The Case For Instinct

Published: 14 May 2018

instinct tenplay

Entering a crowded crime procedural space, Instinct has its work cut out, but led by a dazzling turn from Alan Cumming, still manages to be a cut above the rest.

Instinct, S1, 2018

What’s the story?

A new procedural from the house of NCIS, Elementary, Blue Bloods and other such storied crime-stoppers. Be prepared to don your detective hat and get sucked into a weekly web of heart-stopping homicide, twisted mind games and entertainingly labyrinthine investigations.

How twisted?

It’s from the mind of James Patterson, the crime writer extraordinaire responsible for the likes of the Alex Cross series, so you do the math. With the pilot adopting the plot of Patterson’s best-seller Murder Games, Instinct’s first case features a serial killer who leaves playing cards on his victims, and employs all manner of grisly methods to deal them an ill-fated hand.

Instinct, S1, 2018

Who’s on the case?

Alan Cumming! Long-deserving of a starring role, the actor responsible for The Good Wife’s scene-stealing Eli Gold plays former-CIA-agent-turned-author-turned-psychology-professor Dr Dylan Reinhart. Possessing – you got it – a fierce ‘instinct’ for deciphering criminal behaviour, he’s traded the “dangerous Dylan” guise of old for the altogether more sedate, tweed-wearing life of academia. Until a case of deadly proportions PULLS. HIM. BACK. IN.

Instinct, S1, 2018

There’s a partner right?

There’s always a partner. It’s Detective Lizzie Needham who draws the reluctant Reinhart back into the fold, noticing that a recent murder bares eerie echoes to Dylan’s book about gambling. Cue an engaging partnership with impressively instinctive properties. Think Detective Needham looks familiar? She’s played by Bojana Novakovic, the Serbia-Australian actress with Rake, Shameless, Westworld and I, Tonya among her distinguished credits.

What’s different about it?

Instinct makes history by being the first US prime-time drama to feature an openly gay lead character. Dylan’s sexuality, and his loving same-sex marriage, are addressed early in the pilot, but despite being a landmark TV moment, they’re not used to define a character who’s compelling for so many reasons. As the openly bisexual Cumming himself has noted: “Most times when we see gay characters on American TV, their gayness is the prime thing. Being gay is the fourth or fifth most interesting thing about this character.”

Instinct, S1, 2018

What’s great?

Alan ‘24 Carrot Gold’ Cumming. The twists. The relationships. Whoopi. The solve-it-yourself whodunit?.

Instinct premieres 8.45 Wednesday on TEN and tenplay