Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Mentalist

Another emerging gem in the genre of detective fiction is The Mentalist. In this television drama, we have a detective that has incredible powers of observation and a great grasp of human behavior. As a result, he has a seemingly supernatural power to divine the truth. In fact, he used to make his living by conning people portraying himself as a psychic. The event that changed things was when a serial killer took offense at his grandstanding and killed his wife and daughter. Now he works with the fictional California Bureau of Investigation, hoping to find this killer and exact revenge on him.

The formula of the show is an interesting take on adding variety to the genre. It is almost as though the creators looked at a show like Psych, where the detective is a mentalist conning people into thinking he is a psychic, and turned that comic premise into a drama. This character has been burned by his conning games, and is now a motivated skeptic.

Patrick Jane, our titular mentalist, is not exactly a heroic character neither is he particularly admirable. He remains a very self-centered, almost sociopathic character at times. He tells a character in one episode “Revenge is a poison. Revenge is fit only for fools and madmen.” Later in that same episode, however, he admits that he does not believe what he said. His life’s goal is to kill the man that killed his family. He claims that there is no difference between justice and revenge. He also regularly disregards laws and makes ethically dubious judgments. He thinks he is a law and Justice all unto himself.

Yet we are drawn into the show both for Jane’s gifts and the glimmers of hope that he will find redemption, although we know we are likely to be disappointed in the end. Still, the situations the show presents us are intriguing and generate interesting discussion, whether it is about the decidedly uninformed take the show has regarding witchcraft in “Red Rum” or the exploration of myth and belief in “Blood Brothers.”

As it enters its third season this year, it is not too late to catch up with The Mentalist.


  1. good review! my husband and i just started watching the series this summer by accident, when we stumbled on a re-run while staying with relatives that had limited cable access (so we were stuck with mostly the networks). i was pleasantly surprised, and now we are trying to figure out the best way to catch up with the series.

  2. SO looking forward to season 3 and SO SO happy we could introduce you to the show this summer!


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