is one of the most captivating TV police procedurals ever made. Part of The Mentalist
's appeal is due to Simon Baker's easy, amazing performance as the California Bureau of Investigation's staff psychic. Part of it is in the snappy writing and the plots that are a cut above the average network cop show. And part of it is The Mentalist
's splurging on shooting on location, all over California. It elevates the state to a costarring role, and enriches the plots and gives them depth and context. At the beginning of season 2, the plot thickens. Baker's character, Patrick Jane, and his boss, Agent Lisbon (the compelling Robin Tunney), are taken off the high-profile "Red John" case, because they are deemed "too close to it." That's actually true, as Jane joined the CBI solely to help catch the murderous Red John, who killed Jane's wife and child. Now that Jane and Lisbon are off the case, they focus, or seem to focus, on regular kidnappings, murders, and the like--while still trying to follow leads in the vexing Red John case without supervisors finding out. The Mentalist
is an especially satisfying American TV series because it truly builds, episode to episode, but a viewer also can completely enjoy a single episode here and there without necessarily committing to the whole series.
But why would any viewer want to do that? Baker makes Jane a quietly effective crime solver, someone underestimated by fellow law enforcement officials as a "party trick" or fraud. But Jane's powers of perception--a steely focus that has nothing to do with magic, but everything to do with being completely in the moment--are such that most police agencies would be thrilled to have him on their staff. There's a nice line of sub-rosa chemistry, too, between Jane and Lisbon--believable because the two characters have camaraderie as well as a veneer of professionalism. The rich boxed set comes with great extras, including an interview with an actual mentalist, Luke Jermay, who is a consultant on the show, and who demonstrates his techniques of observation and deduction. There is also a great commentary by executive producer Chris Long with Jermay, pointing out all the subliminal clues in the first episode of the season. There are also several deleted scenes. Fans of police dramas and of any well-crafted and splendidly acted TV series won't want to miss The Mentalist --A.T. Hurley
California Bureau of Investigation consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker in his Emmy®-nominated role) has a blatant lack of protocol but is self-assured and driven. The former "psychic" uses his talent for seeing the clues everyone else misses to solve the most baffling crimes. But there's more than crime that makes this season a must-see: Lisbon and Cho reveal hints about their troubled pasts. Violence fells one CBI boss, and the new boss seems more interested in authority than teamwork. And as the Van Pelt-Rigsby relationship heats up, it threatens to cool down their careers. Match wits with the hit series that balances nimble humor with dark thrills.