The idea of a cop/agent/detective bouncing their investigative skills off some unusually skilled, genius, specialist “consultant” with troubled past, impaired social skills, substance abuse or highly awkward persona in order to wrap up any crime investigation under 40 minutes flat is nothing new in the world of prime time television. One would imagine that after decades of Monks, Bones, Lightmans, Houses, Psychs, Castles, Numb3rs and other Mentalists helping to save lives or put bad people behind bars on our screens on weekly basis, the pool of diplomaed specialists and fringe science doctorate holders overlooked by crime story tv scribes could be counted on one hand. But while by now most of the series and characters mentioned above either byte the dust or struggle to keep viewers awake, TNT decided it’s better late than never and last night decided to roll out their own investigator plus eccentric sidekick extraordinaire summer series – “Perception”.
The series focus on a recently demoted FBI Special Agent Kate Moretti portrayed by Canadian teen romcom actress of yesteryear Rachael Leigh Cook (“She’s All That”, “Josie and the Pussycats”), returning to enlist help of her ex. teacher, a neuroscientist, university professor and avid crossword enthusiast Dr. Daniel Pierce, played by a fellow Canadian Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace”). Within minutes we discover Dr. Pierce is a brilliant scholar, author of countless volumes of acclaimed reading material in his field, with cognitive skills of a compulsive apopheniac and large enough portfolio of real life cases ready and waiting in nearby neurological ward to just pull them out of his sleeve for illustrative purposes on per case basis. In the same time, Dr. Pierce suffers from just about every overused TV disorder and social impairment on this side of dendrophobia with addition of on demand scheduled schizophrenic episodes with symptoms foreseeable enough to be rejected even by M.Knight Shyamalan. During those episodes, conveniently mostly occurring out of sight, he enlists help of his teaching assistant Max Lewicki, played by a newcomer Arjay Smith, to serve as a constant and anchor with the real world.
Despite its predictable character and cliche setup (Nutty professor wouldn’t be nutty without cardigan, carefully styled messy hair and unshaven face executed with George Michael precision), “Perception” is actually not as bad as one would imagine after reading my words above. McCormack is competent enough in his portrayal of nouveau “Beautiful Mind”-esque scientist, Leigh Cook makes for good and animated “enforcer” companion in his adventures and quirks galore leaves enough space to throw enough “words of the day” (word of the episode is “aphasia“) and mildly interesting oddities to drift through the summer. In the world full of procedural dramas with consultants “Perception” is not as dry and in your face as “Lie To Me” used to be, it’s not as slapstick and lighthearted as “Monk”, but it is probably clever enough to get you between “The Mentalist” seasons for the next couple of summers, if that’s your forte. In the same time the show is more of a “record for later” than “set reminder to watch it” calibre and it’s wisely placed in summer slot where it won’t suffer from rapid “consultant series” fatigue.