“I was pushing for something Rock ‘n’ Roll ,”says McCormack of his
shaggy professor look on his new series Perception

Eric McCormack stars as a college professor who helps solve crimes in Perception (premiering Wednesday night at 9 p.m. on Bravo).
The Toronto native was back in his hometown last week when I interviewed him for a piece on the new crime drama, which has already been picked up for a second season Stateside on TNT. The story ran on The Canadian Press newswire and details how perception is reality on TV these days, with L.A. standing in for Chicago as the setting of this series. You can jump to that story here.

“Crime is not his job, he’s a teacher,” said McCormack. “I love that. For that reason alone he’s a fish out of water in a crime scene.”
Still, that’s hardly unique on TV these days. Castle is an author-turned-crime fighter. The Mentalist is a psychic-turned-crime fighter. Dexter is,  well, a psycho-turned-crime fighter.
The twist with McCormack’s college neuroscience professor is that he suffers from paranoid Schizophrenia, a condition which leads to hallucinations that somehow give him insights into crime scenes. 
McCormack was loath to label this a “special power.” It is a mental disorder, he acknowledges. He doesn’t want anybody to think he or the show is making light of the condition.
He does say, however, that there is a nickname given to this kind of cop show genre: the “defective detective.”
Which made me laugh. Years ago, back when there was a MacLean Hunter Cable TV operating out of Etobicoke, me and some buddies with too much time on our hands created a little video comedy series called Etobichannel. It was basically a no-budget, student-made rip-off of SCTV. It ran from 1981-85 on community access in Etobicoke and parts of the GTA.
Ted Head: the original “defective detective”
One of the segments of the show was Ted Head: Defective Detective, played by future CP24 and CBC NN biz anchor B.J. Del Conte.
Ted’s handicap was pretty severe: he had no body. Not, “NOOOOBODY,” as Mel Lastman would say–NO BODY.
He would try to bully crooks into giving up, but his threats to tear them limb from limb seemed pretty lame considering he had no limbs.
We’d shoot action scenes by putting a rubber face mask on a football, slapping on Ted’s trademark fedora and kicking the head around while adding plenty of sound effects later. Andy Tough shot it and B.J. and Globe and Mail TV columnist Andy Ryan wrote it.

Since there’s a whole defective detective genre now, maybe its time to bring Ted back. He’s older and presumably wiser. Maybe he’s a Creative Head by now, or on CBC’s “At Issue” panel as a talking head.
A Ted Head revival may have to wait until somebody can find a machine that transfers 3/4-inch videotapes. Until then, check out McCormack’s more capable crime solver, tonight on Bravo.
Speaking of Etobichannel, I asked McCormack if he had seen his old Will & Grace pal Sean Hayes’ spot-on impersonation of Larry Fine in the Farley Brothers’ Three Stooges movie this summer. I expected him to say, “Sointenly,” but McCormack said he had not. “Why I outta…,” I protested.
McCormack felt bad for about a second and then pointed out that Hayes never saw any of his 140 performances this season in The Best Man on Broadway, “so F– him, we’re even!”

1 Comment

  1. Perception does seem to fit into that becomes-an-honourary-cop sub-genre made so well known by that other Canadian duo on US tv. Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic meet Eric McCormack and Kelly Rowan. Then there is The Listener who started off as a paramedic. And of course who can forget Sherlock Holmes. Then there is Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries but she is more a pain the butt for the actual cop in that show. Then there are the Breakout Kings. A show with a cop who works with someone not-a-cop is hardly a fish-out-of-water on tv these days.

    A neuroscience professor who suffers from paranoid Schizophrenia alone could be an interesting show. It could also be highly offensive. That the character acknowledges his condition and is able to manage it and be a net-positive in society might have people realise that not everyone needs a lot of meds and to be locked up for the rest of their lives. And of course not everyone will end up a world famous scientist.

    I wish Bravo had the show on closer to when it was on TNT. I wish TNT hadn’t held off showing it until the summer. Most, and maybe all, of the episodes were made last year.

    Do you have to censor quotations on Blogspot or is that just your own preference? Is that part of the threshold for not having an “adult content, do you wish to continue” notice?

    As for your defective detective show, i am curious how you got a disembodied head in what i am guessing is not an animated show on a zero-budget some 30 years ago.

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