The Husband:

While we, the children of Saint Clare, have found the time to write about many of the biggest shows on television (and even some small ones), there is only so much time and energy we can spend on this site. The truth is, we watch a whole lot more than what ends up on the site, and since I watch most of these on my own and yet never find the ability to write about them, their absence is mostly my fault. But no matter. For those that fall through the cracks, I have here a grab bag of the 30+ shows I watch in addition to whatever ends up on the site. These are the ones that slipped through the cracks. And hell, I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting (and also not even bothering writing about, which tend to fall under instructional/educational stuff like anything on Discovery), so if you think I’ve forgotten something, please let me know. (And no, I don’t watch any CSI or L&O shows, so don’t even try to get all up in my grill.) Here they are, the missing shows of the 2008-2009 television season, in alphabetical order.

24

I really should have written at least some criticism on this season, but work piled up and I simply didn’t have the time. It started off as the most intelligent season with some of the most compelling political questions being thrown around (welcome to the show finally, “debate on torture”), but by the fourth time Tony twisted his alliance and Jack was infected with the disease, I kind of stopped caring. Great first half of the season, though, and I think Renee is the best new character in a very long time.

Adult Swim (Xavier: Renegade Angel / Superjail! / Squidbillies / The Drinky Crow Show / Metalocalypse / Delocated / Robot Chicken / Etc.)

Thank you, young people of Adult Swim (who I have spent some time with, don’t forget) for freaking my mind week after week, and giving alternative comedy a major boost in America. And for freaking out my wife.

A beacon of normalcy in a world of wackiness.

A beacon of normalcy in a world of wackiness.

Better Off Ted

It took me a couple episodes to latch onto the tone, but once I did I simply couldn’t get enough from this latest product of the mad mind of Victor Fresco. Check out some episodes online, then watch Andy Richter Controls the Universe (his previous show), and I guarantee you some of the oddest network comedy in a very long time. I still think Portia DeRossi is trying to hard, though, and should take a page from the book of Fresco mainstay Jonathan Slavin.

Castle

Bring it on, Nathan Fillion. Hypnotize me with your nostrils and your addictive but borderline-stupid mystery writer-cum-detective series. (Although how weird was that Judy Reyes episode? What the hell, Carla Turk?)

The Celebrity Apprentice 2

So sue me, I liked Joan Rivers. And the addition of the phrase “Whore Pit Vipers” to the television lexicon.

Celebrity Rehab (Sober House) with Dr. Drew

So help me, I can’t stop watching. It’s just a disaster. I will say, though, that I like the drama in the rehab far more than the sober house, as the latter seems to exist simply to destroy any progress the celebrities made in rehab. And now having seen all three of his seasons of Taxi, Jeff Conaway’s fall from grace is fishbowl television at its finest.

Dating in the Dark

Really fun, actually. I hope it gets a second season. I also hope that more matches will be made, and that people stop being massive failures.

Dirty Sexy Money

Everything I needed to say about the failure of the second season of this show can be found on this blog, and it ended its truncated run by turning itself inside-out by revealing that the show’s central mystery, who killed Peter Krause’s father, was a bust since he wasn’t dead after all. What the hell, Dirty Sexy Money? Oh well, your cancellation made room in Krause’s schedule for the much anticipated (by me) adaptation of Parenthood coming to NBC mid-season.

The Goode Family

It took a few episodes to find its footing, but by the end of its sped-up summer run, I was a major fan of the latest Mike Judge effort. (R.I.P. King of the Hill.) Vastly misunderstood by viewers who only watched the first episode, it, just like KOTH, found a middle ground between conservative America and liberal America and found the ability to make fun of both without drawing blood, choosing to love instead of hate. Some of the voice cast was misused (why was my beloved Linda Cardellini in the cast?), but as a Berkeley native, I had a blast relishing in mocking the stereotypes of my own people while rediscovering what it is I love so much about them. The bull dykes were also two of the most original characters of the season.

One Earth isn't just a grocery store, it's a way of life.

One Earth isn't just a grocery store, it's a way of life.

