Premiere Date: September 23, 2008
Airs: Tuesdays at 9:o0 p.m. on CBS
by Jennifer Squires Biller
I’m a sucker for fake psychics (hence my devotion to the Psych boys), but especially when they look and captivate like Simon Baker.
The Mentalist is a procedural crime drama that features Baker as a slick-but-tortured hero, Patrick Jane. He helps the police department solve crimes with his keen sense of observation, while injecting his dry sense of humor and charm. It’s a winning combination.
Those of you who like procedural crime dramas, this one is a gem. I’m not a fan of the genre myself, but even I’m tuning in to watch Baker work his magic. In one hilarious scene, his character beats a guy at every turn of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Whether he does it by using his deductive reasoning, acute awareness, or his grafter skills, it makes no difference. You’ll be mesmerized.
Make no mistake: it’s Baker that sells this show. Without him, it would be just another ordinary run-of-the-mill procedural. It’s a shame, though, that he isn’t allowed to use his real Australian accent for the role. As delicious as his cool-as-a whisper voice is, it’s even better when he speaks in his native tongue.
The Mentalist has been incorrectly labeled online as being a Psych rip-off. Don’t believe what you read. The two shows couldn’t be more diverse in tone and character. Psych is practically a comedy, with its razor-sharp pop-culture references, witty fast-paced dialogue, and light-hearted storylines, while The Mentalist is a procedural crime drama — keyword drama — with dark elements and some light humor sprinkled throughout.
Jane’s character is on the hunt for a serial killer, Red John, who killed his family. In the same way we root for Monk to get justice for the death of his wife, we’ll be rooting for Jane, too, to track down his family’s killer. I’ve added The Mentalist to my DVR season pass; that’s how much I enjoyed the first two episodes.
The Mentalist faces tough timeslot competition, but it should prove a winner for CBS. If you’re a fan of procedural crime dramas, this is the one new show this season you shouldn’t miss. It doesn’t have the character depth yet of NYPD Blue or Monk, but it’s early, so give it time. I think audiences will be rooting for Patrick Jane, before they know it. I already am.