'The Mentalist' premiere: Simon Baker, serial killers, and that twisted last shot? Intriguing...

Mentalist_lLike EW TV critic Gillian Flynn, I wasn’t expecting to find CBS’ latest procedural, The Mentalist, what’s the word… necessary. If I want banter (and a man who can wear a suit) over my dead bodies — and I do — I watch Bones. But after last night’s series premiere, Gillian isn’t the only one planning to tune in again. (Read her official EW review of The Mentalist here.)

Simon Baker plays Patrick Jane, a man who pretended to be a psychic until a serial killer, known as Red John, whom he bragged about profiling for the police on TV, murdered his wife and child in their home — and left Patrick a note saying that were he a real psychic, he wouldn’t need to open the bedroom door to know what had been done to his family. Hor-ri-fy-ing. That flashback was set up beautifully: Now aiding the California Bureau of Investigation, as a skilled observer (not psychic), Patrick had already established that Red John always puts the smiley face he draws in the victim’s blood on the first wall a loved one will see when he or she enters the room. Why? He wants the person to see it before the body, so that he or she will experience a moment of pure dread. Cut to us watching Patrick climb the stairs to his bedroom, read the note, slowly open the door, and set eyes on a dripping red smiley face. That I had to rewatch that scene to write about it meant I slept with the lights on last night. (Even after watching The CW’s exceedingly delightful Privileged to bring me back to a semi-happy state.)

addCredit(“Cliff Lipson”)

I know CBS wants me to want Simon Baker (as that shameless promo proclaiming "There’s nothing sexier than a man who pays attention" proved), but funnily enough, the reason I don’twant to bed Patrick Jane is the exact reason I’ll keep watching him: HESLEEPS UNDER THAT DRIPPING RED SMILEY FACE. What a great dark, disturbing, slightly unbelievableway to show how much Patrick hates himself. Like, how do you even livein that same home, let alone leave that face up to taunt you while yousleep under it on a crummy twin mattress? The reveal was a fantasticfinal shot, I thought. Not as mind-blowing as the 1996 Profit pilot. (We found out that besuited sociopath Jim Profit, played by Adrian Pasdar, sleeps inside his posh apartment in a cardboard box— like the one he was reared in — naked and surrounded by scraps offood.) But definitely promising, if CBS is willing to let the showrunners probe Patrick’s pain. That backstory, and the Red John murders,will be tough to top though when the series goes into case-of-the-weekmode. (I suspect we won’t hear the words "Red John" again untilNovember Sweeps.) I suppose it will be fun to watch Patrick set more"mentalist traps," but the show’s gonna need to cast their villainswell. With Emmy winner Zeljko Ivanek (Damages) playing the RedJohn copycat killer in this episode, Patrick had a worthy opponent.Even if said opponent could be distracted by non-threatening objectsflying almost near his face. (Was that throw-something escape technique supposed to make me laugh out loud?)

So, what’s your reading on The Mentalist: Necessary or barely better than the crime procedural Doc Jensen is pitching, The Bloodhound?Is there any chemistry between Baker and Robin Tunney, pictured, who plays the ball-bustinghead of the "serious crimes" unit? (I’m not feeling it… yet.) And howaccurate was Gillian in her review when she wrote, "With his rapid, just-above-a-whispercadence and cucumber-cool reactions,Bakerreminds you of Val Kilmer in his spryReal Genius days, but with really great hair"? (Very.)


Gillian Flynn’s Fall ’08 Prime-Time Picks

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Gillian and Ken dish the fall TV season (video!)

Comments (44 total) Add your comment
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  • Anonymous

    I liked it. I’ll watch it again.

  • Jen

    Okay, if you’re watching Bones, where’s my TV Watch?!!!

  • Carine

    I’d like to read some privileged recap again ;)
    And yes the mentalist, even though it’s a serious version of Psych, is really nice to watch. Simon Baker does it for me. I don’t much care about tunney or the other girl or the other guys, for that matter.

  • Denise

    I didn’t expect to like it, but I was drawn in. And that ending shot – it creeped me out AND made me want to cry ………talk about having some serious baggage!

  • meg

    Privileged is awesome! Please write more about it. Also, the mentalist is pretty good too, probably my two favorite new shows of the season.

  • meg

    Privileged is awesome! Please write more about it. Also, the mentalist is pretty good too, probably my two favorite new shows of the season.

  • laura

    More Privileged please!!! I so in love with this show .. it has been a long time since I started to care for a show …hhhmm since Gilmore Girls! … so can you or someone write more about Privileged … please.

  • wildecat

    I thought the show was pretty good, mostly due to the oh-so-yumminess of Simon Baker. The last shot REALLY creeped me out, though!
    Was anyone else surprised that two great TV actors, Gail O’Grady and Steven Culp, basically had cameos? I found it odd that their character sappeared for all of, what, five minutes?
    Best line of the night? “He irks me. He’s irksome.” I will definitely be using that one!

  • mscisluv

    Didn’t watch The Mentalist, but I agree that Privileged is awesome. Can we get a TV Watch or a PopWatch posting??

  • Rory

    I had to watch it twice to “get” it (it was DVR’d. Was also waiting for Culp and Grady to reappear. Not sure how Jane observed that one of the victims was gay, though – observations are a bit of a stretch, but I like to idea of a serious Psych.

  • Amelia

    I really liked it. The ending shot kinda freaked me out, but I thought the show was awesome. I also enjoyed that line: “I’m sorry, he’s irks me…he’s irksome.” Plus, Simon Baker is a total hottie.

  • Amelia

    I really liked it. The ending shot kinda freaked me out, but I thought the show was awesome. I also enjoyed that line: “I’m sorry, he irks me…he’s irksome.” Plus, Simon Baker is a total hottie.

  • Cindy

    I LOVED “The Mentalist”! Patrick Jane is very charismatic, funny, and dark…all wrapped up in the Simon Baker-package:-) I have to say, I knew the end shot was coming, but that didn’t make it any less gratifying. I hope that it obtains a loyal audience and stays around.

  • Marcie

    I really enjoyed this show. Simon Baker was really great as a creepy, sexy, damaged guy. I noticed right at the beginning he had a wedding ring on. The end was awesome, I will definitely watch again!!
    And no, there was NO chemistry between him and that other chick. She was generic.

  • Andy

    I actually was not at all won over by the “Red John had murdered Jane’s family” backstory. It feels like it’s been done before. The head of the investigative unit (the woman in the photo attached to this story) was underwhelming but has potential. The rest of the team were disposable and remind me of cardboard cutouts designed to surround the main character to give the show some window dressing while the main character demonstrates his genius (see: “House,” “L&O: Criminal Intent,” “Monk”).
    The “Fangoria” line (which preceded “He’s irksome”) was the one that had me chuckling. Jane has a tendency to screw with people’s heads by employing his mad skillz when they annoy him or question his beliefs. Anyone else notice?
    Oh, and my early money is on Cho for Red John.

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