I've been meaning to write this review for a couple of weeks now but keep on getting sidetracked with other stuff.
Last year Mr Click got me the first five series of The Mentalist, starring
Simon Baker and Robin Tunney. It's your standard American police procedural
series, focusing on a team in the California Bureau of Investigation (aka CBI),
headed by Tunney's Teresa Lisbon. Baker plays Patrick Jane, a 'mentalist' who
consults for the Bureau. In a past life he was a conman who made his money by
pretending to be psychic, instead he's got Holmesian powers of deduction and is
very good at reading people.
Unfortunately for Jane, he once made some disparaging comments about a serial
killer known only as Red John. Red John proceeded to kill Jane's wife and child,
leading Jane to give up the sham-psychic life and instead turn consultant to law
enforcement in the hopes that he will eventually be able to capture and kill Red
Unlike the previous series we were watching (Criminal Minds) this wasn't all
new to me. I'd watched pretty much all of the first series and I think most of
the second as well. Mr Click had seen odd episodes from the second series
because I realised (correctly) that it would be right up his street, but since
at that time we were watching it on Sky we just watched them as they aired. He
enjoyed them, but not knowing all the backstory to the characters meant he
missed out on lots of the main story arc.
Patrick Jane really is a Holmes-type character; he's very skilled at reading
people, the way they act, the things they say, the things that they don't do but
should; he puts together all the little clues from their surroundings and comes
to conclusions which might seem like giant leaps if you didn't understand the
stepping stones he goes through to get there. Sound familiar? He even has an
addiction, if you can call his obsession with getting revenge an addiction.
He's also completely unorthodox. Jane has no problems ignoring the rules, not
telling his colleagues what he's doing, or setting them up to do something while
allows a sequence of events to bring a murderer to light. He's reckless and
sometimes it's cringe-worthy because you know that anyone doing that sort of
thing in real life would be shown the door faster than anything. But it's TV so
The series has a good sense of humour, which I like. The characters in
Lisbon's team are colleagues but also friends (or in the case of Rigsby and Van
Pelt, on/off lovers). I'm not constantly round the houses of my colleagues, but
we meet up outside of work, we chat on Facebook, we do stuff. I know not
everyone has that kind of relationship with the people they work with, but lots
of people do so I always feel like it's more real when you see teams in TV
series actually doing stuff together (it also makes it a little less weird when
they get married and the only people they invite to the wedding are the people
they work with, I'm looking at you ER).
There's enough there for my little shippy heart to grasp onto as well. I was
well aware of the thing between Rigsby and Van Pelt from watching the earlier
series before. I love how that little relationship has played out. One that took
me by surprise has been the growing relationship between Lisbon and Jane. The
way it's gradually being developed makes it feel perfectly right and almost
I like that you're able to try and solve the crime as you watch as well. It's
one of my favourite things about these types of, otherwise often dark and
gruesome, series. It's what hooked me into CSI and has kept me looking out and
watching these programmes ever since. Some deliberately don't give you enough to
go with, but The Mentalist nudges you along with the occasional red herring for
Speaking of red herrings, I love the episode titles. They all feature a word
which relates to the colour red and are usually quite punny. Also, I suspect
that there's a Douglas Adams fan on the writing staff somewhere because one is
titled 'So Long And Thanks For All The Red Snapper'.
As far as I'm aware, there are another two series after the point we've
watched up to. I'm glad that it's not been dragged out beyond its shelf-life. As
a series like this goes on you can start getting a little fatigued by it and
I'll admit, by series five I was wondering how much longer they could make the
Red John thing last. I've read some spoilers about what happens next and it
looks like they've taken the series in the right direction.
In a series where the main story arc relies on the relationship between one
man and an unknown serial killer, it's going to reach a point where it becomes
repetitive or unbelievable. I think The Mentalist skirts that boundary line
occasionally but doesn't actually cross it. I'm looking forward to getting the
final two series at some point to see just what happens next.
And as I mentioned the other week, we're now watching Elementary, which feels
like a natural follow on from The Mentalist. Sherlock Holmes and Patrick Jane
have an awful lot in common.