American crime procedurals import quite well over to the UK. This partly because American cop shows are more comfortable occupying that mid-point between knockabout, self-referential humour and action-thriller dynamics. Here in the UK, crime is either Midsomer Murders (faintly gothic, very ludicrous and oddly cosy despite the body count) or Luther (urban psychopaths, cops as deranged as the criminals they chase). Across the pond, there’s CastleRizzoli and Isles, The Glades, Republic of Doyle… I could go on. The point is they are all cut from a similar cloth – dark-humoured banter, OTT crime scenes, occasional episodes where the sense of menace goes up a notch.

As much as I love these shows, especially Castle, I do wish sometimes it would be a bit more than ‘honest cop and buddies chase down villain of the week’. Which is where Perception comes in. The premise: neuropsychologist Daniel Pierce helps FBI catch criminals, who often have some form of mental disorder, or have left a victim in some psychologically damaged state. The twist: Pierce himself is a paranoid schizophrenic who has delusions that help solve the cases whilst damaging his personal life. Yes, it is all very OTT, but the individual episodes are, to me at least, surprisingly nuanced.

Take the mental disorders actually explored in this show. For a start, they are actually explained to the viewers, crediting them with some intelligence to understand such concepts. Moreover, as the opening and close of each episode demonstrates, many of these disorders are normal processes that turn down a different alleyway, taking the individual with them. Ok, so it is all armchair psychology at times, but at least it isn’t all ‘THIS IS THE BAD GUY! HE’S CRAZY! LET’S ALL BE SELF-RIGHTOUS GOOD GUYS!’.

I think Eric McCormack is great in his role as Pierce, playing the character with enough vulnerability and flawed brilliance to stop him coming across as smug. I feel a little sorry for Rachael Leigh Cook though – Moretti, the FBI agent, could be replaced by a new character next week and I wonder how much of an impact it would make. Maybe that will change as the second season progresses (we have only had the first two episodes of it over here in the UK).

Anyway, it’s nice to have a new face in the crime drama stable. Whilst a lot aren’t afraid to flash brawn and morality, it is refreshing to have one that is willing to show us it’s all about the brain. Especially the ones that aren’t working correctly.

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