The Great American Road Trip

Any show that has two contestants debating over which is more correct, “y’all” or “youse,” gets major points in my book. A nice and forgettable summer trifle after a long, way-too-hot day. Silly, yes, but I can’t say it was bad. And it was a definite improvement over the similar family-based season of The Amazing Race. (I’m sure The Soup is really grateful for this show, too.)

Heroes

Oh god, kill me now. Volume 4 was a marked improvement over #3, for sure, but I just don’t care about anybody anymore. And yet I feel that I need to keep watching. It’s too late to give up now. There was one great episode this season, though, and that was the flashback one surrounding Angela Petrelli’s stint at a mutant internment camp. Why can’t they all be this good?

Howie Do It

Yeah, I watched it. Shut the fuck up. About one-third of it was funny, and as I watched it on Hulu at work, it’s not like I wasted any of my own time. Howie Mandel is savvier than you think, but I wish he would return to his wilder roots.

How’s Your News

This Parker-Stone produced MTV show revolving around reporters who are developmentally delayed confused the hell out of me initially, but once I realized there wasn’t a mean bone in its body it became a warm bit of fun. I want a second season, dammit. These are some of the most joyful television subjects I’ve ever seen.

I Survived a Japanese Game Show

Better than the first season, but I’m still glad I only watch this online while doing something else.

In the Motherhood

Worst opening credit sequence of the year. Some pretty funny material hidden underneath unfunny slapstick. Horatio Sanz got thin. Megan Mullally couldn’t find a rhythm. I still think Cheryl Hines is oddly hot.

Lie to Me

I unfortunately didn’t start watching this until July, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. While gimmicky to a fault and not nearly as intelligent as it pretends it is, this Tim Roth vehicle about an FBI specialist who studies the subtleties of the face (OF THE FACE) is clever, compelling and well drawn. I’m not sure about the addition of Mekhi Phifer’s character, but we’ll see how it works out next season, especially with Shield creator Shawn Ryan at the helm of season two.

Life

This cancellation reallllly hurts. One of the unsung gems from the 2007-2008 television, this, the smartest network cop show in recent memory, took its great season one energy and hit the second season with all it had and came up with a compelling, hilarious, devilishly clever and gleefully violent run that was only marred by a major cast shift during the final few episodes. (I’m looking at you, Gabrielle Union. Your presence was what I like to call a massive failure.) A Zen-obsessed cop recently released from prison after serving over a decade for a murder he did not commit, this show had the best cases of them all. It also gave me one of my favorite hours of television of the year in an episode that revolved around a seductive assassin, fertilizer and pigeon aficionados. And at least the major serialized storyline (who framed Damien Lewis and why) got paid off in a major way thanks to the ever-reliable Garret Dillahunt.

lifeshot

My Boys

Putting PJ and Bobby together was a great idea, but your nine-episode seasons are too short to gain any momentum, and the spring training season finale was a bust.

Nitro Circus

Moronic glee.

Numb3rs

Man, did they put Charlie through the ringer. First, he nearly gets his brother killed with a miscalculation on his part, he questions his own validity as a mathematician and then Amita gets kidnapped just as he decides that he wants to marry her. Otherwise, another fine, if somewhat uneventful, of this show that never captured the glory of its über-nerdy first season. Also, thanks for all the great guest star work, but sometimes it gets laid on a little too thick, such as in “Sneakerhead” which brought together Bruno Campos, Patrick Bauchau, Dr. Edison from Bones and Eve. (And points for making the Liz Warner character actually bearable. I fucking hated her in season 4.

Privileged

So apparently the CW thought that their best idea ever was to get rid of this show, the smartest show on the UPN/WB merger since the Buffyverse, one that was technically pulling in bigger numbers than 90210, one that was a delight to watch and deeply addictive, and make room for what is sure to be one of 2009-2010’s worst new offerings, Melrose Place. I gotta tell ya, this cancellation hurts. While I wrote recaps and reviews of the episodes way into its freshman (and only) season, the looming axe, as well as a more heavily serialized structure, turned me off from writing on the final stretch of episodes, and I told myself that I’d only recap them if the show came back. Lo and behold, another Joanna Garcia vehicle has gone down the tubes. I’ll miss you oh so dearly, Ms. Too-Smart-For-The-CW Palm Beach satirical melodrama known as Privileged.

