The Husband:

I haven’t checked the ratings yet – actually, I don’t even think they’d be up only two days after its premiere – but I don’t see The Mentalist lasting very long. I don’t pretend to be a guru when it comes to how long a show will last (unless it’s either brilliant or very quirky, in which case there’s a 95% chance it will fail), but I know that I’m not very interested in seeing the rest of the season, and I feel others may agree with me either now or further down along the line.

I do appreciate the concept of the show, as the main character’s particular skill set – being so observant as a bureau consultant that he made a career as a psychic for years – is one that has a lot of potential. Sure, it’s similar to the cable sitcom Psych, but I think every concept deserves both a comedic and dramatic approach. Unfortunately, so far there is far too much wrong with The Mentalist.

Youre not wearing any underwear. I can tell, because Im extremely observant.

You're not wearing any underwear. I can tell, because I'm extremely observant.

Tone

Somebody forgot to give all the actors a memo, the one that said perhaps maybe you should inject some life into your characters. All of the actors, save for Amanda Righetti, simply sleepwalked through the pilot, as if their direction was “be dour.” There is no joy in this show, not even when main character Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) starts doing his whole “I’m a genius and I shall solve the crime simply with guess work, my wits and my ability to trick people into revealing their motives” thing.

Shows don’t have to be bright and peppy to be enjoyable, but even ones like Criminal Minds, Numb3rs and the CSI threefer have a great and pounding energy to them and aren’t afraid to be goofy every once in a while. Life’s too short to be humorless, and that’s what the Mentalist pilot was – humorless.

The Case

It’s difficult, in one hour, to introduce all the main characters and still have time to tell an effective story-of-the-week, but it’s not impossible. Not by any means. However, the central case of the pilot was completely irrelevant, far too easy and, basically, very boring.

Remember the pilot of Criminal Minds where Gideon had to track down a Seattle killer all while telling the story – which bled into the even better second episode – about how he profiled vicious killer Lukas Haas and defeated him using mere words? That didn’t ignore the episode’s plot, and tied the past and present together far better than The Mentalist did. (And hey, whenever Criminal Minds gets too grim, we always have Garcia to cheer us up with her awesomeness.)

Remember the pilot of Numb3rs when Charlie joined his brother’s team and calculated the whereabouts of a rapist? That first case told us everything we needed to know about the Eppes Brothers, had the guts to have the case nearly destroy the both of them, and it had its share of laughs.

Not here. Nope. I appreciate that the case tied directly into Jane’s past in re: his background with the infamous Red John killer, but it was so forced and, yes, dour, that all it did was inspire yawns.

Showkillers

Oh, hi, Amanda. I see youre here to kill my show.

Oh, hi, Amanda. I see you're here to kill my show.

Here’s where I get all observant about certain actors on this show. This show carries with it two separate showkillers, plus one semi-showkiller and another with very little TV under her belt.

A showkiller is someone like Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Day Break, The Inside) or Eric Balfour (Conviction, Sex Love & Secrets, Veritas), whose existence on a show will almost always spell doom for the series, usually during its first season. Both of the aforementioned have their exceptions to the rule (Baldwin on Chuck, Balfour not destroying Six Feet Under and 24 by leaving at the end of each show’s first season), but their track record ends up in the negative.

Here on The Mentalist, the two big showkillers are Amanda Righetti and Owain Yeoman.

Amanda Righetti

  • Lead ensemble on Fox’s Reunion. Canceled before it could even air all 13 filmed episodes, leaving the show’s central murder mystery unsolved.
  • Lead ensemble on Fox’s North Shore, a Hawaii-based show that didn’t last beyond its first season.
  • Recurring guest on Fox’s The O.C. Only around for 12 episodes and then never seen nor heard from again. Show plummets in quality after season 2.

Owain Yeoman

  • Lead ensemble on Fox’s Kitchen Confidential. Show aired three episodes, was pulled from the schedule, then had three episodes burned off months later, and then canceled outright without having all its episodes air.
  • Lead ensemble on ABC’s The Nine. Terrible show. Glad it’s gone. Never even got to finish its season.

Simon Baker himself has been the victim of cancellation (save for three seasons on The Guardian, which I never watched) with CBS’s Smith (3 episodes) and something called Heartbreak High, which lasted one season.

As far as Robin Tunney goes, she has been a regular on only one other TV show, Fox’s Prison Break, and she was murdered during the first episode of the second season.

Robin Tunney phones in her performance in this weeks episode of The Mentalist.

Robin Tunney phones in her performance in this week's episode of The Mentalist.

Final Judgment

Altogether, it doesn’t look good. Hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Simon Baker can draw them in. I like him in films quite a bit, especially the romantic drama Something New, but there are just too many procedurals on TV right now, and I would rather that viewers watch something great like the struggling NBC show Life in its second season than watch good actors look sad every week.

The Wife:

I was bored. I was really, really bored with this pilot. After about 19 minutes of this show — at which point I realized Owain Yeoman was not going to do anything more than grunt, show up in reaction shots and look nice in a suit — I realized that the pilot wasn’t going to get any better and that I would not be watching again after this 60 minutes was up.

I agree with my husband that the idea behind this show is essentially a good one, but watching a dude with really great powers of observation solve crimes is absolutely not why I watch procedurals. I like a procedural that has a lot of blood and guts and gore and horribly twisted crimes. That’s why I watch House, Bones and Criminal Minds. And I also like Numbers.

I like all of those shows because they’re built around interesting characters or, when the characters are a little less important as on Criminal Minds, the shows are built around some truly awesome crimes. I watch House and Numbers for the characters and their interactions. I love watching House destroy himself and be such a bastard to everyone around him. I love Hugh Laurie’s performance and I love watching how skillfully Broadway actor (and crush from my youth) Robert Sean Leonard can find ways to keep himself out of the episode as much as possible. Equally, I love watching the Eppes brothers on Numbers work together to solve crimes and put behind their differences in doing so to be brothers. I am a big fan of Krumholtz and will always watch him. (Also, Judd Hirsch as their father is awesome.)

Bones not only has interesting characters, but also truly grotesque model work and neat-o forensic science. While I think that Criminal Minds is lacking compared to these other three shows in terms of character development, it definitely has two characters I love: Matthew Gray Gubler’s Dr. Spencer Reed and Kristen Vangsness’ Penelope Garcia. It also has the absolute darkest stories each week, and I really appreciate that. In fact, I like Jeff Davis’ show so much that I even sing along to the theme song, which, by the way, has no words. That’s right, I sing the names of the actors.

The Mentalist, on the other hand, seems to have none of these things that I enjoy about my other procedurals. The characters are devoid of character, and what Simon Baker chooses to do to create something out of nothingness comes off as really creepy, to me, at least. And the Red John killer? That’s about as run-of-the-mill as you can get. Come on, CBS. I watch Criminal Minds. You’re not going to impress me with a dude who draws smiley faces in blood. I have seen people hunted for sport on your other, much better procedural.

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