Good news! The Mentalist has been given a premiere date and will officially return to the schedule. Bad news! The final chunk of 13 episodes will be the last the inventive and occasionally brilliant procedural will give us.
The handwriting has been on the wall for quite awhile now. During the lead-up to last season’s finale, a good percentage of TV observers thought CBS would give the show the axe. In fact, I even wrote a desperate column begging for more episodes. I’m not going to say I saved the day here, but my heroic actions clearly didn’t hurt. In the end, CBS decided to issue a half-season order. Like most diehard fans, I optimistically hoped The Mentalist would return to killer, first season level ratings, but it looks like the show won’t even get that chance.
When the press release was sent out today touting The Mentalist’s return on Sunday, November 30th, the 13-episode block was billed as “The Seventh And Final Season”. So, don’t get your hopes up, people. The decision has already been made. Besides, given creator Bruno Heller bailed for Gotham and doesn’t even work on the show anymore, it actually makes sense to let Patrick Jane and company float away.
The only really frustrating element here is how much better the show got in Season 6. Typically, procedurals hit their stride during year four or five and then slowly get a little worse every year. See: Bones. But The Mentalist made a location change and a bunch of character changes and completely reinvented itself. Our hero, Patrick Jane, started working for the FBI alongside Lisbon, Cho and some new characters. Rigsby and Van Pelt bolted, and suddenly, there was new blood pumping through the veins, especially with Red John gone…
It would have been nice to see where a Red John-less show could have gone over the long haul, but if the only option is 13 more episodes and a scheduled goodbye, I’ll gladly take it. Something tells me other fans will too.
The Mentalist will premiere on Sunday, November 30th. It will run for five consecutive weeks before switching to Wednesday evenings to run out the rest of its episode order until the finale on February 18th.