Eric McCormack in PERCEPTION - Season 1 | ©2012 TNT

Eric McCormack in PERCEPTION - Season 1 | ©2012 TNT

Stars: Eric McCormack, Rachael Leigh Cook, Kelly Rowan, Arjay Smith
Writers: Ken Biller & Mike Sussman
Director: Alan Poul
Network: TNT, airs Monday nights
Original Telecast: July 9, 2012

What is real and what is a hallucination? That’s the trick the new TNT drama series PERCEPTION tries pulling on viewers.

Think of it as A BEAUTIFUL MIND meets HOUSE as the brilliant, yet mentally unstable neuroscience expert  Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack). He is asked by former student Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook) to assist involving a strange murder now that she’s working for the F.B.I.

As the episode twists and turns, we soon discover some of the people surrounding Pierce aren’t real, some of the people assisting him in solving the puzzle of the murder are not real and that everything Pierce experiences is on some higher level. He is a paranoid schizophrenic, of course.

The problem with PERCEPTION though is that it’s trying so hard to be clever, many of the incidents in the episode come off a bit hokey and silly at times. When we see who the murderer is, the scene plays like some SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE parody of a murder sequence from a typical crime drama show, not the serious moment it’s supposed to be.

The gimmick of who is real and who isn’t is also a bit frustrating as is all the additional people (real and figments of imagination) to solve the murder. This kind of concept almost needs a little more of a slow burn to make it more manageable and less goodball. If the audience is always going to be guessing what’s what, then it takes away some of the joy of enjoying the case of the week aspect of the show too.

That said, as much as I did not like this pilot at all, there seems to be many positives here too. The premise, if finessed some more could actually work. McCormack is great in the role and is the grounding center to the rediculousness that surrounds him. He carries the show, and manages to keep a very even tone throughout. The bond his character shares with Moretti is interesting, though it’s not refined enough to really see what direction that will take as the series progresses.

I did like his teaching assistant Max Lewicki (Arjay Smith) who helps Pierce determine the real people in his life from the fakes. That’s one of the more refreshing elements of the series.

Having a paranoid schizophrenic teach at a prestigious school is a bit odd too – and a leap of faith, but I’ll go with that one, fo rnow.

PERCEPTION still isn’t all there and it will need time to grow and hopefully find itself. This not being network TV, TNT will likely be patient as it does just that (heck, it took a full uneven season of FALLING SKIES to really hit it out of the park with Season 2). There is a good show in here, unfortunately, I wish I could have hallucinated someone else to watch the first episode for me instead (because maybe they would have liked it a whole lot more).

Related: Exclusive Interview with PERCEPTION star Eric McCormack


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Article: TV Review – PERCEPTION – Season 1 – “Pilot” – Series Premiere

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  1. I enjoyed the show. It took a little getting used to. It has great promise. Keep it on.

  2. Great start, but Rachel Leigh Cook is totally miscast…too weak to play the character she’s portraying. That could sink an otherwise fabulous new show.

  3. I liked the episode a lot. I watch many police procedural dramas and I like ones with a new twist. Eric McCormack is obviously not Will Truman any more. What a great portrayal of the insane yet brilliant professor! As far as the hallucinations of the “ghost characters” in that respect it reminds me more of the show “Awake”. There too was a person – a detective – who was aided in solving crimes by going back and forth to different realities, with some of the same or different personages. The end of “Awake” was a disappointment because there was no definitive reality that I could discern. I like being kept on my toes by “real” and “ghost” personages. The whole concept gives this show a refreshingly different twist on the police procedural. Of course the plots now are being crafted to kick off the show and develop the characters and get us used to a new type of craziness. Later on, the plots will probably be more intensive and complex which will keep me interested as well as get new respect for Daniel Pierce.

    jane white
  4. was better than a C- to me, all u critics put too much emphasis on all the things that viewers dont even care about & i think u just play up to the tv execs for under the table payment, if the show run a full season? i’d watch it

  5. I don’t watch dramas – but I will watch this because there is some levity, and I enjoy seeing McCormack in this new role.

  6. I liked the premise of the show. It is deep and out of the box. What I found as a big turnoff was the political jab to G.W. Bush. It was unnecessary and gives the perception that the show is a platform for political views. Keep the politics out of it and you’ll have a great show.

    • I agree with you that it was completely unnecessary to put in that jab against G.W. Bush. Up to then I was completely enjoying the show. I might give it another chance but if this is to be a political forum then I won’t.

  7. The show had a good concept but when I saw the scene where they showed the former president and said he was lying just totally turned me off. I’m not politically active but it’s getting old to keep seeing the bias of hollywood.

  8. At the end they showed President Clinton and the “lie detector” laughed at him too so it was a balanced critique although may have been better if politics was left out of it completely.

  9. please..!! people….wake up..this, by far, is ONE OF THE BEST SERIES ..EVER

  10. wake up of the BEST serie ever!!

  11. Couldn’t get passed the gratuitous liberal jabs – really can’t your story make it on its own??

  12. Brilliant show, I am hooked already!

  13. LOVED the show! Just saw it for the first time today. I think it just became my new favorite show, sorry NCIS…. still love you, but you don’t have any new shows.


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