Judge Alice Nelson perceives that she needs more sleep.
Another police procedural with an eccentric consultant? I am so there dude!
Perception is yet another entry into the very crowded field of the television police procedural. A mix of Monk with the intellect of Numb3rs (minus the condescending math whiz), this TNT series features two very likeable leads in Eric McCormack (Will and Grace) as Professor Daniel Pierce and Rachel Leigh Cook (Josie and the Pussycats) as gritty FBI agent Kate Moretti. A schizophrenic professor aiding a not so by the books FBI agent may not seem like a good fit, but the premise works much better than you might think.
Facts of the Case
Dr. Daniel Pierce (McCormack) is a schizophrenic neuroscience professor fresh off a stint in a psychiatric hospital. His breakdown forced him to give up his police consulting job as well as take a yearlong sabbatical from teaching. Refusing to take the medication that leaves him hazy and unfocused, Daniel hires a live-in assistant, Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith The Day After Tomorrow), to help him stay on track. When former student Kate Moretti (Cook), now an FBI agent, uses Daniel as a consultant on a few cases, the work exhilarates him but it also puts undue strain on his already fragile mental state.
You have to like the bones of these types of shows, in order to accept yet another police drama that uses a smartass civilian consultant. In its essence, Perception is a typical good guy/bad guy crime series, but it takes what can often times be a crippling mental illness and instead of being debilitating, helps Daniel solve cases. Talk about not letting your weaknesses stop you.
Nearly every one of the ten episodes on this DVD opens with Professor Pierce in the midst of a thought provoking lecture that sets up the week's storyline; in turn it ends with another lecture summing up the show's theme. Sounds trite, but it works because of McCormack's solid performance. He is absolutely believable as the incredibly flawed Daniel, and that performance compels you to empathize with his condition and root for his recovery.
Rachel Leigh Cook is very good as FBI agent Moretti. She's tough, but not in a "I'm as good as any man" kind of way. She's not trying to prove her worth in some feminist dystopia, she just wants justice served and is willing to do what it takes to achieve it—even if that means bending the rules to get her guy.
Of course, there is the inevitable sexual tension between Daniel and Kate, which goes back to her days as one of his fawning students. He also has feelings for her, and even though there is a 16 year age gap between McCormack and Cook, the attraction is sweet and not the creepy, leering, old man kind that it could be. There is an innocence about Daniel that makes his feelings for her appear genuine instead of lecherous.
Then there's my man Arjay Smith—Lewicki, as Daniel always calls him—the glue that holds his boss' fragile mental state intact. Smith's performance is strong yet understated, a smart move because trying to match the intensity of McCormack's performance would give the whole relationship a comical, almost farcical feel. Max is an important character, and an invaluable part of the professor's life, even if Daniel is unable—or unwilling—to admit that himself.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is crisp and clear and the Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound audio is spot on. The storylines are better than average, but it's the relationships being formed between the characters that grab you and pull you in. Surprisingly the DVD has no special features, just a few previews of things to come, which I found to be a bit of a bummer.
Perception is not a unique idea—I mean, not much in Hollywood is—but it has the right characters, good chemistry, fine acting and scripts that are engaging. This series has all the elements to keep audiences coming back for more.
What's my perception of this series? Not Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ABC Studios
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