Monday, 6 August 2012

TV Review: Perception Season 1 Episode 1 "Pilot"

There are a slew of TV shows being produced right now, but the thing is times have never been tougher for the television industry. In order to have a hope of surviving into another season each show must pull enough ratings to prevent its cancellation by the network, needless to say there is a lot of pressure on brand new shows just starting out. ‘Perception’ tells an interesting story with some likable cast members so time will tell if it is given the time to tell its story or if it is to be cancelled prematurely.

The FBI enlists Dr. Daniel Pierce, a brilliant neuroscientist and university professor in order to assist in a case that speaks to his expertise, human behaviours and condtions. Reuniting with a former student of his who now works for the FBI Daniel must help the department to solve a murder whilst trying to keep a handle on his own pestilent illness, schizophrenia.

The case in the episode is not particularly interested but it does features some twists which provide it with some intrigue in addition to that gained from watching Daniel’s unique talents be put to use in solving it. The beginning of the episode is strong particularly during its introduction of Daniel and other characters to the audience, the plot does a lag somewhat towards the later half of the episode before it finds some steam again before its conclusion where it does what it is best at, examining Daniel and his illness. There are better police procedural dramas available but what ‘Perception’ does right is adding some novel elements into the mix of this old formula, and thankfully Daniel is an interesting enough character that the case of the episode can be enriched in quality thanks to what his presence adds to the dynamic of the show.

Daniel is reunited with his former student, Kate.

‘Perception’ handles Daniel’s schizophrenia often clumsily as it falls into clichés such as the depiction of Daniel with some behaviours akin to ‘Rain Man’, for example in a few scenes he starts to conduct the orchestral music he is listening to on his tape player including doing so whilst in on top of a table in a crowded room. This is a cheap way to display the character’s psychosis as it demeans it to a solely visual indication of his “eccentricities” to the audience; nevertheless Eric McCormack manages to come across as a genuinely troubled individual struggling with his difficult condition.

This show is essentially composed from a combination of elements from a few different shows. From ‘Sherlock’ it derives the demonstration of Daniel’s intelligence through some of his deductions and visual graphics displayed for his puzzle solving. ‘Perception’ takes its lead character’s knowledge of human behavior and cerebral conditions from the show ‘Lie to Me’ whilst the rest plays out like a typical cop show such as ‘CSI’ or ‘Law and Order’. The true originality of ‘Perception’ is evident during the moments depicting Daniel’s hallucinations, these scenes help provide the show with its own unique voice just as it becomes swarmed with the traits belonging to other pieces of television.

Daniel interviews a suspect as the FBI look on.

‘Perception’ has quite a promising cast, Eric McCormack is great in the lead role of Dr. Daniel Pierce, he plays Daniel as man of simultaneous great intellect and of deep vulnerability due to his schizophrenia. Max Lewicki is ably played by Arjay Smith, Smith brings some vital humanity to the character who essentially acts as Daniel’s carer as well as his friend. Levar Burton is a very pleasing addition to the cast in the supporting role of Paul Haley, the Dean of the university where Daniel is a professor. Burton is not given much time on screen during this episode but his brief appearance is a treat and generates enough interest in his relationship with Daniel for the audience to look forward to future appearances. Rachael Leigh cook is quite bland and unmemorable in the now infuriatingly common role of a female detective, her character being a former student of Daniel’s makes sense from a story standpoint as it gives him investment in assisting the police aside from simply good citizenry, however the connection seems too clichéd of a set-up, at least from this series opener.

Judging from this pilot episode ‘Perception’ seems to be a show with some interesting ideas that offers a novel take on the crime solving non-detective genre. It sometimes drops the ball and gives in to clichés and boring dialogue but that can be excused when a series possesses a focus like this show. ‘Perception’ is certainly not perfect but it can definitely improve, and for that reason I’ll keep on watching.

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