I hate to say this, guys, but I think Robert Buckley might be a showkiller. And that's sad, because he's so damn pretty.

I hate to say this, guys, but I think Robert Buckley might be a showkiller. And that's sad, because he's so damn pretty.

Rescue Me

I thought it was a great season, and thanks to an extended number of episodes (it didn’t air in 2008 thanks to the writer’s strike), the show was able to focus much of its energy on pages-long dialogue-happy battle-of-wits in nearly episode, which to be is melodrama heaven. Gone is the maudlin tone, returned is all the comic energy, and the stories seem to actually progress instead of just flopping around like a dying fish. Leary and Tolan deserve major praise for bringing the show back up to snuff. And now having seen all of Newsradio, I love any chance I get to watch Maura Tierney, although I’m still not going to watch ER. (I am proud to have only seen three episodes of that show ever, being a Chicago Hope fan.) Special shot-out to the Sean cancer storyline, if only to allow Broadway actor Steven Pasquale (husband of Tony winner Laura Benanti) the opportunity to belt out some songs in a handful of hallucination scenes.

Samantha Who?

One of the biggest upsets of the last two years was the rise and fall of this light-hearted, occasionally gut-busting amnesia sitcom that started off the talk of the town, only to waste away its final episodes after the conclusion of the actual television season. Ending on a shitty cliffhanger (Sam’s parents are getting divorced, so Mom is going to live with you and your formerly-estranged-but-now-love-of-your-life lover), we nevertheless found out who caused the accident that brought about Sam’s amnesia, Jennifer Esposito finally made it with the towel boy, and Melissa McCarthy continued to be one of the brightest stars of the year.

Scrubs

Like Privileged, I hesitated to continue writing due to the threat of its cancellation, but now it’s continuing on into yet another season (albeit with some major changes), so I really have no reason to stop writing about it. But let’s just say that while the hurry-up to conclude its many disparate storylines often felt rushed (those two Bahama episodes felt especially odd), the conclusion to J.D.’s years-in-the-telling tale was a lovely way to conclude the season. (No props for the awful awful Peter Gabriel song that accompanied his final walk down the hallway, as laughably bad as it was when I heard it in the remake of Shall We Dance?)

The Shield

I don’t have to tell you how amazing the final season was. Watch it. Seriously. You owe it to yourself to experience one of the hardest hitting cop shows of all time. Like The Wire, a Greek tragedy hammered into modern-day policework with some of the most finely drawn characters around. And oh man, did those final three episodes pack a major punch. Ouch, indeed.

Southland

Quite a bit like The Shield, really, had it followed Michael Jace’s beat cop instead of the Strike Team. A little too dour at times for me to really give a crap, and the sprawling ensemble needs to be cut down (which is what I hear it’s doing for the second season), but this L.A.-centered procedural has a lot going for it, not least of which its pitch-perfect direction. (I especially dig the long shots, including my favorite, which involved a cabin and a K9 unit bringing down a perp.)

Way better than dating Marissa Cooper.

Way better than dating Marissa Cooper.

Surviving Suburbia

A sitcom in serious need of finding one tone and sticking with it, this sometimes-sweet-sometimes-brutally-cruel suburban comedy worked as well as it did because of Saget as well as G. Hannelius’ performance as the precocious daughter. Still, all the jokes about disabled people, pregnant teenagers and strip clubs really didn’t mesh together with the clichés of the genre.

Survivor: Tocantins

I love Survivor, but this was one of the most boring seasons in its ten-year run. I don’t think I gave a shit about one person, and I simply couldn’t find anything compelling to write about. A waste of a good location.

True Beauty

The right person won, the losers got (mostly) schooled in this trick show designed to expose the douchery involved in modeling, Ashton Kutcher made another heroin-like show, and I concern myself for months with how they can pull the trick off a second time in the next season.

