The Mentalist is the awesome television show by British writer Bruno Heller. It is a procedural which follows Detective Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) at his job as consultant for the Serious Crimes Unit at the fictional California Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Jane’s ‘mind reading’ mentalistic approach to catching killers is unconventional, and often unethical. This causes tension between him and his by-the-book Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney). The rest of the team includes Agents Kimball Cho (Tim Kang), Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti).
With his quick smile, easy charm, and ruthless wit, no suspect is safe from Jane’s telling observations. But this seemingly easy-going man has a serious, entirely personal agenda for working at the CBI.
This show combines all my favorite elements together. It is a crime show with an interesting premise, unique characters, smart writing, and plenty of character development and interaction. It is also as funny as it is clever.
Then there is the acting. Simon Baker is charismatic beyond words, which coupled with his good looks and charm makes for an irresistible protagonist. His flamboyant presence is grounded by Tunney’s quiet projection of her character’s inner strength and cool exterior. The Yin to his Yang, these two are comrades despite whatever differences they may have.
This camaraderie extends to the rest of the team as well. The sharp Agent Cho and dependable Agent Rigsby are obvious friend’s despite the former’s terse demeanor. And the team rookie Agent Van Pelt is obviously a welcome addition to the team, especially to Agent Rigsby.
Another good aspect in the show exists within the supporting actors/guest stars. In The Mentalist, the characters are usually memorable and the casting is obviously done carefully; not something all TV series bother with.
But perhaps the most unique aspect of the show is its subtlety. Despite Jane’s surprisingly unprofessional methods, the show itself never goes for cheap shock value in its storylines or script; a rare quality to find these days in television. It relies purely on solid good writing and acting. It is classy. It is a series I can enjoy, and often do, with my family. In fact, I am proud to say I’ve gotten several family members hooked on Patrick Jane’s antics.
But with all this praise, there is one problem I noticed. There are some inconsistencies in the editing; like an actor would be standing one place in one scene then disappears in the next. Also, some wardrobe malfunctions. A suit in one scene, an entirely different one in the next for no reason, etc. But I’m just nitpicking. Mr. Heller, thank you for proving that good television does exist. I salute you from Kuwait.
I’ll eventually have an individual category for The Mentalist where I will be reviewing episodes individually. Yes, it is that good.