Hugh Laurie Brings Dour Competence to ‘Chance’ Season 2

The system doesn’t work. Real cops, lifers or the actors who play them on TV, who want to get anything done have to be flexible. They have to think on their feet. The criminal justice system only allows them so much leeway. Sometimes they have to go to the professionals who bucked the system, or left the organization, and took with them the skills and experience of the job. All crime investigations begin and end with forensics, especially on TV. Corrupt cops go to corrupt forensic psychiatrists for help in “Chance,” Hulu’s bingeably dark crime procedural.

Dr. Eldon Chance is a forensic neuropsychiatrist and Hugh Laurie plays with the same dour Americanism he brought to Dr. House on “House, M.D.” Laurie began as a comic actor and musician who brought an evil grin to big time badass Richard Roper in “The Night Manager,” and wove a wonderfully subversive comic turn as insubordinate vice presidential hopeful Tom James on HBO’s satiric masterwork series “Veep.” Chance doesn’t have a substance abuse problem, but he is a junkie. He can’t turn down cold cases.

Like House, he also can’t seem to get away from a little bit of thin blue line of extortion. Detective Hynes (Brian Goodman) is kept up all night by the one who got away, a millionaire philanthropist who never smiles named Ryan Winter (Paul Schneider). It seems years ago, before he made a killing in startups Winter did it with a gleeful abandon on flesh and blood. It takes a sick mind to do the things he did and if anybody knows sick minds it’s the Dr. Chance. Hynes knows Chance won’t pass up a chance to take down someone so evil. Not just because he’s got the goods on the good doctor, but also because he can’t imagine anyone looking through the case files and not being horribly affected psychologically.

Hynes is not wrong. One night of looking at the victim photos makes a true believer out of Dr. Chance. That doesn’t mean the procedurally gifted shrink buys everything the cop is telling him. There’s also something not right about the homicide detective, and he bears a little investigation himself. These two plots drive the second season as Chance takes chances in every aspect of his life. He tries to instigate fights with bullies in front of his daughter Nicole (Stefania LaVie Owen). He knocks out a guy just so he can get him alone in a hospital room for questioning, having learned the technique at a class that very morning. He sidesteps his ex-wife Christina (Diane Farr). You would think this guy is some kind of national treasure like Tracey Ullman’s impersonation of Dame Judy Dench, who can get away with anything.

His wife may be suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, commonly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, and the plainclothes veteran has a history of abuse with the woman. But Chance is a good enough head shrink to know that he might solve both problems by solving the crime that’s eating at the cop. It will also leave one less twisted individual on streets as Chance digs into the San Francisco’s gritty underworld to find out the truth about the Silicon Valley transplant.

The first two episodes, “Multitiaxal System” and “A Very Special Onion,” showcases the race between what Dr. Chance will uncover against how far he can push the limits of what is ethically allowed. He is a fast learner who plays fast and loose with everything but what’s going on inside disturbed minds.

The series also features Ethan Suplee as Darius ‘D’ Pringle; Lisa Gay Hamilton as Suzanne Simms and Gretchen Mol from “Boardwalk Empire” as Jaclyn Blackstone.

Chance” season 2 premieres on Oct. 11 and airs Wednesdays on Hulu.