Archives for posts with tag: psychology

It always amazes me how many different legal dramas and police procedurals America can produce. Here in the UK we either have ‘cosy crime’, ‘troubled DI/DCI solves crime of the week’ or ‘small community shocked to the core’. And we barely set foot in a courtroom.

But in America you are spoilt for choice. Navy cops, forensic teams, courtroom dramas, amateur detectives, you name it, America does it. You want a social commentary? They do that. Or do you just want to see cool explosions and high-stake car chases? They do that too.

Now we have Bull, set in the world jury psychology. Dr Bull runs a team specialising in manipulating juries into reaching decisions he clients want, all while lawyers are sceptical of his ability. It helps that, so far of the episodes I’ve seen, that he is on the good guys side, so any mind-bending is well deserved. Forcing people to recognise their gender bias or asking idiosyncratic questions are just some of his techniques.

He has a team supporting him – the computer hacker, the gay-yet-tough stylist, the smart-mouthed ex-lawyer and others. So far we only have a bit of their backgrounds dribbling out. No doubt there are some big emotional stories to be played out over the episodes, but I do hope these remain I side show.

I say that because the enjoyment of this show, for me at least, is the pseudo-science talks. I say pseudo-science, this could all be real science, but I don’t know. Anyway, it fascinates me how breaking down some biographical details of the jurors and building a profile of them is so influential. It is both brilliant and creepy how predictable we are if someone can just get a few bits of information on us.

It does sit slightly oddly between two stools though. The extra-ordinary nature of the cases means that it could easily fall into bubble-gum territory. Yet they do seem to have a social conscience about them that means that there is more to the plots than simply defending the innocent. I’m not saying it’s as deep as The Good Wife, but thinking it is just a bit of fluff is unfair.

Overall, I would say this is a solid show and a pleasing enough way to pass an hour. I find myself liking it more and more and having my cynicism eroded. And that is by no means a bad thing.

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.