Last Night’s TV – The Mentalist


Well, this new cop show on Five has me baffled; I want to dislike it because it’s clichéd, it’s predictable, the acting is horrifically overdone and it’s kind of a rip-off of several other shows, but nonetheless, the rather studly Simon Baker who plays The Mentalist, Patrick Jane, brings something to the show that I can’t quite put my finger on and the fact is, I still want to watch it next week but I’m not sure why I do…

In a nutshell, Patrick used to make a very good living as a fake psychic but he’s stopped doing that now and uses his talent for “observing” people to help the California Bureau of Investigation solve crimes. The overall impression is that the CBI use him as a consultant because he gets results, but only reluctantly… he’s too ‘slippery’ for their liking but they can’t deny he’s brilliant at what he does.

That said, his lady boss clearly has a ‘thing’ for him – and I don’t blame her; he’s pretty – but of course, she’d sooner cut her own arm off than tell him so… which is just one of the many clichés in the show.

In last night’s pilot episode, we first saw him at a crime scene; a young girl had been murdered and then later, at a press conference, he immediately homed in on the girl’s mother and instantly gained her trust by saying confidently, “You really only pretend to like skiing” and, “You love India, but you’ve never been there” followed in short order by, “You think your husband killed your daughter” and “Your favourite colour is blue”

The slack-jawed Mommy stared at him and exclaimed, “You’re psychic?!” to which he coolly replied, “No, just paying attention.”

So this was how we were introduced, but the main focus was that Patrick was helping the CBI hunt down a serial killer they’ve called ‘Red John’. He goes around killing in a very nasty manner then paints smiley faces on the walls of wherever he’s killed his victims using their blood.

It was this killer who murdered Patrick’s own wife and daughter, hence why he’s ‘damaged’ and reformed from his old lying ways and wants this killer caught more than anyone. The killer picked on his family because Patrick lied on his TV show and hinted that his psychic abilities had given him a few clues as to who the killer was… so the killer taught him a very harsh lesson in telling porkies.

He’s very much a sleight of hand, trick of the eye type bloke with issues… think Derren Brown, Penn & Teller, Dexter, CSI, Columbo and Psych rolled into one show and one character and you’ll have a clue about who and what The Mentalist is.

Patrick’s still got a bit of the con-artist in him but now, he uses it to good effect. He’s highly intelligent and very charming but even though we got explanations eventually of what it was the put him onto whodunit last night, it was all just a tad too convenient.

It was sort of, “I knew he was the killer because he touched his ear twice and turned his head to the left and he drinks coffee while wearing Italian leather shoes…”

As it transpired, the killer of the victims in last night’s show wasn’t Red John at all, and Patrick knew this from the get-go but the CBI took some convincing, of course. Again, clichéd and predictable; they only really believed him when he actually turned up with the goods in the form of a loony doctor who was the real killer of those particular victims.

So why do I still want to tune in next week when the dialogue was clichéd, the overacting was horrendous and the convenient way the cases get solved and explained was totally unconvincing…

I dunno but I definitely will be!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.