BRAINS: University professor Daniel Pierce (Eric McCormack) is consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. PICTURE: FOXCRIME
You need to be flawed to solve crime. It's a law of TV. Brilliant mind, blighted character.
We've had addicts, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) sufferers, arrogant souls and even a serial killer all on the side of justice. Now, add to that a paranoid schizophrenic.
According to crime drama Perception, this particular mental affliction is not a problem. It's a positive.
Watching it, I almost wish I had paranoid schizophrenia like the main character, Dr Daniel Pierce, played by Eric McCormack. In the world of Perception, it's essentially a cool superpower.
But he has a cool sideline - consultant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, solving the cases too difficult for their more well-balanced agents.
Pierce is brilliant because of his paranoid schizophrenia - seeing and hearing people who aren't actually there who point out clues out to him. How handy.
Yes, the good professor is the latest brilliant but damaged eccentric playing part-time detective.
The strategy has worked for so many shows - House, The Mentalist, Monk and of course Sherlock, spring to mind - so why shouldn't the creators build on this familiar formula?
Well, it depend where your boundaries of taste lie. Monk's OCD wasn't so bad, but Perceptions' premise is as ridiculous as ghosts coming to help solve crime.
This is the cuddly TV side of mental disorders. They aren't as serious as they can be in real life.
Everyone knows of Pierce's condition. But because it's TV, getting a conviction based on a man's damaged imagination is no problem.
In fact, Piece's visions keep him company and deliver solutions to him on a silver platter.
It's like the misguided notion that someone who is blind has all his other senses heightened.
McCormack's Pierce is a likeable guy and just like his lead character in Will & Grace, Pierce is socially awkward, but exudes an offbeat charm.
He's far from an outcast who talks to himself - everybody loves him.
When Pierce gives a lecture, his students look to him like he's some kind of guru; some obviously want to get it on with him.
Unlike Russell Crowe's portrayal of John Nash, who battled with his illusions in A Beautiful Mind, Pierce gets along with his delusions.
Like the old joke goes "you're never alone with schizophrenia".
Friendly "visitors" who give the best advice and soothe emotional bruises? I wouldn't mind that.
Then again, you might need special mental powers to solve the oh-so-convoluted crimes on this show.
The first instalment - which aired yesterday - left me utterly befuddled. It had a murder, an attempted murder, corporate intrigue and a love triangle all tangled up in the one episode.
The writers try too hard. Even McCormack's charms can't save it.
That said, the writers have certainly done their research.
Each episode features other characters with other mental disorders I've never heard of - people who can't recognise faces, or act as human lie detectors.
It would be great to explore this mental treasure trove but it's a pity that most of them are wheeled out just for Pierce to identify their condition.
In fact, it's all about Pierce. Secondary characters don't really get fleshed out.
For example, Pierce's friend Natalie (Kelly Rowan) is perpetually waiting to keep him company and ever-willing to be his counsellor.
Her main function seems to be letting Pierce explain his feelings and she seems somewhat detached from the rest of the world. No prizes for guessing her secret.
Using mental illness as a gimmick is arguably in bad taste. But what do I know?
It's been picked up for a second season in the US. Now that's madness.
• Perception airs on Saturdays at 11 pm on FoxCrime (StarHub Channel 503, 557 (HD) and SingTel mio TV Channel 313 (HD))
sounds very much like The Mentalist's plot, except that the consultant isn't neither a professor nor paranoid schizophenic.