Pierce, whose students, notably the doe-eyed coeds, dote on him, is a certifiable genius. He uses his Sherlock Holmes-sized mind to sniff out people's psychological ailments, their quirks, and their patterns of thought with apparent ease. He's also a wiz at puzzles, breaking codes and discerning patterns in apparently random events.
And like Holmes, the quintessential half-mad crime fighter, Pierce isn't just a little off-center, he's dangerously out-of-balance, having decided to go off his meds.
He has long conversations with imaginary people in imaginary settings and sometimes he is beset by villains, madmen, and murderers who don't exist. This conceit serves the show well — since we see the story through Pierce's eyes, the audience is never entirely sure what's real.
In a nifty, if corny move, Pierce's hallucinations begin collaborating with him to solve his murder cases. They guide him to the killer by forcing him to explore possibilities, ideas, and situations his conscious mind would never entertain.
Pierce's mental flights of fancy are checked by Kate, his teaching assistant Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith), his university boss, Dean Paul Haley (LeVar Burton), and his best friend and sometime confessor, Natalie Vincent. Played with conviction by Kelly Rowan, Natalie is a strange, mysterious character — watch her talks with Pierce closely.
McCormack is terrific in Perception, which pushes him far beyond his sitcom to play a character who is not entirely likable: Like many schizophrenics (and like Holmes), Pierce sees murder as a mental puzzle. He seems to lack the empathy and compassion it takes to see it as a human tragedy.
His show, on the other hand, isn't so terrific. While it has a lot of promise, Perception relies on flimsy plot lines and fails to take advantage of its unique premise. Here's a show about a guy who hallucinates entire scenarios! Why tell his story in such a visually flat, conventional way?
Contact Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or email@example.com