Monday, September 3, 2012

Eric McCormack Returns To TV With Perception

The latest new "American" TV series to debut on bravo is pretty much 99 % Canadian as far as I can tell.
It stars Eric McCormack from Will And Grace, a Scarborough born actor who attended the same high school as Mike Meyers.
And the pilot at least was shot in Toronto specifically at University College, University of Toronto which I attended back in the Sixties.
Many of the co-stars are Canadian, too. In the first hour I counted Kelly Rowan (from The OC), Jonathan Scarfe, Rick Roberts  plus the Toronto Dominion Center.
I only met McCormack once --he was up at Global doing some talk show thing and I got to interview him afterwards. He was there with his parents and they were all nice.
McCormack was then halfway through his TV wonder years in the sizzling hit Will And Grace --it ran 1998 to 2006 almost always in or near the Top Ten.
And when it was over McCormack faced the same struggles as such TV megastars as Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Selleck and Mary Tyler Moore.
In the public "perception" he's still wise cracking Will Truman.
Having those 187 episodes in constant syndication only adds to his burden. W&G made him famous and wealthy but now he just needs to move on.
The TV series Trust Me (2009) was not that launching pad to other things: it lasted 13 episodes in 2009.
But the new crime solving saga Perception just might work. It's part of a drive by the U.S. cable weblet TNT to be considered seriously in TV drama. One of the biggest TV hits of the season, the reboot of Dallas, comes from TNT.
Certainly I've enjoyed McCormack as an actor since spotting him at Stratford.
In Perception he's cast as a singularly weird neurosurgeon who uses his schizophrenia to solve crimes with the aid of a comely FBI agent nicely played by Rachael Leigh Cook.
The series borrows a bit from such TV hits as Monk and The Mentalist with a touch of House thrown in for good measure.
His hair tousled, with a day's growth of beard and shaggy clothes Dr. Jack Pearce is an emotional shambles.
How brilliant is this dude? He sees a sentence and immediately thinks "anagram". He conducts an unseen orchestra while listening to his classical cassettes.
To discover if a suspect is a liar Pearce imports an aphasiac who is expert at reading body language. The aphasiac watches the tape and laughs loudly meaning the person is a liar. Is this scientific? Well, it works doesn't it?
And then there are the characters who suddenly pop up but they only appear to him and give him clues. Is this stunting? Is Peace just plain crazy or brilliant? Be warned: Joan of Arc makes a guest appearance in an upcoming episode --don't say I didn't warn you.
The way McCormack gets into a role is fascinating. He's skilled enough to keep us watching even if some of the plot devices seem outrageous. He has away of fast talking that holds our attention and the series may yet make sense of his actions.
More attention to crime solving and less to whimsy and this one might definitely make it now that House has decamped to Rerunland.
MY RATING: ** 1/2.

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