Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thoughts regarding the Mentalist

Source : 411mania.
Date : 07.13.2011
By Ben Piper

When I initially took over this column the first thing I wrote was a bunch of stuff regarding my thoughts and feelings regarding various season finales of different shows that I watch and enjoy. In the comments section of that first column someone asked why the hell I didn't write anything about the second season ending of The Mentalist. And as I made mention of it the next week in response, I didn't comment on it because up until that point I hadn't watched a single episode of the show previously. Stands to reason, no?

But that is no longer the case. While I am in no way entirely caught up the fact that TNT has begun airing back to back season one episodes onWednesdays has helped a great deal, while I have also been tuning in to season two repeat broadcasts on CBS. And I have to say, this is a very enjoyable if not always by the book procedural.

Aussie actor Simon Baker (whom I've only previously seen in a bit part in the great L.A. Confindential) plays Patrick Jane, a now admitted fake psychic whom uses his unusual skill set to help the fictional California Bureau of Investigations solve murders as a special consultant. What caused him to shift from swindler to crime fighter was the fact that he went out of his way to insult and insinuate he would help catch a notorious serial killer named Red John. Red John took great offense to this and killed Jane's wife and young daughter to cut the ‘psychic' down to size and teach him a modicum of humility.

What makes this show work first and foremost is Simon Baker and his portrayal as the titular character. He makes Jane playful, mischievous, mysterious, as well as being a deeply wounded and troubled soul. Jane is able to root out the heart of a situation just with simple and direct highly toned observational skills as well as a knack to decipher unconscious body language and basic human behavior. Well, and he's not above hypnotizing someone without their realizing it as he does so, even though that's expressly against the rules of a proper criminal investigation.

This often brings him into conflict with Lisbon, (Robin Tunney) the agent in charge of the team that he works with. She only continues to put up with this direct thinking out of the box jackass because he pretty much is right on the money a healthy percentage of the time. He helps close cases that they may often wouldn't have been able to do so without him being there. So while she tolerates him to a degree, she can't help but to also respect him for what he is capable of.

The supporting cast is also very solid. Although I have to wonder what the hell is up with Tim Kang's Cho character. The dude is an emotionless cipher of a cop thus far as much as I've seen. Both Van Pelt (very hot) and Rigsby (very likable and relatable) have personalities of their own. But this prick is just a cold and calculating cop doing his job. And while there's nothing wrong with that per se, while he is clearly the most professional by the book cop one should ever hope to see? There's a backstory there, that I've yet to witness, or has yet to be shown. Color me intrigued.

But what I really like is the fact that for most of the time this is a week to week whodunit where Jane pretty much closes each case by the end, the specter of Red John is always lingering in the background. That's Jane's windmill, his one true weakness. And everyone on the team knows it. To the point that when he tilts his focus in that direction, he's earned their respect enough that they are willing to follow him no matter the consequences.

So again, while I'm still not caught up (and still haven't seen the season 2 finale, which I hear is fantastic) I feel safe in saying that this is a great and highly enjoyable show. I'm in. Love it.

And yeah. Again while I haven't seen the season two finale, I feel safe in saying that Bradley Whitford wasn't Red John. Red Herring. Not over yet. Too easy. There's no way that they would end this juicy storyline this early. It's just another hoop for Jane to leap through.

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