The Mentalist or The Good Wife? Thatís the way most network experts pitched CBSí Sunday night dilemma. They could either renew the well-liked, moderately-rated crime procedural that does very well in syndication and overseas or they could renew the award-winning, moderately-rated legal drama. It was supposedly one or the other.
For a long time, The Mentalist was the best procedural on television. Then suddenly, it wasnít. The balance between whimsical and psychologically exciting mystery of the week episodes and serious, borderline disturbing Red John episodes swung sharply from the former to the latter, and with that transition, much of the what made the show so special sorta drifted away.
During the last episode of Criminal Minds to air, Jennifer Jareau was kidnapped and tortured by a militant former associate who wanted her access codes as part of an anti-government conspiracy. During the last episode of The Mentalist to air, a recurring character and associate of the lead was kidnapped, tortured and murdered as part of an organized campaign against the CBI.
Tonight was the big one. After five and a half seasons of a fascinating cat and mouse game between Thomas Jane and the serial killer known as Red John, The Mentalist finally saw fit to reveal the elusive sociopathís identity and to offer our hero at least some measure of closure.
If episode titles and cursory plot descriptions are any indication, we seem to be two weeks ago from finally knowing the identity of The Mentalist serial killer Red John. Whether Jane will straight up murder the bastard or have him arrested is unclear at this point. Regardless, the clock is ticking until we finally have answers to the primary question: who murdered our main characterís family?
Upon first glance, the format of The Mentalist isnít a whole lot different from other procedurals. Each season contains a majority of bottle, mystery of the week episodes interspersed with a few attempts at catching the big bad. What sets The Mentalist apart, however, is that the so-called big bad has been the same killer since the first episode of the first season.
I watch shows like The Americans, Parenthood and Game Of Thrones to be surprised. I watch procedurals when I want the familiar. Unfortunately, thereís one thing thatís a little too familiar about random episodes of procedurals: killers who are way the hell more famous than every other random guest star.
Ready for the fall? Yeah, me neither. The summer TV season is only just getting started but CBS is already getting their ducks in a row for the Fall and those who want to plan ahead can get a look at what the Eye has in store for their viewers come September.
The Masters normally brings in pretty great ratings throughout Day 4. However, last night, CBSí coverage of The Masters ran into primetime, skewing the networkís ratings a bit. CBS had a pretty great night last night, averaging 12.4 million total viewers and earning 2.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic with the big golfing outing plus original programming.
Homeland wrapped up its second season last month and recurring actress Zuleikha Robinson now has some time on her hands. For her next TV role, the Homeland and Lost alum has signed on for an episode of The Mentalist, which no doubt means she will somehow be connected to a crime. But will she play a good guy or a bad guy this time around?
In its four previous seasons, The Mentalist has dealt with criminals from many different backgrounds and with all kinds of different agendas. What the show does not do all that often is introduce potential criminals with multi-episode story arcs. In Season 5, Lost alum Henry Ian Cusick is joining the cast for a special three-episode guest stint that may or may not leave the man with a criminal rap sheet.
At its best, The Mentalist balances the comfortable formula of a police procedural with the intellectual aggression of televisionís most brilliant mind. It offers viewers a mystery, a generic, standard whodunit they could just as easily encounter on a dozen other shows and gives its title sleuth room to work his magic. Through fascinating mental tricks and unorthodox schemes, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) always sniffs out the guilty party, though ultimately his or her identity is far less interesting than how he discerns it.
There are still a few weeks before we get to see where the newest Red John clue leads in the new season, but until then, if weíre just looking to relive some cutesy moments between Jane and Lisbon or wanting to delve in to some old cases from last season, weíll be able to do so when Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings The Mentalist: The Complete Fourth Season onto DVD on September 18.
According to Heller, Season 5 of the hit show will give fans many more clues to who Red John is and why he behaves the way he does. Heller recently announced fans who have stuck with the series since its inception will finally be validated with some serious Red John hints.
Red Johnís power doesnít lie in his savage nature. It lies in his ability to turn Jane into a reactionary character, one of those loose canons the consultant spends most of his time apathetically hunting. The bloody face on the wall doesnít just signal carnage, it signals a role reversal, a cat and mouse game in which Jane is the one more often being toyed with. Itís in these episodes that The Mentalist, both the show and character, are at their best