This show is based off of the film of the same name. While I have never seen it (nor had I heard of it at the time), I have gathered that the film Limitless starred Bradley Cooper. In it, Cooper plays Edward Morra, a fellow who has gotten his hands on a drug called NZT. NZT is supposed to enable a person to use 100% of their brain -- because it's working on the myth that humans use only 5% of our brains (we actually use all of it, it's just used for various and sundry functions).
In the tv show, Bradley Cooper is back as Morra, and has chosen a random schlub, Brian Finch, a wannabe musician, to grace with doses of NZT. This of course brings him to the attention of the FBI, as represented by Jennifer Carpenter (Debra Morgan from Dexter), and Hill Harper (the first ME from NCIS: NY).
Anyway, Limitless starts in mid-action, backtracks to Finch's personal history as a failure, as well as his father's (Ron Rifkin, Alias) medical issues. And even though it's only a few minutes, they didn't need to layer on the "loser" factor so much.
Of course, Finch becoming interesting comes at a price. His original NZT dealer (not Cooper's character) is murdered, he's found with the body at the crime scene, and in order to get away from the FBI, Finch is off and running. And that's the 20-minute mark.
The pilot progresses to a simple premise: people who are using NZT at a law firm are showing up dead, being murdered for this super-smart pill. After a confrontation with the killer, Finch is wounded, and Morra -- now a Senator -- has to come to the rescue, providing more NZT, and a shot to prevent side effects (which includes death).
So of course, Finch finds the bad guy, the FBI recruits him as a consultant, and a tv show is born.
Really, at the end of the day, I can only suspect that someone watched Sherlock and decided "We need to go full Cumberbatch, because smart people are entertaining." Some of the same tricks are used -- the graphics to represent thought, stopping the action to go through his thought processes. He hasn't used a memory palace yet, but he's already used a perfect memory to connect a collection of dots. And it's interesting in that when the pull wears off, Finch isn't exactly a dummy.
Honestly? The show is strangely engaging. It's fun. I'm surprised. In fact, I thought I was going to turn it off in the first five minutes. But, as pilots go, it wasn't so bad. And it might go somewhere. Right now, this was a proof of concept episode. And I'm good with that.