The Unusuals

When grading a cop show, I tend to focus on three things — the tone, the characters and the cases. A bizarre, pessimistic yet comedic take on all those wacky cops we’ve seen throughout the years all thrown together (one is deathly afraid of…death, one has a brain tumor, one talks in the third person, one is a closeted socialite, etc.) pushed into some remarkably dark territory, The Unusuals had tone and characters down pat, but suffered at the hands of some DOA storylines. But oh man, did the tone ever make up for most of the show’s shortcomings. Great ensemble cast, too, although I would have recast Eddie Alvarez.

Rather unusual.

Rather unusual.

Worst Week

A breezy and often hilarious slapstick comedy based off of a British hit, it could never regain its momentum after moving away from the initial “week” of the title. Kyle Bornheimer is a true find and made the more unbearable misunderstandings and embarrassing moments of the show (of which there were many) all the more palatable. I’m not the biggest fan of comedy based around humiliations, but this show found a likeable ability to have its characters not completely despise each other at every moment. This was, to say the least, very refreshing. Big points for giving me the biggest network TV laugh of the year (when Bornheimer wakes up his brother-in-law only to be thought a murderer) but major negative points for pushing back a major character-based episode into a weekend spot months after the show had already ended its run.

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The Husband:

We hit a hiatus, y’all, with this here Shonda Rhimes Land, a world of moral quandaries, career-threatening neuroses and, basically, patients behaving right on the edge between extreme human behavior and outright lunacy. Would we want it any other way?

I don’t know if it was the break, or the fact that I watched Grey’s Anatomy on a Friday night after a very long and confusing week at work, but I had an extremely tough time re-entering any of the various stories tossed my way. Every once in a while, something happens with a show like this or, say, Numb3rs or Criminal Minds or Castle, where things get so repetitive, in dialogue and/or stories, that I will catch myself near the end of a scene literally being unable to understand words that are coming out of the actors’ mouths, as if they aren’t saying words but are actually droning “manananananananabloobloobloo” on and on. At least with Criminal Minds, the show is so fast that if I come across one of these scenes, I only need to wait a few more seconds and the BAU team will be in a completely different location staring at some other unsub. But with this week’s GA, there were at least five scenes of brain gibberish, and I draw the line at three. The silly feud between Derek and Mark, especially, devolved into gibberish, as I stopped listening once they were bickering over an open body during surgery. Good one, guys.

And it’s not like the director was making sure I gave a shit, either, because he took a scene that could have been harrowing (a suicidal patient running amok in the hospital, and then running through a window and smashing the car below him) and made it the funniest scene of the week via godawful special effects, rendering what should have been a great stunt into a digital mess that clearly involved no actual human beings. Even the glass breaking was fake. Really? You can’t afford some goddamn candy glass? I can give you an actual address if you need some.

Haaaaaave . . . you met my lesbian lover?

Haaaaaave . . . you met my lesbian lover?

The only story that seemed to really be worth a damn this week was the reappearance of Hector Elizondo as Callie’s father. There to give George a piece of his mind for cheating on his daughter and thus ensuring their divorce, he is surprised to learn that while, yes, Callie has found a new partner, she is now a raging lesbian, going to town on Jessica Capshaw’s Arizona. This devolves into a Spanish language shouting match, as Hector gives his daughter an ultimatum – come home to Miami and do your practice there, or your gigantic trust fund is completely gone. Callie’s decision is tougher than one would expect, as her father has 100% paid for her entire education and has ensured that she would focus entirely on her career and never have to scrounge for cash. He even tries to bribe the Chief with a generous donation in order to remove Callie from Seattle Grace. But Callie’s a grown woman now, and no old-fashioned, archaic bigotry is going to let her give up somebody she truly loves.

At least on Private Practice, I was thrown some shameless ethical dilemmas. How big of a deal is it that a female high school teacher starts banging a 17-year-old student only a month away from becoming an adult? Hell, at least the dude wasn’t 14. What was the problem with this arrangement was that she was giving her lover some of the medication Sam prescribed for her, and said medication had a terrible effect on the boy/man, as he was allergic to sulfa. And as my wife is allergic to sulfa, I now have a general understanding of what external symptoms would arise if she was accidentally given it. Technically, she doesn’t have whatever disorder the dude had, but that was still a narsty enough rash all over his neck and chest that I will make sure to be very clear with any doctor in the future should my wife ever need to go to the emergency room, jeebus forbid.

