Pilot Perception: Perception

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our new feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Perception, TNT, Mondays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: Perception was created by Kenneth Biller (Voyager, Smallville, Legend of the Seeker) and Mike Sussman (Enterprise, Legend of the Seeker). Other writers include Amanda Green (Law & Order: SVU), Jason Ning (90210), and Stephen Tolkin (Brothers and Sisters, Legend of the Seeker). Directors include Greg Beeman (Smallville, Falling Skies), Christopher Misiano (The West Wing, ER), and Deran Sarafian (House).

The Cast & How You Know Them: The star of the show is Eric McCormack of Will & Grace. The other main characters are played by Rachael Leigh Cook (She’s All That, Broken Kingdom), Kelly Rowan (The O.C.), Arjay Smith (The Finder), and Jonathan Scarfe (Raising the Bar).

The Premise: Perception is a procedural revolving around Daniel Pierce, a brilliant neuroscience professor who is also a paranoid schizophrenic, and who sometimes consults with the FBI. It shows both the cases and how he struggles to maintain a normal life. One of the symptoms of his condition is a tendency to hallucinate, so both Daniel and the viewers are often unsure of whether other characters are really there or are just in his head.

A Taste:

What Works: McCormack is a charismatic leading man, and the whole supporting cast is solid. The premise of the FBI coming to Pierce with particularly difficult investigations is a good set-up for consistently interesting but at least vaguely plausible cases of the week. I tend to like campus settings. And it looks like they may be setting up a weird sort of love triangle in which one option is a real woman and the other is literally a personification of Pierce’s fears and insecurities, so I’m curious to see where they go with that.

What Doesn’t: How quirky is too quirky? There’s a line somewhere, and from the pilot it’s hard to tell whether this show crosses it. The fact that Pierce has an actual diagnosed condition rather than just being “eccentric” should help, but his behaviors – and having to wonder whether each new character we meet is real or not – could easily get repetitive. And while the neuroscience stuff seems interesting and the murder cases are fine, it’s not necessarily obvious how the two are going to connect on an ongoing basis.

Our Favorite Line: “If I carried a cell phone, the government could track me.” “I am the government.” “That’s my point exactly.”

You Might Like This if you like procedurals with smart-but-extremely-quirky main characters, like House, Monk, or Sherlock. It also has shades of Awake.

If You’re Interested: You can watch the pilot on TNT’s site for free. Then set your DVR for Mondays at 10/9c.

(Photo courtesy of TNT.)

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