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Jesse L. Martin's New Show, Psych, and Other Mind-Bending Series That Star Detectives with Unusual Abilities
Sometimes, like on The Irrational, it takes a detective with extraordinary powers and special abilities to solve crimes.
The Irrational has many things in common with other detective series: taped-off crime scenes, police evidence, and nail-biting life-or-death situations. But the new thriller has all those things and something more: a lead character with special capabilities. Alec Baker, played by Jesse L. Martin, is a world-renowned professor of behavioral sciences whose insights into the human mind help him crack high-stake cases.
We’ve all had at least one moment in our lives where we wished we had special powers to solve problems, and it's always entertaining when we can live vicariously through our favorite detective shows to accomplish that (sort of). So, here are some of our favorite shows featuring people using unfathomable skills to uncover the truth. Whether it’s an investigator who can talk to the dead or a body language expert who is a walking lie detector, these shows explore all types of exceptional powers.
Monk (2002 – 2009)
Way ahead of its time, this legendary USA Network series introduced audiences to the puzzling genius of private detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub), whose obsessive-compulsive disorders and other phobias both hindered and helped his investigations. Heartbroken after the untimely death of his wife, Monk struggled with distraction throughout the series — he touched every parking meter he passed and wiped his hands after every handshake. But when it came to crime-stopping, he focused all of his attention and often noticed details that no one else could.
Watch Monk now on Peacock.
Psych (2006 – 2014)
Though the show’s lead might seem psychic to everyone around him, Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriquez) is awesomely gifted in a different way: He has an eidetic memory, better known as a photographic memory. Shawn’s ability to instantly recall images in full detail after just a brief glance comes in handy when helping authorities solve crimes. In one of the many enjoyable twists and turns of the series, Spencer must hide his true abilities and pose as a psychic to the police to avoid being a suspect himself.
Watch Psych now on Peacock.
Giving crime the paranormal treatment, Raines was a short-lived yet impactful police procedural that introduced a new twist to the genre. The LAPD homicide detective Michael Raines (Jeff Goldblum) solved murders by talking to the dead. The Emmy and Oscar-nominated Goldblum played the troubled yet brilliant detective with quirky intensity as he channeled crime victims to gather clues about the killers.
Watch Raines now on NBC.
Hannibal (2013 – 2015)
Directed by Adam Kane, Hannibal makes a suggestive follow-up to the gruesome Silence of the Lambs movie franchise (both the series and the movies were based on horror novels by Thomas Harris). Blurring the line between horror and police procedural, Hannibal features FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), whose telepathic powers of “pure empathy” help him get into the minds of serial killers and ultimately capture them. As you can imagine, jumping into the headspace of a psychopath comes with some risks. It’s a dangerous and unusual job that will keep audiences riveted.
Watch Hannibal now on NBC.
The Blacklist (2013 – 2023)
Fact: Any show with Emmy-award winner James Spader is going to be good. The actor, who also executive produced the series, plays Raymond “Red” Reddington, an ex-US Naval Intelligence officer turned criminal mastermind turned FBI informant. Whew! Being such a skilled criminal shapeshifter takes a special kind of jaw-dropping genius. As Red hunts down a “blacklist” of international killers and thugs, we’re left wondering if he is the one manipulating the FBI (and not the other way around).
The edgy new crime drama tells the story of PR consultant Gabi Mosely (Shanola Hampton), who was kidnapped as a child, managed to escape, and now tries to help find other missing people. She is the go-to when an unconventional approach is needed, and her investigative team includes some surprising characters. For one, her own childhood kidnapper, Sir (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), is held prisoner and forced to help solve cases.
But there’s another intriguing character that will keep you watching. Margaret Reed (Kelli Williams) has nearly superhuman powers of perception and remembers small details that others fail to see. Her heart-breaking backstory — her son was kidnapped — results in some of the show’s most tender moments.
Found premieres on Oct. 3 at 10/9c on NBC and streams the next day on Peacock.
The Irrational (2023)
Jesse L. Martin's character, Alec Mercer, may not be a detective, but he still regularly helps investigators solve cases. As one of the top behavioral scientists in the world, Mercer is adept at discerning lies, getting confessions, and predicting how humans will react in a crime. This unusual insight proves invaluable when helping solve complex cases. However, despite Mercer's skills, there's one crime he can't seem to solve: a tragedy he was personally involved in years ago.
Watch the series premiere of The Irrational on Monday, September 25 at 10/9c on NBC.