The Irrational Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
The Irrational is a pretty average network procedural. The NBC series, which premieres September 25, has all the necessary elements of a cop show, even if it’s not a traditional crime drama like one of the network’s biggest hits, Law & Order: SVU. It still sticks to a well-established genre formula, though. Here, a team of detectives in Washington D.C. seek the help of an “expert” with bizarre cases. Just like how Castle had a mystery writer, Forever had an immortal medical examiner, and The Mentalist had a psychic, The Irrational has Alec Mercer (Law & Order’s Jesse L. Martin), a professor of behavioral science and psychology. He is the cops’ go-to guy to understand the mindset of alleged criminals. And, of course, he proves to be irreplaceable in catching the real culprit within the span of episode.
It’s not the only procedural trope The Irrational heavily relies on. Alec usually teams up with one particular detective, Marisa (Maahra Hill), who happens to be his ex-wife. His sister is conveniently a hacker who secretly aids him at times. He also frequently divulges his cases to educate two of his most brilliant students. Now, all of this is meant to add emotional weight to an otherwise bland TV show. But sadly, The Irrational doesn’t achieve that because Martin is the only actor with a memorable performance. The rest of the cast fails to leave any mark, at least based on the three episodes provided for review.
Still, The Irrational manages one big accomplishment. It’s a rare network TV drama to actually make its primetime debut this fall. Thanks to the AMPTP withholding a fair deal with the WGA and SAG-AFTRA, the network TV schedule looks completely different in 2023, with mostly reality and competition series dominating the slate. The Irrational and NBC’s upcoming Found are exceptions because they completed filming pre-strike. So just for merely existing, it’s filling a particular void of familiar storytelling.
Created by Arika Mittman (and loosely based on Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational), the show has a simple gimmick—namely, how Alec’s insights stem from a strong belief that human beings are (you freakin’ guessed it) irrational creatures. In fact, he says so in his very first scene to make it explicitly clear in case the title and everything else about the series doesn’t do the job. Alec’s instincts and ability to tell right from wrong and to study behavioral patterns related to memory are what ultimately make him a critical part of the crime-solving team. According to Marisa, his knack for “divorcing emotion from reason” is why he’s dependable at work—but undependable in a relationship.
At least The Irrational does decent justice to Alec’s characterization. The writing plants the seeds for a season-long mystery about his past. While he’s helping with investigations, another sordid one looms large in his mind: a bombing years ago that burned part of his face—and the domestic-terrorist culprit behind it who’s still roaming the streets. It sure looks like The Irrational will use this device to unpack Alec’s motivations and why he’s so committed to helping the FBI as needed. There are no exciting levels of suspense yet (like the early years of NBC’s The Blacklist), but they’re enough to keep the wheels turning.
It’s a good thing that Alec’s personal mystery threads the show, because the case-of-the-week format isn’t nearly as wild as intended. Don’t get us wrong: The crimes are quite absurd, ranging from a fatal plane crash to polonium poisoning. At least in its initial episodes, the show zeroes in on less obvious cases to depict a thrilling facade. But none of it lands because the performances are extremely wooden, and the dialogue is packed with police and psychological jargon. A procedural needs steady supporting and guest characters to tick (again, look no further than SVU), but The Irrational just doesn’t invest in them.
Still, it’s worth remembering that network TV shows often need time to find their unique voice and capitalize on it. The Irrational isn’t there yet, but it has sparse competition this year, so maybe it could manage to surprise us. But if it doesn’t, it’s hard to stay mad at a predictably safe network drama with a charming-enough protagonist.