Greetings, my friends. It’s time, once again, to chat about the awesome shows on television that you’re (probably) not watching. Today’s show is something different than our usual summertime, blue-sky fare.
It’s called “Perception” … and hopefully watching it will change the way you see the world, a little bit. (See what I did there?)
Last time we got together to talk television, I gave a brief shout out to one of my favourite fictional characters, Dr. Gregory House. Played by the incomparable Hugh Laurie, my adoration of whom is another post topic for another day, House introduced us to a now-familiar television archtype: the brilliant but quirky expert who proves invaluable even when they’re driving everyone around them nuts. See also: Temperance Brennan on “Bones”, Charlie Eppes on “Numb3rs” and even, to a certain degree, my beloved Richard Castle on “Castle”!
“Perception” does something fresh with this familiar template. Eric McCormack plays Dr. Daniel Pierce, a renowned, and of course eccentric, neuroscience professor who is recruited by the FBI to help solve cases. Pierce has a deep and nuanced understanding of how the human mind works. He also has paranoid schizophrenia.
Pierce’s hallucinations often provide clues to the case that his conscious mind isn’t aware of, but they just as often cause him to act irrationally and put himself, and others, in danger. For viewers, it isn’t always clear who on screen is “real” and who isn’t, so our sense of reality is shifted and fragmented along with Pierce’s throughout each episode. The world within the tv show grabs your attention and completely disorients you at the same time.
I personally am not close to anyone living with mental illness, so I’m not really in a position to say whether this is an accurate (by television drama standards, anyway) portrayal of living with paranoid schizophrenia, or whether it’s a completely glamorized Hollywood version. For what it’s worth though, I haven’t seen the show ever play his hallucinations for laughs, and nothing has set my geek glasses quivering and triggered my “positions of cultural and societal privilege are being treated as normal and excluding other groups’ experiences” radar.
What? I was a Communications major, remember?!?
Aside from using big words from time to time, one thing I do have experience with is television. I watch an awful lot of it, so I am comfortable saying that I’m in a position to recognize complex, fully realized characters when I see them. And I think Dr. Daniel Pierce is as complex and fully realized as they come, which is reason enough to add him to my weekly viewing schedule this summer!
Meanwhile, can you believe that it’s almost time for another WoW Friday already? Come back tomorrow to see whose words we’ll be using to end the week!