(Wife’s note: Yes, I have had that nasty rash more than once as a child. It’s totally unfun. And, if I recall, the anti-rash medicine tastes like cat hair. Thanks for teaching my husband to inform the ER of drug allergies, Private Practice!)

But the major, central ethical dilemma arose when a woman, 20 weeks pregnant, came into St. Ambrose with a weak heart. Flanked on both sides by her diabetic husband and his brother (who is also the woman’s nurse), she refuses to listen to Addison’s suggestion to terminate the pregnancy, even though that would be the best solution. (Basically, at this point it’s either lose the baby and live to try again, or keep the baby and tempt fate with potentially dying later on if a new heart cannot come in on time.) But a day later, her husband turns up brain dead after overdosing on insulin, and just happens to have a heart and the proper blood type to save his wife. Now, let’s ignore the fact that, after Charlotte comes in with some CSI people and halts the transplant at least an hour to make sure that the husband did not commit suicide or that the nurse (who allegedly is in love with the woman) murdered him, it comes to light that the overdose was accidental. Because that’s too coincidental, and Addison knows it.

My issue is this: whether it was a suicide or a murder, having her dead husband’s heart inside of her body in order to save a fetus is just going to fuck with the woman’s brain even more, and will definitely affect the child as it grows into a mentally damaged teenager with abandonment issues. When I told my wife of this storyline, she had very strong words to say about the woman’s original choice to keep the child, so if she wants to write a follow-up after this post, that’ll take care of discussing this particular focus on the episode. But from a strictly psychological point, it pretty much seems like bad decisions all around.

(Wife’s note: All I’m going to say is to rehash something my husband said a few weeks ago in one of these Shonda Rhimes post. You can make another baby, but you can’t make another Jennifer Westfeldt.)

Yay!

Yay!

In other Oceanside Wellness news, Naomi is being tempted to leave the practice she started to work at a better funded practice with research teams and scientists by none other than actor James Morrison, having just blown up on 24 merely a couple months ago only to reconfigurate, T-1000 style, as somebody with the same goddamn first name (Bill), and Pete realizes that he has to break up with hot single mother Idina Menzel because Violet is soon to give birth, and no matter who the father turns out to be, Pete is going to have to be there both for Violet and the child. And so, unfortunately, Ms. Menzel’s stint on Private Practice comes to a close, but at least we Rentheads got to experience a little in-joke when Idina walks through Oceanside Wellness, and Taye Diggs turns and watches her, proclaiming, “I like her.”

The Wife:

Oh, Luke Perry, I’d like to send all of the original 90210 fans a copy of this episode in which you play a slightly pedophilic cult leader just so that they’ll stop asking you to come back and do an episode of the new 90210. You were scary. And you look a bit haggard these days. But don’t worry, it’s haggard sexy. Like C. Thomas Howell. Point is, you coming back to 90210 would be bad.

Scary cult leader Luke Perry aside, this episode was a great exploration of the relationships between the BAU team. Prentiss and Reid infiltrate a fundamentalist compound to investigate potential child abuse. They pose as Child Victim Interview Experts from Colorado’s Child Protective Services, a job title that prompts Perry’s cult leader Cyrus to inquire how far humanity has strayed from the path to need a job like that. Unbeknownst to Prentiss and Reid, the Colorado State Police had planned a raid on the compound to rescue the children.

When the raid goes down, the rest of the BAU lead the hostage negotiations in the interest of getting Prentiss and Reid to safety. Hotch puts Rossi in charge of negotiations, sneaking in a bug to listen in and hoping that Prentiss and Reid will work on freeing the hostages from the inside. They do: Prentiss by giving herself up as an FBI agent so that Reid could work on Cyrus, Reid by endearing himself to Cyrus and cleverly guiding the hand of the prophet to get him to release those he deems to be nonbelievers (which Cyrus does by testing his followers with non-poisoned wine that he tells them is, in fact, poisoned).

