TNT is assuring viewers that its new crime-solving series is “unique.” And by “unique,” they mean “more or less identical to every other quirky, offbeat, crazy-but-brilliant amateur detective on TV.” Familiarity, however, isn’t a crime—certainly not on network TV—and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that “Perception” will score solid ratings for TNT.
What with Hollywood snapping up every old TV show in creation to make campy theatrical comedies (21 Jump Street? Dark Shadows?), there’s hardly anything left for television to reboot. (Sure, we got a couple crappy episodes of “Charlie’s Angels” last season, but that was only after two big budget movies had their way with the series.) For the last five years, Hollywood bragged about shooting a feature film reboot of the once-popular nighttime soap “Dallas.” John Travolta was slated to be our new J.R. Perhaps mercifully, that seems to have fallen apart—and now TNT is free to rush ahead with its own brand-new prime-time version of the series.
TNT is crazy for crime. The network has adapted four best-selling crime novels into made-for-TV movies in the last month alone. The latest page-to-screen adaptation is Hide, based on Lisa Gardner’s Det. D.D. Warren novels. Hide is actually the second of the six novels, but it gives viewers as good a jumping-in point as any.
Aliens are the new zombies. A lingering fear of foreign terrorists and a growing mistrust of undocumented aliens have turned Americans into full-fledged xenophobes. Hence, the most timely metaphorical monster we can imagine right now is the flying-saucer-piloting, death-ray-shooting invader from outer space.
Since time immemorial (or “the 1950s,” depending on how far back your memory actually reaches), the holy trinity of TV show characters has been composed of cops, doctors and lawyers. Those three occupations have formed the backbone of every television network’s prime-time schedule since the creation of the cathode ray. Police officers, medical professionals and public defenders are always with us. The only variation on the theme seems to be: serious or wacky? Are these dramatic cops (“Adam-12”) or kooky cops (“Barney Miller”)? Intense docs (“ER”) or quirky docs (“Scrubs”)? Conscientious lawyers (“Perry Mason”) or nutty lawyers (“Ally McBeal”)?