CBS’ Instinct: it's about time

CBS’ Instinct: it's about time

CBS' premise for this series feels familiar; a hyper-intelligent, puzzle solver turned detective is accompanied by his strong, smart female partner to solve crimes (Elementary, anyone?) However, Instinct is ground-breaking in a different way; Alan Cumming is playing the first gay male lead in CBS’ drama history. 

Though it is hard to believe we have not seen a gay male lead in a CBS drama before? Unfortunately, this is the case and while that is a poor reflection on CBS, it is a positive step for the company and Cumming’s electric performance ensures the series is here to stay. 

Instinct is based on James Patterson’s Murder Games novel and has a promising start, largely due to the enigmatic leads. Dr Dylan Reinhart (Cumming) who plays an ex-CIA operative and psych professor aids Detective Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic) in her murder cases. 

The pair meet when Dr Reinhart’s book becomes central evidence in Detective Needham’s case; a killer is roaming Manhattan leaving playing cards as clues and Reinhart’s book as a guide. From the onset, the complexities of the lead characters are established. Reinhart’s professional life is somewhat shrouded in mystery; his transition from CIA operative to professor is not entirely clear, though his unorthodox teaching methods are entertaining. 

However, unlike most CBS shows Instinct is not centred around romantic drama; Reinhart’s secure, loving relationship with his new husband Andrew (Daniel Ings) is refreshing and, frankly, should be given more screen time on the show. In the first episode, the intricacies of Needham’s character are also displayed, we learn that she is a determined detective and widow, who is grieving the loss of her husband/ex-partner. Both characters are in a rut: Reinhart, as Joan (Whoopi Goldberg), points out, it unable to write a good book draft and Needham is unable to overcome her personal grief. Thus, the characters appear to be the perfect pair, lifting each other up in the form of book inspiration and companionship.

Ultimately, the series is a wholesome drama. It is not as intense as other detective shows, it is far less gruesome and its plotlines are wrapped up in a single episode. However, the investigations stay true to the game aspect of Patterson’s novel and each comes with its own puzzle to solve, which is thoroughly entertaining. 

You can catch Instinct on Sky Witness, Thursdays at 9 pm or you can stream it on CBA All Access in the States. Click here to view the trailer.

[Photo Credits: Christopher Macsurak - Alan Cumming, CC BY 2.0.]

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