Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fox’s ‘Mental” Watch At Your Own Risk

All photos from Fox
Tuesday night, Fox premiered its new show, ”Mental”. I actually fell asleep about halfway through, not a good sign. But, I did manage to record it on my DVR so I could at least do a proper postmortem.

Fox describes “Mental” as “a medical mystery drama featuring Dr. Jack Gallagher, a radically unorthodox psychiatrist who becomes Director of Mental Health Services at a Los Angeles hospital where he takes on patients battling unknown, misunderstood and often misdiagnosed psychiatric conditions. Gallagher delves inside their minds to gain a true understanding of who his patients are, allowing him to uncover what might be the key to their long-term recovery.”

It does sound rather interesting on paper, but I think they should call the show “Sleep Clinic” as it could certainly make viewers drowsy, as it did me. Granted, pilot episodes for most shows are always a bit disjointed as they try to establish the premise and the characters. In this case, ‘Mental” did neither. While I could tell this is some sort of psychiatric facility, I really never got a feel for who exactly Dr. Gallagher (Chris Vance) was and what made him so special. I also still have no clue as to who exactly Dr. Carl Belle (Derek Webster) was supposed to be or what his role is with the hospital. At one point he seemed to work for Dr. Gallagher, at another, he seemed to be in a higher position than Nora Skoff (Annabelle Sciorra), who I think is some sort of Dr. Cuddy-like administrator but without the sexy clothes. In fact, the whole show seemed to be an attempt to clone Fox’s show House, but was doing it poorly. Unlike House, Dr. Gallagher doesn’t seem to have anything special going for him that would compel viewers to want to watch the show on a continuing basis.

Also at the hospital is a Dr. Veronica Hayden-Jones (Jacqueline McKenzie), who seems to be the facility's resident adulterer. She is having a fling with Dr. Rylan Moore (Warren Kole) who I think is the Dr. Chase clone. Her story line seemed very clichéd and uninteresting. Even when Dr. Moore closed the blinds and locked the door to what looked like the doctor’s lounge to get cozy with Veronica, the scene was laughable, as neither of them were able to convey any sense of passion or even the hint of chemistry between the two of them. I've seen better kisses in a Disney movie. McKenzie is as cold as a cucumber, and a little too icy and distant.

The medical case was about an apparent pregnant woman who came in to the hospital complaining of contractions. When they discover she is not pregnant despite the fact she looks very pregnant, they move her to the psych ward under the guise that all the other “normal” rooms were full. Rather than just explain to her that she is not pregnant, they decide to wait for her husband to arrive. He happens to be an MD and has also deluded himself into believing she is pregnant. Well, really, he started the delusion and since he told her she was pregnant, she believed it and her body just sort of played along. Of course, eventually they tell her that she isn’t pregnant and get her to take part in a fake surgery (with real surgical instruments) in order to show her husband that he is deluded. They get the scalpel into his hands and suddenly he can’t make the incision for the cesarean. Magically he is cured of his delusion! And I am laughing at how bad this all is.

Another shame is the choice of wardrobe for Annabelle Sciorra. She looked absolutely frumpy in her red puffy dress with a belt, which made her look absolutely huge. While I would never dress her like Dr. Cuddy, I think I would have found something else much more flattering for Annabelle. She did not deserve to be dressed so poorly.

My diagnosis on "Mental" is that it would be okay to watch if there is nothing else on and you’re desperate, or maybe you need to be bored to sleep. With summer reruns in full swing, you may be compelled to check it out for those reasons. For me to say that I liked it, well, that would be just a bit “mental” on my part.

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