feeling we’re supposed to think that’s really innovative plotting, but it’s just needlessly complex for the sake of being needlessly complex.

As you’ve probably figured out, I didn’t think much of the show. It’s very generic and formulaic, and all of the lead character’s traits are blatantly calculated for maximum lovable quirkiness.

This is a one-and-done show for me. It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but I feel no need to watch it again.


  1. Jason

    So essentially it’s Rachael Leigh Cook reprising her role from Psych but now she’s an FBI agent instead of being the girlfriend of the quirky, perceptive “detective” she’s the boss of him?


  2. Two things: 1) How did I not know that Rachael Leigh Cook had resurfaced in something? 2) How does she look like she hasn’t aged a day since her ‘She’s All That’ phase? Yowza!

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