The Mentalist- In which we learn not to let murder get in the way of making a sandwich.

 

First aired:23th September 2008

Cast (Main):

Simon Baker  – Patrick Jane

Robin Tunney   – Teresa Lisbon

Tim Kang – Kimball Cho

Owain Yeoman – Wayne Rigsby

Amanda Righetti – Grace Van Pelt

Synopsis: CBI Investigator Teresa Lisbon and consultant Patrick Jane arrive at a crime scene in California where a teenage girl has been killed, a suspect is in custody and a grieving set of parents are talking to the press.

Jane walks into the family’s kitchen, wanders around looking at things, starts to make a cup of tea and while the kettle boils, makes and eats a sandwich. The murdered girl’s mother walks in and Jane offers her the cup of tea. He asks why she suspects her husband of murdering their daughter. When said husband walks in and starts getting angry with this, Jane asks if he killed her, watching his reactions, even commenting after a minute or two that an innocent man would have punched him. The grieving wife, hears his denial and then goes to get a gun and in her grief and guilt over not seeing what has been happening shoots her husband and the police outside run in.

Two weeks later, a man and woman are murdered, the bodies being found by the woman’s husband and brother in law, somewhere else in California. The CBI are brought in, the full team this time, Agents Lisbon, Rigsby, Cho and new recruit Van Pelt, Jane is also there, trying to get back on the team. The husband was the killer after all and he is only on mandated leave. After going over Lisbon’s head, he is back in and is walked through the crime scene by an overly enthusiastic medical examiner. Everyone agrees this must be the work of serial killer Red John, Jane can’t stay away from that case, but see’s that this is simply a copycat killing, inaccurately staged to draw attention away from other motives. The victims in this case are a Alison Randolph, a golf pro’s wife and her primary physician Doctor Tannen.

The widower Price Randolph, his brother Tag and the doctor’s business partner, Dr Wagner are interviewed, Cho and Rigsby dealing with the golf pro and Jane and Lisbon dealing with Dr Wagner. At first it doesn’t seem to go anywhere, beyond learning that Alison was having an affair and in order to take a minute to regroup, the CBI team go to dinner.

Jane’s bluntness, his perceptive nature and a little bit of well meaning condescension make the whole thing an awkward affair and the team awkwardly make their way to hotel rooms for the night, where Jane has a letter supposedly from Red John slipped under his door. The note contains hair from Alison, mixed with one from Tag, causing uproar with the grieving Randolph brothers as it’s revealed that Tag was the one sleeping with Alison. After seeing that Jane hasn’t sleep, she makes an appointment for him with Dr Wagner and drops him off. At that meeting, Jane talks to the doctor, pretty much lying with every thing he says, but we start getting flashbacks of Jane’s previous life as a faux-medium, lying about having psychic powers to con people, making a pretty good living at it. When he slanders the serial killer Red John on TV, Red John responds by brutally murdering his wife and daughter, leaving them to be found by Jane.

After lying consistently, Jane leaves Dr Wagner’s office, giving him the impression that Dr Tannen kept a diary, then sneaks back in, finding Dr Wagner searching for it. Realising that he’s been caught out, Wagner pulls a gun on Jane, villain-splaining that he did it to protect the practice he was embezzling from, so that the money they sent to Africa to build clinics to save children over there didn’t stop. Jane makes a run for it and is met by Rigsby, who arrests Wagner.

The team are less than impressed with Jane, realising quickly that he suspected Wagner earlier and they demolished the Randolph family for no reason at all due to Jane’s whims and need for drama. He charms Lisbon with a jumping origami frog and goes home to his empty of furniture house and tries to sleep on a single mattress he has in the room where he found his family.

Notes: It’s another procedural is one being detective based, there’s a lot of them, so each one has to make it self distinct, whether it has a scientific leaning or something more personality based, this one is unusual in that it’s lead was a con artist. He made a good living at pretending to be a medium, based on his being able to pay attention to the world around him and cold reading people very easily. He suffers a tragedy and is both humbled and tortured by it, so he’s not like any of the other TV detectives out there. On the positive side, this creates conflict and interesting dialogue, on the negative side it means that a lot of the show’s heavy lifting is left to the performance of it’s lead, despite it being something of an ensemble show.

So how does the lead manage with that? To be honest, quite well. Simon Baker is charming, but never to the point of being very likeable. He is playing a broken and tortured man, he’s lost everything and all he wants is revenge and a reason to get out of bed in the morning, all that is under an affable veneer. No one knows how to take him, but he skewers all them with his insights. Is this a good introduction to Jane? Yes, the opening scene showcases his talents and charm effectively. His delivery of “an innocent man would have punched me by now” is perfect mix of honest insight and dimissive snark. The problem is that it isn’t really a good episode of television in itself. Yes we get to know Jane, but what about Lisbon? Rigsby, Van Pelt and Cho are also pretty marginalised to service a barebones plot and the whole show suffers.

I wanted this to be a better showcase of the show’s premise and cast and it just wasn’t, it was a script designed to showcase a character, not a show.

Verdict:

Does it work?  Not really,by not giving us much of the cast in action, we’re not given any hooks with them, beyond what is pointed out by Jane.

Does much need fixing? Yes, more of the supporting cast.

Does it stand up? Yes, but barely.

Do I want to watch the next one? Yes, again with a but, I needed to give it a chance to deliver an actual show.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, for the most part.

Overall: A shaky 3 out of 5, I wanted so much to like this show better. You can build a show around one guy, but you do have to build the show.

Published by Munky

Liverpool based family man and unrepentant geek, trying to understand what's going on in my own head, which is not always being a good place to be. Remember always, we live in a world of wonders.

One thought on “The Mentalist- In which we learn not to let murder get in the way of making a sandwich.

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