Recommended: The Mentalist
The Mentalist was created by Bruno Heller and has recently finished its final season. The show follows Patrick Jane played by Simon Baker, a former ‘psychic’/con-man who becomes a consultant for the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation) after his wife and child are murdered by a serial killer. Much of the show is dedicated to Patrick’s search for his family’s killer who goes by the mantle Red John. The show is procedural with a different case for the team to solve each week. Other cast members include Robin Tunney as Teresa Lisbon, Tim Kang as Cho, Owain Yeoman as Rigsby and Amanda Righetti as Grace Van Pelt.
Patrick’s search for Red John is the driving point of the show and is certainly the most interesting element that the show has to offer. It also provides a great deal of sympathy for Patrick Jane as well as most of the emotional material as he is haunted by his past. The frequent misdirection and teases as to the identity of the serial killer are cool but could be frustrating if you don’t like that kind of thing and if that’s case then this probably isn’t the show for you. However, if you like a bit of detective work these are fun inclusions that leave you guessing as to the identity of the killer. Red John is also one of the few people who can outsmart Patrick which makes his investigation that bit more interesting than a simple criminal.
From the synopsis of the show you’d think this is a fairly dark show. Which it can be. But most of the time The Mentalist is actually light-hearted with the dynamic between the team providing much of the levity, whether it’s Cho’s no-nonsense, deadpan approach to life or Lisbon’s frequent exasperation at Patrick Jane’s unorthodox police work. Patrick is almost always the smartest person in the room and you quickly come to expect him to have worked out the identity of that week’s criminal before anyone else, often along with a plan to catch said criminal. His plans often involve tricking the antagonist into revealing his or herself in ways that are creative and entertaining. Simon Baker does a good job making Patrick confident and cocky but also charming and likeable. The light nature of the show makes it easy to sit down and watch without having any particular expectations.
As previously mentioned the week to week case’s aren’t particularly taxing on audiences which is both good and bad. Occasionally the cases become uninteresting or are too straight forward, it’s when the cases are in some way connected to Patrick’s search for Red John that the show really builds up a head of steam. Additionally, Patrick’s ‘shtick’ becomes a little tiresome in some episodes making the pursuit of that week’s criminal overly complicated. Nevertheless, the show’s positives outweigh its negatives with the character of Patrick Jane especially having surprising amounts of depth to him. While the supporting cast often aren’t as charismatic, they do have good chemistry on-screen particularly when Patrick is on-screen.
If you like procedural shows with a deeper running conflict in them then The Mentalist may well be the show for you. Unlike some shows that go on too long, The Mentalist’s hunt for Red John is over and the show finished so you don’t need to worry about never finding out the serial killer’s identity. Although the CBI’s cases can become a little predictable, Simon Baker’s portrayal of a man haunted by his past and desperate search for a sadistic killer is both entertaining and engaging. The show is fun and although not particularly unique is fairly consistent in its appeal with Baker’s performance elevating The Mentalist above most procedural shows.