I would like to start by expressing my sincere gratitude to TNT and Turner Broadcasting as they were kind enough to provide us with a preview copy of the first four episodes of this new series. While I’m only halfway through the episodes I’m completely hooked. The premise shares a lot with several shows before it, but it does a great job of being different enough to stand apart from the rest.
Perception, a new series from TNT, is about a brilliant and eccentric professor of neuroscience, Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack), who works with the FBI to solve difficult cases. These cases usually involve someone with a psychological condition of one form or another. This is where Pierce’s expertise is helpful as his knowledge of the human mind is unparalleled. He also happens to be a paranoid schizophrenic and experiences frequent hallucinations.
Pierce knows that if he keeps his mind occupied he can control his condition. To that end he has employed the services of his teaching assistant, Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith), to keep him busy, focused and grounded in reality as much as possible. Lewicki handles just about everything in the good doctor’s life, but one of his most important duties is “hallucination detector.” Pierce is aware that he can’t tell hallucination from reality so he relies on his assistant to alert him to these episodes.
On the surface, it might seem that hallucinations would be a bad thing, but for Dr. Pierce it’s an essential way for him to work through puzzles and clues on a case. He often has conversations with people who aren’t really there and in the end those imaginary acquaintances help him figure out the mysteries he’s tasked with solving. The insight these conversations bring often seem to be beyond the abilities of Pierce’s subconscious, pushing into almost psychic abilities at times.
FBI Agent Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook) is a former student of Dr. Pierce’s who convinces him to consult with her on these cases. While Moretti was a top student, her impulsive behavior and dogged determination while working cases for the FBI has caused her to be demoted. She turns to the equally impulsive and unorthodox Pierce for help in solving crimes involving unusual neurological or psychological components.
Pierce often discusses cases with his best friend, Natalie Vincent (Kelly Rowan). They met in grad school and dated briefly, but have remained close friends over the years. His relationship with Natalie is probably the most normal thing in Pierce’s life, but “normal” is different for everybody and in the case of Dr. Daniel Pierce, it’s very different.
Besides teasing that Dr. Pierce may have extra-normal abilities, Perception has another sci-fi connection that we will see occasionally. LeVar Burton plays Paul Haley, a dean at the university who is Pierce’s friend. Burton has been cast in a recurring role so he may not be in every episode, but he will be around every now and then.
Considering the premise of this show, inevitable comparisons to USA’s Monk are sure to be levied. A brilliant, but psychologically-challenged man who helps solve crimes and requires a full-time assistant for his daily needs does sound the same. Superficially they share a basic premise, but Perception is not as light as Monk. The cases are far more complex, the tone is much more serious, and the characters are given more depth.
The fun of this show is in wondering if our protagonist is just utilizing his mind differently or if he really might have abilities beyond that which is considered possible. The way he pieces together the information given him certainly makes the viewer lean toward the latter, but the human mind is so unbelievably creative it’s really impossible to tell.
Perception is a new TNT drama centered around Professor of Neuroscience, Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack), who works with former student FBI Agent Kate Moretti (Rachel Lee Cook) to solve complex criminal cases. Perception also stars Arjay Smith and Kelly Rowan, with special appearances by Levar Burton.