Summer 2012 Review: Perception

14 Aug

  Perception is TNT’s new dramatic entry in its ongoing identity crisis to figure out what the hell the network is.  You’ve got ambitious action sci-fi shows like Falling Skies, gritty cop dramas like Southland, primetime soaps, like Dallas, and USA-like character based procedurals like The Closer and now Perception. Perception stars Will and Grace’s Will, Eric McCormack as a neuroscience professor known as the leader is his field and a forensic neuroscience expert who is eccentric, brilliant, and clinically crazy, in that he sees people who aren’t there who talk to him, giving him clues that his conscious mind apparently cannot. He fits the USA main character rubric to a T – he’s absolutely brilliant but has a major personal flaw he must struggle with (for Neal in White Collar, it’s the whole criminal thing, for Monk, OCD, etc.).  He’s approached, in the first episode, by former student, and previous colleague Kate Moretti (played by Rachel Leigh Cook, who seemingly disappeared from acting after She’s All That and Josie and the Pussycats, but reappeared on TV with a reoccurring role in Psych).  Moretti now works for the FBI.  It seems Daniel has helped out Kate before, but left when Kate moved to Virginia, but now that Kate’s back, he’s in again.  She recruits him to help solve the case of a murdered pharmaceutical executive, and he does, in stops and starts, with a little help from his imaginary friends who aren’t really there.  He does this with the help of his student helper, Lewicki, who helps organize his life and tell him if people are really there or not in exchange for free board, and his confidant and advisor Natalie, who we learn at the end of the episode IS ALSO IN HIS HEAD.

This promises to be our week to week format.  Dan uses his brain skills to solve the case, along with help from Kate’s on the ground common sense police work, and learns a little bit about fixing himself, with any luck, along the way.  Maybe there will be some slow character growth or the possibility of a love interest or a new friend, but maybe not.   The entertainment value is simply in how entertaining the cases Daniel must solve are for the viewer.  We’ve seen this show a thousand times.  That doesn’t make it bad, but it makes it very difficult to stand out.

Oh, and LeVarr Burton plays the dean of his school in which I’d hope is a recurring role.   Also, it’s eerily similar to the short-lived Jeff Goldblum NBC show Raines, where Goldblum played a detective who talked to apparitions of crime victims which gave him information about their killers, and then went away when the crime was solved.  Luckily for Perception, the existence of Raines has been all but forgotten.

Will I watch it again?  Week to week, no.  I have enough USA shows in my life that I’m committed to.  On a Saturday afternoon while having coffee and lying on the couch?  Wouldn’t rule it out, if Monk and Pscyh and Law & Order and Law & Order: SVU aren’t on.

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