Mental illness is one of the last taboos in our society. This show tackles the subject straight on, gets us to see the world from the patient's point of view without asking for sympathy, just understanding. It's an amazing show. The plot lines are the average police procedural with a twist, however, the character development is thoughtful and very well done. I was delighted to see Season 2 and hope this show remains a long time.
The first season was just interesting enough to keep me watching to see where the writers were going. The show fits a popular structure: smart guy with a quirk, problem, talent, works with a cute, beautiful, detective to help her solve crimes. Usually homicide. In this case the doc talks to people who are not there. He has a mental problem. He talks to these non-existing people and usually gets input from them that helps solve the case. Good enough for the first season and to rate a second season. The writers are now smart enough to kick it up a notch or two for the second season.
Natalie, one of the Doc's regular hallucinations, appears as a real person. Only she is not Natalie, she is someone the Doc has seen for a brief moment a few years earlier. This becomes a couple of the best episodes in the series and does open doors to an interesting direction. The second season also introduces a new character: the cute cop lady's soon to be ex-husband. Definitely time to broaden the cast and this works. It gives the cute cop lady, who has been pretty bland so far, more to do and more interesting screen time. In the final episodes she finally gets away from just being the Doc's straight man and takes charge. In the second season an interesting series has become a good series.
I am fascinated by the brain, and this show always starts and ends with a current finding on the working of the neurochemistry of the brain. Then the FBI case our main character solves usually involves that particular brain syndrome. The acting of the win cast is good.
I do find the on & off fantasies of the professor's schizophrenia a little bewildering and too-conveniently timed. He can solve a case using his rational mind interpreting the schizophrenia-attributed clues. You are to assume the fantasy people who give the doc clues as he is solving the case are supposed to be his subconscious talking to him, but it's farfetched. The fantasy girlfriend (especially when she gets chosen over the real thing) and some of the caricature hallucinations - such as the general - are a bit annoying. I'm also not sure why McCormack's professor is such a rude curmudgeon - is that supposed to be part of schizophrenia? It just seems like thoughtless behavior - especially when he jumps all over the helpful gestures of his kind assistant. Also I find FBI agent Moretti's ex-husband Donnie just too unlikable for him to be continuing to improve his relationships with Moretti and Pierce. Small dissatisfactions though.
Overall, this is a fun, enlightening show, with a bit of willing suspension of disbelief. I am still a loyal fan.
Okay, some of the stuff they use for plot points takes some 'talking points' from things that are in the headlines of news stories and such, which is kind of cool, to be on top of current events and work them into the storyline, but some of them are really a stretch for believability. Some of the mental disorders he knows about are... well, they're real, but the way they're used in the story are not the way they really happen.
Thinking about the one episode when the girl came back from war and she was unable to talk, but he found that, just because of a certain droop to her face, she could sing! Wow! Yeah, not buying it. Yes, the condition is real (yes, I looked it up--I'm one of 'THOSE' people) but it wouldn't manifest in such a way that he'd be able to tell just by looking at her face.
This was just one example. It's not that the conditions shown are not real, they are... but the way he is able to 'diagnose' them and tell that this is what someone is suffering from an using that to solve crimes just takes a stretch for me to believe.
However, for the sake of wanting to be entertained, I sometimes allow myself to watch the show without yelling at the television, "Oh, come on!" (Okay, so I don't manage to do that, but at least when I'm yelling at the TV, my family is laughing at me while we watch the show.)
So if you can get past the suspension of disbelief issues, Eric McCormack's performance is really quite brilliant. He plays 'crazy' quite well, and unlike some of his post-Will & Grace work, this one seems really suited to his character as an actor--he just plays this part well, and believable in the struggles that a man, a brilliant man, can be limited by but not stopped by his psychological conditions. Knowing a real-life paranoid schizophrenic, I know he's certainly not as functional as the doctor on this show, but I think they write it and he acts well enough to suspend my disbelief on that. Not all schizophrenics are the same, and some are higher functioning than others.
I like the added element of a love interest in this season, and the conflict with the love interest compared to the fictional person in his mind... it will be interesting to see where this goes.
The acting is... well, a little uncomfortable yet, but I'm getting used to the characters as they get used to each other. Overall, this is a good series that I hope to stick with. Looking forward to season 3.