A new NBC drama about a law-enforcement psychologist earns the lengthy title of First New Network Show Of the Traditional Fall TV Season.
That’s because the show, “The Irrational,” is the only new scripted show premiering on any traditional network on Monday, September 25 -- the date designated as the official start of the new season.
Sometimes, it feels strange to even write about a “fall season” since the very concept of a TV “season” has been fading into the sunset of TV history for a decade or two.
As reported here a few weeks ago, “The Irrational” is one of a handful of new and returning dramas coming to NBC in the next few weeks, despite the ongoing writers’ and actors’ strikes that have put a halt to the production of scripted TV shows.
“The Irrational” and the other shows, including the new missing-persons drama “Found,” were apparently produced before the onset of the strikes last May (writers) and July (actors).
As a result, they are available to NBC to start off the season, while the other networks go without the new shows they announced last spring.
“The Irrational” gets its title from the work of a “world-renowned” psychology professor (they’re always “world-renowned” on TV, aren’t they?) named Alec Mercer (Jesse L. Martin, pictured above) who specializes in irrational behavior.
He teaches at a fictional college around Washington, D.C., and on the side he picks up work as a consultant for the police department, the district attorney’s office and the FBI.
In this role, he applies his expertise to fully understanding suspects and, as a result, sometimes clears them, as he does in Episode One of the show that was provided for preview (along with two others).
He is also handy for hostage negotiations. In the opening sequence of the premiere of “The Irrational,” he talks a hostage-taker into giving up by making him so confused about his options that he has no choice but to surrender.
Clearly, Professor Mercer is a charismatic guy who is great at his job. We also learn that he is divorced, and suffering from PTSD stemming from a past incident.
On the plus side, he drives a really, cool red, vintage Karmann Ghia that he seems to park anywhere he wants to.
In the premiere episode of “The Irrational,” the professor is brought in to investigate the murder of a young woman who works in a beauty salon.
She also makes videos for social media where she has become a hair and makeup influencer with 250,000 followers.
Here is the part of the show that didn’t work for me: As part of the investigation, Professor Mercer decides to go undercover to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where he tries to manipulate other members, through his expertise in psychology, to reveal things that others may have shared there.
He adopts this strategy after learning that the woman was active in Alcoholics Anonymous along with her ex-boyfriend (and suspect in her murder), who she met at an AA meeting.
Misusing an AA meeting in this way struck me as tasteless and unnecessary. Surely, the writers of this show could have found some other direction for this storyline to go.
Hopefully, “The Irrational” can figure out other ways in future episodes for its investigators to find the perpetrators of crimes without having to infiltrate 12-step groups.
“The Irrational” premieres Monday night (September 25) at 10 p.m. Eastern on NBC.