Happiness is Simon Baker’s smile.
When The Mentalist star flashes his pearly whites as Patrick Jane, he lights up the screen. The series is a procedural cop show with an overarching story, in which Jane tries to catch Red John, the serial killer who murdered Jane’s wife and daughter.
Jane’s part of the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), so they take cases all over the state. As a bonus, because of that, I’m familiarizing myself with a lot of places I haven’t heard of before.
It differs from other mystery shows because of its central character. Jane is a quirky guy who can adeptly read people and decipher crime scenes. Some people even go so far as to call him a psychic. He can tell what job you have just by looking at you (deciphering) and he also drinks a lot of tea (quirk).
Many funny moments arise from Jane’s antics; hypnosis is no exception. Here’s an example of the show’s sense of humor:
However, in later episodes, those same antics become annoying at times. Occasionally, to catch the killer, Jane will frame and arrest an innocent person to make the real perpetrator confess.
At least once, he did it with the fake suspect’s permission, which is fine. But, it becomes completely unnecessary and frustrating in other episodes when he doesn’t let other people in on his plans, especially since he could use all that wit to nab the real suspect in a better way.
The rest of the team are Agent Lisbon (Robin Tunney from The Craft), Agent Cho (Tim Kang), Agent Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti), and Agent Rigsby (Owain Yeoman). Baker and Tunney are standout actors; plus, Tunney just has that X factor.
To keep you watching, the writers have also thrown in romantic story lines between Van Pelt and Rigsby as well as Jane and Lisbon. However, I hope they keep Jane and Lisbon as friends.
And if the writers could take out or cut down the interrogation parts, that would help because it’s almost always the weakest and most boring scene. The depth and cleverness of the writing is constantly improving though—not that it was ever bad.
In fact, starting with the first season is a good idea. It’s especially charming, as compared to later seasons, which are more of a balance between the dark and light elements.
As an aside, my favorite episode so far is S03E14 – Blood for Blood. It’s one of those where you’re genuinely surprised about who the killer is, and it gives Van Pelt a chance to shine in an empowering way. The last scene is also thought provoking, and the very last line speaks volumes and makes you chuckle—I laughed out loud.
GUEST (STAR) LIST
In addition, there’s a myriad of guest stars, someone for every fan. The credits include Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Michael Trevino (The Vampire Diaries), Reed Diamond (Journeyman), Michael McGrady (Southland), Morena Baccarin (Firefly), and J. August Richards (Angel), just to name a few. Keyword: few.
As a Joss Whedon fan, I hope more alums of his shows guest star in more prominent roles on The Mentalist, which would also attract other Whedonites (or whatever we’re called). How awesome would it be if James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) played the real Red John? I’m throwing down the gauntlet!
The Mentalist season 4 is currently airing in the U.S.