The Mentalist Pilot: Not so bad... but not so good.

After shunning CBS's new drama, The Mentalist to SideReel's fall preview list of What's Lookin' Bad, I figured I should at least give the pilot a chance to see if it lived up to its lame and dull-looking previews or if it actually has something to offer.


The pilot proved to be better than I expected from the promos, but it also didn't hit me as a great new show.


I haven't watched Psych, but many fans were noting that this seemed to be Psych, but not funny since The Mentalist is about a psychic detective. But the fact is, it's not really.


The Mentalist features Patrick Jane, an contract detective working with the California Bureau of Investigation who... wait for it... used to PRETEND to be a psychic. So, clearly, entirely different... right?


So the "big" secret/drive of the show kind of unveiled in the pilot is that Jane used to use his intuition and excellent observational skills to fake being a psychic who helped people connect with their lost loved ones, and worked on figuring out crimes which he spoke about on a talk show.


Then, as we discover through a flashback as Jane's in the middle of solving the crime of the week, the killer he was discussing and faking figuring out, "Red John," came after Jane's family, killing his wife and child leaving a note behind that he did not appreciate being slandered in the media - and if Jane were really a psychic, he wouldn't have to open that door to find out what he'd done to Jane's wife and child.


Creepy and awful - yet not a hook, line, and sinker moment like I think it was supposed to be. So we get that Jane was severely and inappropriately punished for his faking and is now on the war path (without telling anyone about his family), to capture this Red John.


This sounds like a decent set-up for the show, and the plot came across as more interesting and dramatic than I'd expected, but Patrick Jane came across just as I did expect - disconnected, cocky, and not likable despite his dashing looks.


The fact is, we already have Life from last season which has a different plot path, but is slightly similar in that the main character is on the path to discover the real criminal for a crime that had effected him very personally as well.


And Life is awesome. Why? Because the main character, Charlie Crews, is completely fascinating. I think The Mentalist is going for something similar with Jane in that the main character is this troubled man who had the good life taken away from him so now he's changed and haunted.


But Jane doesn't come across as brooding yet accessible like Charlie does - instead, he's creepily not troubled as you would imagine of a man whose family was murdered. I don't feel as if Jane is one of those closed-off characters we can get and be intrigued by (like Charlie Crews or House), but instead one we just won't care about, and that is exactly what makes or breaks a show - and in this case, seems like it will break it.


Maybe crime show fans unlike myself will find this show much more enjoyable than I did, but for me, well, I'm sticking to last season's fantastic newbie of Life and leaving this one to the CBS crime drama crowd if they'll have it.


Photo courtesy of about.com

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Sep 24, 2008 2:56PM EDT

Rather than saying this show's premise is a primarily psych-esque one, I kept having flashbacks to Profiler, a tv crime drama from the late 90's. In Profiler, Dr. Sam Waters' is targeted by a serial killer named "Jack." Jack kills her husband and Sam comes home to find the clues that lead her to know exactly what to find in the next room (her husband's dead body.) This exchange creates an odd personal connection between the two where she is the only one to have the skill to catch him, and he is playing up just for her. Isn't "Red John's" relationship with Jane eerily similar? The originality in any aspect of this show is sorely lacking for me.

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Sep 24, 2008 10:46PM EDT

I hated it. Watch NCIS then turn to anything else. This show is not worth your time.

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Oct 4, 2008 4:04AM EDT

i must be the only one that likes shows that seem to get axed before given a chance americans seem to be a fickle lot they get an idea for a show then axe it cant understand what sort of show they want

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Oct 9, 2008 2:08PM EDT

I loved the show! I think it is really entertaining and I really like the idea, even though it might be similar to others. I am really looking forward to the next episodes.The way "The Mentalist" solves his crimes is amazing, but truly highly unlikely. That's the catch though, TV doesn't have to be realistic to be fun to watch!

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Oct 11, 2008 9:39AM EDT

I think Kendra touched the main point of why this show has a problem, Robert Jane and the writing for him.
I personally dont care if they took a bit of Psych, which is obvious, combined with some parts of the Profiler, which is obvious as well. Its like in music nowadays, everything is recycled anyhow.
The point is, it doesnt feel as if Robert Jane is IN the role, he is distant, cold and his actions dont seem to make sense. He is good looking, obviously, but sometimes this isnt enough to pull of a show.
Charlie Crews in Life on the other hand portrays what a troubled character in a crime show should be like, he is interesting, very smart, believable, specially when he gets agressive (understandable after what he has been going trough) and does irrational things.
I watched both episodes of The Mentalist and I am still waiting to understand why they have this whole investigation team with him, when he is solving all thoses cases by himself anyway. The other actors look like extras, expendable.
I thought with the story of the murdered family as a brutal lesson from Red John, there would have been plenty of inner fights for Patrick Janes character to be distracted from, to leave him as a broken man, to make him feel hate or to make him beeing on the desperate hunt for Red John, but so far nothing really shows that this guy is troubled. What a waste of a good story idea.
Sorry, Ill stick with Life, the show is way more smart and intriguing.

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