When I was growing up, cop show featured cops partnered with other cops. From to Sipowicz to John Kelly all the way up to Benson and Stabler (with an assist from Ice-T). But during the middle of last decade, all the cops started getting paired with civilian, some reasonably with scientists and others with the absurd be it psychics, novelist, or my personal favorite, a piemaker who could bring the dead back to life (R.I.P. Pushing Daisies). Even the dude from Awake had an imaginary partner (possibly two). It also seemed like most of these civilians fall somewhere on the Asperger Spectrum.
Eric McCormack (whose previous TNT series Trust Me lasted only one season) is the latest civilian consultant and though he has the very helpful profession of neuroscientist professor, but of all the consultants on the new breed of cop shows, McCormack is probably highest on the Asperger Spectrum, closer to Sheldon Cooper than anyone else, and really his best cast study for his class is his own. The cop in this equation is Rachael Leigh Cook (She's All That), an FBI agent who gets demoted back to Chicago for obsessing too much over cases. Sure recruiting the obsessive compulsive McCormick (she was a former student of his) as a consultant may not have the best idea considering why she got demote, but there would be no show had she not.
Along for the ride is Arjay Smith (The Journey of Allen Strange) as McCormack’s teaching assistant slash live in man servant. Yeah, it is a very weird relationship that I still cannot quite comprehend after watching a couple episodes. There is also Kelly Rowen (Cyberbully) as McCormack’s best friend and possible former girlfriend who have a very complicated relationship that is revealed at the end of the first episode (or earlier if you figured it out like I did when Kelly first appears on screen).
LaVar Burton (Reading Rainbow) also shows up in a recurring role as the Dean at McCormick’s university who hilariously gets involved in one of the cases later this season. Jonathan Scarfe (a name you will not recognize but whose face you will because he has been on almost every television show in the past two decades going all the way back to Robocop the Series; wait, there was a RoboCop television series?) is also recurring as Cook’s FBI partner who routinely butts head with McCormick eccentricities and always has a quick whip about them. Neal McDonough also show up for an episode as an evil executive (you expect him to play a do-gooder?) who ironically gets Marshall Protection.
Aside from McCormick being the most eccentric person ever to help out the fuzz Perception does not add much to the burgeoning genre. What is does have going for it is some really weird affliction like a human lie detector introduced in the premiere (surprisingly even though they have a human lie detector at their disposal they do not use him in the future episodes). Later in the season Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me) pops up as a patient who came down as the same syndrome that Drew Barrymore had in 50 First Dates. Unfortunately for her, Adam Sandler is not the one trying to get to her, it is a raping murderer. Also expect a lot of anagrams (which are solved The Da Vinci Code style) and there is a whole episode dedicated to ciphers. Seriously. But hey, it is nice to have Rachael Leigh Cook back in our lives.
Perception airs Mondays at 10:00 on TNT.
Just as Perception gets started, The Closer is, well, coming to a close with its final six episodes. Naturally some familiar faces return like Brenda’s longtime nemesis Philip Stroh who returns tonight as the lawyer of a suspected rapist. Brenda’s parents also return as she gets her father new treatment for cancer in Los Angeles. And with the lawsuit out of the way, at some point in the final episodes we do learn who the leak within the department was. All this leading up to the series finale on August 13 which will be followed by the series premiere of its spin-off Major Crimes.
The Closer airs Mondays at 9:00 on TNT. You can also download The Closer on iTunes.