This is a truly superb and understated show that has delighted me for years. Smart, witty and endlessly clever, it centers around Patrick Jane, a self-confessed ex-conman who now uses his “psychic” powers of observation, deduction and reasoning to assist the California Bureau of Investigation in exchange for being included in the ongoing search for serial killer Red John. This psychopath murdered Jane’s wife and daughter and leaves a creepy smiley face painted in blood as his signature at all his murder scenes. (I know … yuck!) Despite the somewhat gloomy set-up, this show is anything but a downer. Simon Baker is absolutely tremendous as the quiet dapper man in natty attire with mischief in his eyes as he sets up elaborate cons and very unconventional stings to nab the evildoer(s), much to the dismay of the disconcerted law enforcement suits who are used to doing things by the book. Patrick is a gentleman in every sense of the word who loves classic cars, drinks tea and is quick with a glib remark, a brilliant observation or a pithily worded expression of distaste. He’s always one step ahead of everyone else and takes just as much pleasure in solving a case as he does meddling in other things and in particular exposing frauds who purport to be psychic.
One of the things that makes this show great is the marvelous inter-personal relationships between everyone on the team, much like the interactions that made every incarnation of Star Trek so successful. There’s a great group of characters with super-finely drawn personalities and their constant and often exquisite repartee as they go about their business is incredibly entertaining. Major props to Tim Kang for his spectacular performance as Agent Cho, a taciturn stoic with the ultimate poker face and hilarious deadpan delivery. I rarely know where on earth the narrative of each episode is going to go, as the writers are insanely creative in their craft. I was a little concerned as the show went on about how they would handle things when the Red John story arc was no longer extant, but once again the writers have impressed me by continuing to make each episode an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride. I’d sit and watch,frequently clapping my hands in unholy glee as each perfectly crafted story unfolds and it’s tough to think of another show I have so thoroughly enjoyed as much as this one. The Mentalist ran for 7 phenomenal seasons and wrapped up in a wonderful finale that was just perfect. I’ll miss it and of course wish it could have continued, but I’m so glad it was given a chance to devote the entire last season to resolving various story lines rather than being summarily cancelled, leaving the rather betrayed viewer stuck with a partial narrative that will never be concluded. – BETHANY
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Jane is often to be found with tea in hand (cup and saucer, of course) sitting on a beat-up couch at CBI headquarters. “Tea? It’s like a hug in a cup.”
Investigating a yacht called the Miss Red, also the title of the episode. Every episode has some variation on the color red, a reference to serial killer Red John; Crimson Casanova, The Scarlet Letter, Carnelian, Inc, Russet Potatoes, A Price Above Rubies, War of the Roses, My Bloody Valentine, Strawberries and Cream, Ring Around the Rosie, etc.
Lisbon’s unofficial job is to restrain Jane from his more outlandish schemes.
Jane and Lisbon go undercover as a married pair of socialites with more money than brains.
Cho, with his trademark inscrutable expression.
Wayne Rigsby is like a big puppy dog, but it would be a mistake to underestimate him.
Rigsby and Cho are unlikely friends and a hoot to watch.
Grace Van Pelt has a sunny personality and a whip smart mind.
But don’t discount her simply because she’s pretty and a girly girl.
The Mentalist has had quite a list of guest stars. Morena Baccarin plays Erica Flynn, an owner of a matchmaking service whose husband is murdered, with a devious mind nearly the equal of Jane’s.
Henry Ian Cusick (second above) plays Tommy Volker, a shady businessman intent on wooing Teresa Lisbon. Other guest stars and smaller recurring rolls include:
- Aunjanue Ellis (Madeleine Hightower)
- Pruitt Taylor Vance (J.J. LaRoche)
- Michael Gaston (Gale Bertram)
- Catherine Dent (FBI Agent Susan Darcy)
- Rebecca Wisocky (Brenda Shettrick, CBI Media Relations)
- Kevin Corrigan (Homeland Security agent Bob Kirkland)
- David Narona (DDA Osvaldo Ardiles)
- Leslie Hope (Kristina Frye, a psychic who occasionally works with the CBI)
- Eric Winter (FBI Special Agent Craig O’Laughlin)
- Samaire Armstrong (Summer, a prostitute CI recruited by Cho)
- Emmanuelle Chriqui (Lorelai Martins)
- Malcolm McDowell (Bret Stiles, leader of Visualize, a pseudo church)
- Pedro Pascal (FBI Agent Marcus Pike)
- Reed Diamond (Ray Haffner)
- Currie Graham (Walter Mashburn)
- Robert Picardo (Jason Cooper, member of Visualize)
- Michael Rady (Luther Wainwright)
- Xander Berkeley (Sheriff McAllister)
- Alicia Witt (Rosalind Harker, Red John’s blind friend/paramour)
- John Billingsley (Ellis Mars)
Photos courtesy of Primrose Hill Productions, Warner Bros. Television and CBS. Other photo credits can be found by clicking on them.