Monday, December 22, 2008

The Mentalist: Looks Like I Picked a Bad Day to Start Watching

I decided to watch the Mentalist last week because Elisabeth Röhm, who used to be on Law & Order, was a guest star. I wanted to see if she would be as wooden on The Mentalist as she was on Law & Order.
While she wasn’t quite as horrible as I expected in this episode titled “Red Brick and Ivy”, she wasn’t great either and was still wooden as ever. Still, after hearing raves about the series, after watching this episode I wondered what on earth was the big deal about it? My disappointment with this episode was more that the lifeless Röhm. The story left me cold, and the cast was forgettable.

The episode was about a murder of a man billed as “one of the nation's leading cosmonauts” from a poisoning, and the lead character of show, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) gets called in by Sofie Miller (Röhm), who was Jane’s therapist when he had some sort of breakdown in years past. She needs Jane’s help to prove she didn’t commit murder of the cosmonaut, who just so happened to be her ex-husband. But it turns out she didn’t murder him, but she was involved in a fraud involving a scientific research study for some sort of “morality engine” that they are making appear that it is a success. It turns out that the murderer was Chancellor Stern (Lawrence Pressman), who was trying to protect Professor Stutzer (John Aylward) who was heading up the experiment. Sofie helps Jane create a situation that forces the Chancellor’s confession.

Boring! It was dull and predictable. But what bothered me even more was what I saw as a weak cast. I don’t get what the big deal is about Simon Baker. I saw nothing special in his character - is there supposed to be some magic talent with him? If so, I saw nothing, only a guy who looks like he’s dressing for the 1970s. It’s the vest thing. It looked very dated. Another cast member, Robin Tunney, who plays CBI Agent Teresa Lisbon, is also a big detractor for me, and for a very superficial reason. I usually try not to let a person’s appearance get in the way of a show, but no matter what show she has been on, her face is just a major turnoff for me. No, she’s not ugly, but she has a weird cheek-dimply thing going on that always makes her face look like it is sagging. Normally I can get past a person’s quirky look, but for her, I have never been able to overlook it. My husband, also watching this episode, commented that Tunney had a blank look on her face many times during the show. Her character is also very forgettable, at least for this episode. The rest of the cast just faded into the background and added no interest whatsoever.

After we finished watching the episode, I turned to my husband and asked what he thought of it. After a few ummmms – which meant he didn’t know exactly what to say – I said that I thought this episode was a dog and that I didn’t get the appeal. He agreed, saying that he was looking for the words to say that he wasn’t impressed.

After tuning out Eleventh Hour after one episode, I am tempted to do the same with The Mentalist. But, after reading many reviews of this series, it may be that this show just has a consistency problem. It sounds like there are great episodes, and then there are some that aren’t so great. I must have decided to watch on the day where they showed the worst episode of the year. So I will give it one more chance. After all, it’s rerun season, and I’m desperate to watch anything that is new to me. (Well, except for Eleventh Hour.) So I’ll give it one more chance, but that’s about it. If the Mentalist can’t get into my head after two episodes, it’s not worth wasting any more time on it.

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