Alan Cumming Brings Brainy Wit to CBS' Groundbreaking New Police Procedural, "Instinct"

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17 March 2018

CBS, Sunday, March 18, 8:00 PM ET

By Kellie Freeze

Former The Good Wife favorite Alan Cumming returns to CBS on Sunday as the star of Instinct, a delightfully feisty police drama that is breaking new ground in television.

“It’s the first ever drama on American television, network drama, to have a gay character as the lead,” says Cumming. “Which I think is an incredible thing and also a terrible thing at the same time.”

Cumming shines as Dr. Dylan Reinhart, a former CIA operative turned bestselling author and university professor of criminal behavior who is drawn back into action after helping solve a crime for the NYPD.

“He’s sort of a fuddyduddy professor, a bit of a dandy. He kind of is a former spy. He drives a motorbike. He’s gay,” lists Cumming. “And also, as you say in America, he opens up a can of whoop-ass sometimes. And that’s quite a nice thing to be able to do in your 50s,” he laughs.

Not only does Reinhart have a diversely interesting life history, but he’s also one of TV’s quirkiest leading characters, so his frame of reference is wonderfully bizarre.

“I’m willing to make him a little odd and dare to be a little weird,” Cumming teases.

A conversation with Reinhart might include a musical reference to his childhood as a musical prodigy, a cultural mention courtesy of his world travels or snippets from a presumed forgotten conversation, as Reinhart possesses a phonographic memory and can recall everything he’s ever heard.

Dr. Reinhart is also a much sunnier character than TV typically sees on a crime procedural, and Cumming blithely admits, “I like to confound people’s expectations.” The relationships Reinhart has with his husband (Daniel Ings), his former CIA chum (Naveen Andrews) and his book editor (Whoopi Goldberg) are simply refreshing.

But Reinhart’s charm is sublime when he’s with Detective Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic), his tough new partner.

“I am excited to have characters at the center of a series who don’t need to have sexual chemistry,” says Cumming, “where their relationship can be a different kind of brother/sister, slightly passive-aggressive, outsmart-each other rivalry, but then they grow to love each other.”

Instinct delivers plenty of mystery and action, but with a light touch. Executive producer Michael Rauch says, “Hopefully when the show is over you feel satisfied watching a crime, but you also feel just a little bit lighter and happier from watching the characters and the humor.”
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