6 Things That Make TNT’s Perception Great

Dr. Daniel Pierce, Kate Moretti, Lewicki, Dean Haley - Perception

Perception is a new series on TNT which premiered along with the final episodes of The Closer. The premise is that the main character, Dr. Daniel Pierce, is a brilliant neuroscientist and professor at a major University in Chicago. The twist is that he is also schizophrenic, and prone to hallucinations. He is called on by the FBI, specifically a former student of his who is now an FBI agent, to help with difficult cases due to his extraordinary abilities.

The first season finale is this week, and as we await the second season – yes, it has been renewed for a second season! – I started thinking about the things that I enjoy most about the program.

The Mystery

Cary Elwes and Eric McCormack - Perception

No, not that one! As I mentioned previously, Pierce is schizophrenic, and hallucinates. Each week, besides his best friend Natalie who just happens to be a hallucination, he also has another hallucination who helps him either with the case or in some other aspect of his life. The fun is that most of the time you do not know who the hallucination is, and trying to figure it out before it is revealed is a fun twist on solving a murder mystery!

These hallucinations, both Natalie and the weekly mystery one, help him to access his unconscious mind, which assists him in understanding the patterns or other clues surrounding the murder of the week. Other times, the hallucination relates to his own personal issues with his illness and serves to reveal details about Dr. Pierce.

Two for the Price of One

Pierce and Moretti - Perception

Do you like crime procedurals shows? How about medical mystery shows? Well, what you have in Perception is a twofer! This program is a crime procedural, since each week someone is killed and the goal is to solve the crime. However, it goes beyond the normal crime procedural and also becomes a medical mystery show, which I think is interesting.

Typically, the person accused of committing the crime or some other important character has some kind of medical issue – neurologically based – that becomes part of what Dr. Pierce must figure out to understand what has happened. The process of unraveling the medical mystery along with the criminal mystery makes the show very entertaining for me.

Sensitivity to People with Mental Illness

Natalie and Pierce - Perception

The mainstreaming of people with mental illness and mental disabilities has been an ongoing effort for many decades now. Institutionalization is no longer used long term except for the most serious afflictions and disabilities. Rather, group homes and personal aides, combined with outpatient treatment are very common today.

Perception provides an opportunity to bring a greater understanding to the general audience of the issues and challenges involved with mainstreaming people with neurologically based disorders. Pierce is not only schizophrenic, but is also a strong advocate for people with mental illnesses. He has personally experienced institutionalization and understands the issues, although even he admits that everyone is different and no one treatment works for all.

Max Lewicki

Lewicki and Pierce - Perception

Lewicki is Dr. Pierce’s graduate teaching assistant. As it happens, he is also his personal aide, much like Natalie was on the show Monk. It was recently revealed that he was an orderly when Dr. Pierce was institutionalized, and Pierce offered him a teaching assistantship in return for helping him professionally and personally.

Lewicki has the daunting task of keeping Pierce on track and grounded. What I especially like about him is that he is a strong character who is able to keep up with Pierce and his eccentricities. He gives as good as he gets to put it colloquially, but it is very clear that he cares strongly about Pierce.

LeVar Burton

Pierce and Haley - Perception

Ok, so what self-respecting Star Trek fan can say they did not do a fist pump and give a little cheer when they first saw LeVar in his recurring role as a dean at the university? I know I have previously established my full on geek credentials, so yes, I did a happy dance! It is so great to see LeVar again on a mostly regular basis. He is just a recurring character, but still.

I was fortunate enough to see him live at a convention in early August, and he mentioned that we would find out more about his character’s relationship to Pierce and why he is so important in his life. I know that I am looking forward to seeing more of their interactions.

Jamie Bamber

Hathaway and Moretti - Perception

Jamie was a guest star in the first season, playing another University professor and a potential suitor for Kate Moretti. Sadly, he will not be back in the second season, partly because he now has his own TNT show, Monday Mornings, which premieres in the summer of 2013. Nonetheless, if you like Jamie, and have time to catch the repeats of the first season episodes, this will be a good reason to do so!


Do you watch Perception? Do you have any other reasons for enjoying it? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.