Eric McCormack likes the duality of the character he plays in his latest series, “Perception” (10 p.m. EDT Monday, TNT).
As Dr. Daniel Pierce, a schizophrenic neuroscientist who solves crimes, “his brain is like his best friend and his worst enemy,” the actor says.
His skills also make him a masterful detective with a knowledge of human behavior and understanding of the mind, granting him an extraordinary ability to read people. But his eccentricities and poor social skills can hamper his work.
“He has the intellectual hubris of a scientist, but he has the passion and the empathy of a teacher,” McCormack says.
But for Pierce “to mix that with the symptoms of his condition, to go from being a very funny, flirty lecturer one minute to absolutely crippled socially the next or inappropriate, because something comes out, is something we have to be careful with, but it’s also the secret to making him an interesting and complex character.”
Rachael Leigh Cook co-stars as FBI Agent Kate Moretti, a former student of Pierce’s and the person who recruits him to work with the FBI.
Pierce is a risk-taker, rejecting his medication to think clearer on his cases. Such a daring act is a complete turnaround from the insecure and passive Will Truman, McCormack’s beloved character on “Will & Grace.”
McCormack realizes that not everyone will be charmed by Pierce because of how he approaches taking medication.
“That’s a controversial thing for someone to do,” McCormack says. “In his case, it’s kind of like almost an intellectual hubris.
“He certainly wouldn’t recommend that to anybody else suffering with a condition, but for him it’s like ‘physician heal thyself.’ He figures that with the meds he loses a chunk of who he is and the way his magnificent brain works. He doesn’t want to dull that.”
Other highlights for the week of July 8-14 (check local listings):
“Mega Mansions” (7 p.m., Travel Channel). If you like looking at how the other half lives and where they do it, this tour showcase of great American homes — from Biltmore to the Hearst Castle — will be your pleasure.
“The Closer” (9 p.m., TNT). The popular detective series launches its final six episodes. Brenda (Kyra Sedgwick) thinks she’s found a way to defeat her longtime foe (Billy Burke), a suspected rapist and murderer, but her obsession with that notion threatens the case.
“Hard Times: Lost on Long Island” (9 p.m., HBO). Whether you think the country is still mired in an economic hardship or on its way to recovery, you’ll want to sit down for this documentary, which looks at how the crisis is crushing four families living on Long Island.
“Bunheads” (9 p.m., ABC Family). A dancer, who started out as a ballerina and then became a strutter in Las Vegas, shifts gears, marries and tries domestic bliss. Sounds like the sort of light drama Hugh Hefner might watch these days.
“White Collar” (9 p.m., USA Network). Season four opens with Neal (Matt Bomer) and buddy Mozzie (Willie Garson) on the run, with the FBI on their trail.
“NY Med” (10 p.m., ABC). From the people who brought us “Hopkins,” a reality show about the doctors and patients at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Hospital, comes this similar look at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital system.
“Damages” (9 p.m., DirecTV’s Audience Network). Talk about star power. Glenn Close and Rose Byrne already star in this cat-and-mouse legal drama. Now Ryan Phillippe is added to the cast as a new season begins.
“Beverly Hills Nannies” (9 p.m., ABC Family). Demanding Southern California families put their nannies to the test in this reality-show record of the nannies’ lives.
“Picked Off” (10 p.m., History). Think you can haggle with the big guns? “American Pickers” is so popular that it’s spinning off a competition in which pairs look for the best hidden treasure and get it with a great deal.
“Big Brother” (9 p.m., CBS). The most obnoxious reality show around kicks off another season of backstabbing housemates whose lives are documented 24/7.
“True Bloodthirst” (9 p.m., SyFy). Sounds like a parody, but it’s really just a gentle ripoff of HBO’s “True Blood.” Humans and vampires openly co-exist when a war between them breaks out.