Madness and drama keep good company. We have been entertained by staged bouts of insanity at least since Shakespeare's "Hamlet," the play that includes the line from Polonius about the "method" to Hamlet's madness.
On television, the notion of a character or detective "touched" by a condition or affliction that actually enhances his or her abilities has been well-traveled. "Monk" all but launched USA Network's successful run of whimsical procedurals. Its rival network takes the defective detective genre to extremes with "Perception" (10 p.m., TNT, TV-14).
Now entering its second season, "Perception" stars Eric McCormack as Dr. Daniel Pierce, a brilliant professor and neurologist who is also a paranoid schizophrenic suffering from full-blown hallucinations.
McCormack is well-cast here as Professor Pierce. Even as Will on "Will & Grace," he did a great job of walking the fine line between didactic hectoring and exasperated whimsy. As the charming professor, he poses probing questions to his students (and to the audience) about the nature of biology and identity, personality and mere chemistry. He's less convincing as the brain-for-hire, a police expert who breezes into impossible investigations that are often, if not inevitably, a case of mind over matter.
Pierce's role as a delusional, hallucination-prone investigator is troubling. We're led to believe that his super cognitive powers don't really kick in unless he's slightly off (his meds or his rocker -- take your pick of offensive phrases). The fact that he has a deep attraction to a completely fictional woman based on his real analyst (Kelly Rowan) is more than a little creepy. Then again, that could be said of "Perception."
---Last Sunday, Lifetime launched "Devious Maids," a comedy/mystery about servants and masters and a show that, in its own unsubtle way, at least raises questions about the victimization of the powerless and the voiceless.
---"Frontline" (10 p.m., PBS) joins forces with Univision News to present "Rape in the Fields/Violacion de un Sueno" a report on the rape and sexual assault of undocumented farm workers.
---TV-themed DVDs available today include "Inspector Lewis, Series 6."
---Apolo Anton Ohno hosts "Minute to Win It" (8 p.m., GSN, TV-PG).
---Two hours of auditions on "So You Think You Can Dance" (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
---With crabs proving elusive, the crew feels abused on "Deadliest Catch" (9 p.m., Discovery, TV-14).
---"Rizzoli & Isles" (9 p.m., TNT, TV-14) returns for another season of buddy cop/pajama party antics.
---Kyle hunts for incriminating evidence on "Twisted" (9 p.m., ABC Family, TV-14).
---C.J.'s impulsive move yields meager results on "Blood & Oil" (10 p.m., Discovery, TV-14).
---"Catfish: The TV Show" (10 p.m., MTV) returns for a second season.
---"Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" (10 p.m., HBO) profiles high-wire walker Nik Wallenda and recalls baseball's Negro Leagues.
Two precocious prep school girls (Tippy Walker and Merrie Spaeth) become besotted with a famous
pianist (Peter Sellers) in the 1964 comedy "The World of Henry Orient" (10 p.m., TCM). Unbe-
knownst to them, their efforts to follow him foil his adulterous adventures. Paula Prentiss and Angela Lansbury also star. It's a charming, bittersweet period piece from the "Mad Men" era. And not unlike Sally's story on that series, it's about young women stumbling toward womanhood and realizing the deep flaws in their elders and idols.
---Hanna worries about her mother's secret on "Pretty Little Liars" (8 p.m., ABC Family, TV-14).
---A reservist's husband vanishes on "NCIS" (8 p.m., CBS, r, TV-PG).
---Afghan intrigue on "NCIS: Los Angeles" (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---Reese is the victim of an abduction on "Person of Interest" (10 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14).
---Angie Harmon, Moshe Kasher, Natasha Leggero and Matt Braunger are booked on "Chelsea Lately" (11 p.m., E!).
---Peniel Joseph sits down on "The Colbert Report" (11:30 p.m., Comedy Central).
---Channing Tatum and Fitz and the Tantrums appear on "Late Show With David Letterman" (11:35 p.m., CBS).
---Jay Leno welcomes Sandra Bullock and Bob Saget on "The To night Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC).
---Miley Cyrus and Marlon Wayans appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:35 p.m., ABC).
---Craig Ferguson hosts Breckin Meyer and Wendie Malick on "The Late Late Show" (12:35 a.m., CBS).
Reach Kevin McDonough at