We are very selective what kind of cop shows we watch, they have to have something different about them, something that sets them apart from the usual procedural drama. In fact, I’ve found that the majority of interesting differences aren’t so much the cops, but outside elements, specifically consultants, that bring a whole new twist to the genre. Shows like Castle and Mentalist and Lie to Me and Numb3rs and Psych, none of the interesting bits has anything to do with the police and everything to do with the oddball every man that comes along to help.
Perception is another show to add to that distinguished list. It’s been quite a while since I tried out a new cop show, the majority do tend to disappoint, but when I read the description of this TNT offering, I had to check it out and I’m so glad I did.
Perception is the story of Dr. Daniel Pierce, a professor of neurobiology who also suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. He teeters on the edge of sanity, racked with hallucinations and paranoid delusions that sometimes allow him to make sense of difficult puzzles and solve crimes. He’s a genius, no doubt about it, but he’s also a very damaged individual who finds it hard to make real intimate human connections. Daniel is a very sympathetic character, he understands that he has a problem, he wishes he could do something to solve it, but knows that he can only take care of the symptoms as best he can. In fact, it is his insanity that makes him such an interesting and useful character.
The show is smart and scientifically based, you’re bound to pick up a lot of information about neuroscience and brain function. In that, it’s very close to Numb3rs, a show about a mathematician where there was a ton of math talk in every episode.
In some ways, it reminds me of Raines, an unfortunately very short-lived attempt by Jeff Goldblum. In both, the main character suffered from delusions, images of useful figures or crime victims who served as a sounding board against which ideas could be bounced. I just think that Perception does a better job of it.
The show isn’t afraid to take on controversial subjects either. In episode 5, we find that Daniel is an open and avowed atheist and his FBI partner is a Catholic. They investigate a Christian cult, led by a boy who claims he can talk to God. Daniel identifies specific markers that indicate brain damage, which all of the religious people ignore, right up until it almost kills him. Go atheism!
Of the new shows I’ve seen this year, this one has my two-thumbs up and if I had more thumbs, it would get them too. It’s only 5 episodes in, go see them all, you won’t regret it.