TNT’s brand-new summer series Perception centers on Dr. Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack), an eccentric neuroscience professor with paranoid schizophrenia, who is recruited by the FBI to help solve complex cases. Premiering July 9, the series will air on Mondays at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), following The Closer. We caught up with Perception co-creator and executive producer Kenneth Biller to get his thoughts on the new drama.
Q: What will the audience love about Perception?
A: I hope what they are going to love is this character Dr. Daniel Pierce, played by Eric McCormack, who is really different than any other character on television right now. His mind works in a very unique way; he struggles with some unique challenges that are both his curse and his gift, making his approach to life and solving crimes more interesting than your typical television crime solver.
Q: What will we find out right off the bat about Dr. Daniel Pierce?
A: We learn immediately that he’s a popular but eccentric and idiosyncratic professor at a very prestigious university in Chicago. We also learn he is an expert in the brain and human behavior. He’s a neuroscientist with an M.D. and a Ph.D. who has an insight into human behavior – especially strange human behavior – that most of us do not possess. He sees the world in a very interesting way.
Q: Tell us about some of the other characters we will meet.
A: Kate Moretti, played by Rachael Leigh Cook, is one of Daniel’s former students. She is very quirky and dry – funny in her own right. There is also an attraction between Pierce and Moretti. She had a crush on him when she was a student, but a relationship between them would have been inappropriate. Now, she’s all grown up. But I think Daniel considers himself a very difficult person to handle, so he doesn’t want to subject someone he cares about to being in a relationship with him.
Natalie Vincent, played by Kelly Rowan, is a woman with whom Pierce had a relationship with a long time ago, and now they’ve kind of settled into best-friend mode. She points out his foibles and faults and gives him a hard time.
Max Lewicki, played by Arjay Smith, is Pierce’s teaching assistant and factotum. Pierce and Max have a really fun and interesting relationship.
I think the audience will really love these characters and will come back to see them each week. The intriguing mysteries in which they are involved will be fun for the audience untangle. I think viewers will really enjoy seeing if they can keep up with the mind of Daniel Pierce.
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges faced in the writers’ room?
A: I think one of the hardest things was creating this really brilliant character that sees the world in such a different way. He is so intelligent – much smarter than I am – so we are trying to figure out how to keep him really, really smart but still create stories that the audience can follow and believe. We set the bar high in the pilot, which has a lot of twists and turns, making it a mystery within a mystery. It was challenging to create, but it was a lot of fun.