There's a certain type of TV crime solver whose personality quirks are so fun to watch that the sorta-easy-to-figure-out crimes they're investigating are simply a platform to put that personality on display.
Crime solvers like Tony Shalhoub's Adrian Monk, Peter Falk's Columbo and Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher come to mind.
Eric McCormack (Will & Grace), who is Dr. Daniel Pierce in TNT's Perception (10pm), is worthy of joining their ranks, even with the show's flaws (more on that in a sec) and crimes that aren't quite so easy to figure out.
Dr. Pierce is a Chicago professor and neuropsychiatrist who, not unlike Nathan Fillion's Richard Castle on ABC's Castle, is pulled into murder investigations not because he's a cop or detective but because he has a knack for figuring out whodunit.
In his case, Dr. Pierce can pinpoint a person's psychological problems even when they're not noticeable to anyone else. That may be because he's dealing with his own schizophrenic hallucinations. He sees people who just so happen to help him figure out a murder.
He's recruited to help solve crimes by FBI agent and former student Kate Moretti (Rachael Leigh Cook).
The show is easy to watch - each episode goes down like a creamy milkshake. But it's not without flaws, notably storylines that are sometimes more farfetched than quirky. An episode later this month, for instance, has a mentally challenged woman's mom recreating her teenage bedroom to spark memories. Only on TV would that work like a charm.
Tonight's episode is better. A murdered guy worked for a giant pharmaceutical company and had a boatload of people who may have wanted him dead - his wife, girlfriend and coworkers who were at risk of losing out on millions, maybe billions of dollars if he exposed their lies.
Dr. Pierce is the kind of guy who in real life would be a pain in the neck to be around but, on TV, has quirks that make him someone worth hanging with.
He's socially inept. He tells a student that her invitation to coffee is an invitation to sex. He blocks out his delusions by listening to cassette tapes (as opposed to downloads) of classical music. And he obsessively figures out crossword puzzles.
In between, he's a wickedly smart professor (at a really cool-looking university). He's a middle-aged guy who's still trying to seal the deal with his college sweetheart. And he is a Cubs' fan who sometimes likes nothing more than sitting on his couch watching a game.
Like Monk, Columbo and Jessica Fletcher, Dr. Pierce also likes spotting a clue or two that no one else can see. In his case, on the sleek, well-made Perception, Dr. Pierce also sees people who don't exist.