4 October 2008 | GonzoBarbossa
A show that is so much more than it seems.
For anyone who thinks this is close to Psych...you're dead wrong. While both shows take a similar premise, they're so different in many ways. This show does have a man with the ability to spot minute details, but he does so much more, he plays mind games with people, reads their emotions and sets elaborate traps to catch them. Many compare him to Shawn Spencer of Psych, but I would rather compare him to Sherlock Holmes, except more tortured. The pilot obviously takes on a more serious approach than Psych and the dynamics of the show go from cute and funny to deeply disturbing in seconds.
It takes your one crime per episode procedural drama with a gifted detective and takes it one step further. Patrick Jane is more self effacing, gets into trouble and is a known fraud. But he isn't mean or intentionally rubs people the wrong way like House(also based on Holmes) or Spencer. He is very soothing, warm, instills trust and seems to get along with people pretty well, from the guy who did it to his team. At the same time, he does like to flex his intellect and power over people and loves to play games to get answers (and yet, so charming when he does so). So it's kind of disarming when you begin to see there are some serious issues with this character, he doesn't sleep, doesn't believe in life after death (and is happy that way), and is actually anti-social with the group. There are further reasons as to his psychosis that won't be discussed. Behind those warm baby blues, warm smile and calming presence, there is a man being crushed to death by very weighty issues.
Patrick Jane is a fantastic character, he's obviously brilliant, but a little distant and isn't fond of working with others. As a former faux psychic he seems pretty ready to disable believers. And of course, Simon Baker is a brilliant actor and is the reason I tuned in (I admit I too feared this was a Psych ripoff) and he brings so much depth to this character. When he plays his mind games he always brings a sense of "I know more than you and there is nothing you can do about it." type of amusement and when Red John or death apparates in conversation you see a distant look in his eyes that conveys more than what he actually saying (the psychiatry appointment in the pilot was incredible). He really plays off the layers of Patrick Jane well, pulling some back and when we get a true glimpse, the layers fall back in place. And credit goes to the set-up of Red John as his "nemesis" through a copy cat. He and Jane have a very tense meet up awaiting them, but I can wait for that just to experience the chase and the unraveling history between these two.
Another credit would go to the incredible Robin Tunney (of The Craft and Empire Records) who was reason number two for watching the pilot. She has had very little to work with in the first two episodes (but her role grew from 1 to 2 so I have faith), but she plays the hard nosed detective with a little more prudishness and distance than I would have expected. How much she knows about Jane and how far they go back is a mystery to me and their dynamic is interesting. She doesn't fall into stereotype and has retained a beguiling sense of mystery. I also appreciate the lack of clichéd moments "fraught with sexual tension" between Lisbon and Jane.
And I'd also like to credit Tim Kang- a lovely surprise and I enjoyed his character who really doesn't give a crap about hurting people's feelings or stepping on toes, he just wants to solve the case. Love it and kudos.
My only complaint would be explained in the two above paragraphs briefly. I love Cho and Lisbon and hope to get see more of the team (Van Pelt and Rigsby are really cute as well), but I understand this is called "The Mentalist" and there is still time to slowly introduce Jane's history with the team and more in depth coverage of these characters. I've only seen two episodes and I think what I anticipate will come into fruition.
Overall, this show is well written, well acted, and beautifully shot. I for one have set up a season recording on my DVR and cannot wait for the next episode, yes you can consider me a fan and I hope you head over to CBS.com and give this show a chance. I wish I had more stars to give.