Paget Brewster is not sorry that she didnt save herself for Luke Perry.

Paget Brewster is not sorry that she didn't save herself for Luke Perry.

When Cyrus hauls off Prentiss to beat information out of her, she communicates with the rest of the team by calling out “I can take it,” a subtle reminder to her colleagues that they don’t need to rush in to save her just yet. Cyrus secludes her from the rest of the compound, but his child bride’s mother comes to care for Prentiss, which Prentiss sees as an opportunity to convince the woman to get her daughter and other children out of the compound before the situation escalates. Meanwhile, the outside team acquiesces to Cyrus’s request for a meal for the compound, especially with Reid’s backing. Hotch writes in code on the food packages to let Reid and Prentiss know that the raid will take place at 3 a.m., further demonstrating just how close-knit these characters are and how well they can communicate with each other indirectly.

The chicken place is open til 3 a.m. Thats all that means, I swear.

The chicken place is open til 3 a.m. That's all that means, I swear.

Jessica’s mother helps Prentiss get all the women and children to the basement so that the FBI can spirit them out the backdoor when the raid happens. Morgan bursts in to the compound and takes out Cyrus before he can blow the whole compound while Prentiss got the women and children to safety, save for Cyrus’s wife Jessica, who ran back in to see her dead husband and ignited the blast, sacrificing herself for her husband’s beliefs.

Luckily, Morgan and Reid got out in time, but not without causing me intense distress at the thought of potentially losing my beloved Spencer Reid! Not okay Criminal Minds! Don’t try to take him from me twice in one season!

Criminal Minds decided to follow up an excellent episode like “Minimal Loss” with “Paradise,” a pretty lame episode that was basically the lovechild of Vacancy and Tarantino’s Death Proof. (In short, couples are tortured in motels and made to look like they were killed by accident in big rig accidents.) The only good things about this episode were seeing Lost’s William Mapother be slightly less creepy and seeing geek favorite Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) grow the balls Wesley Crusher never had and morph into a psychotic rapist and murderer, who ultimately meets a fitting end when he’s hit by a semi.

For as much as I didn’t like “Paradise” (because I saw Vacancy, people!), I did enjoy that two weeks in a row, Criminal Minds managed to take former teen heartthrobs like Luke Perry and Wil Wheaton and turn them into scary, completely unsexy people.

The Husband:

Nope, no vacancies. Room 8 is technically vacant, because the occupant is my mother and she is not alive, but I try not to advertise that.

Nope, no vacancies. Room 8 is technically vacant, because the occupant is my mother and she is not technically alive, but I try not to advertise that.

Yeah, the episode “Paradise” is like Vacancy and Death Proof, but it’s also like…oh, you know…Psycho. While Wheaton does a pretty damn good Norman Bates – and, to be fair, a good Frank Whaley in Vacancy – the episode didn’t feel like an episode of Criminal Minds so much as a straight-to-DVD movie. (Or, more specifically, straight-to-premium-cable fare like Blacktop with Kristin Davis and Meat Loaf.) I did get a big laugh at the ultimate fate of Wheaton’s character, though, bringing a nice sense of humor that most episodes of Criminal Minds lacks whenever Reid or Garcia are not onscreen. (Seriously, has J.J. ever cracked a smile about anything?) We did, I believe, get the first Hotch Funny ever when he commented on Garcia’s chipper and bizarre state.

“Remind me to have her drug-tested.”

The previous episode also felt a bit un-CM, although I do appreciate them trying to break out of some of their formulas. Problem is, the machinations of the Ruby Ridge/Waco plot felt more like Numb3rs than anything else. In fact, Numb3rs has already done a very similar episode a couple seasons ago, one that slightly bothered me because the FBI team ended up failing the mission, leading to the sacrifice/decimation of the cult due to a few Eppes Brothers mistakes. What bugged me was that such an FBI disaster, in the real world, would be dealt with by a very thorough internal investigation, but in the world of CBS procedurals was never referred to again despite Don and Charlie having been partially responsible for the deaths of two dozen people.

Oh CBS procedurals, will you ever cease to exist? Probably not.

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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