Mental case

The­Men­tal­ist is one kooky, lik­able char­ac­ter who grows on view­ers.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TV - By MICHAEL CHEANG

THE Men­tal­ist is one of those shows you will keep watch­ing. It is also a show that will re­mind you a lot of other shows – it bor­rows suc­cess­ful el­e­ments of other episodic crime pro­ce­dural se­ries, many of which you will find very fa­mil­iar in­deed.

Like the long-run­ning, never-end­ing CSI fran­chise, The Men­tal­ist is a crime pro­ce­dural show that does not re­quire you to catch ev­ery episode to fol­low the sto­ry­line.

Like Monk, which sadly ended its run af­ter a long and ful­fill­ing eight sea­sons, it in­volves a kooky, lik­able char­ac­ter who solves crimes in a unique man­ner.

Like Psych, the lead char­ac­ter Pa­trick Jane in The Men­tal­ist is an in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor who uses his acute sense of ob­ser­va­tion (among other skills) to solve heinous crimes and mur­ders.

Nev­er­the­less, while these sim­i­lar­i­ties were much more pro­nounced in the show’s first sea­son, the sec­ond sea­son sees the se­ries grow­ing into its own shoes and be­com­ing much more than just a copy­cat of other shows.

Much of it has to do with Simon Baker, who puts in a much more as­sured per­for­mance in the lead role of Jane, a men­tal­ist (some­one who uses his skills of ob­ser­va­tion and his abil­ity to ma­nip­u­late other peo­ple to get what he wants) who puts his skills to

Pa­trick Jane (Simon Baker) takes the lead again in yet an­other case in Kang) and Lis­bon (Robin Tun­ney). good use by as­sist­ing the fic­tional Cal­i­for­nia Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion in solv­ing crimes.

He came across as smug and coy through­out the first sea­son, but the sec­ond sea­son sees him ton­ing down the smug­ness, and is a lot more lik­able.

The sup­port­ing char­ac­ters – CBI agent Teresa Lis­bon (Robin Tun­ney) and her team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors Kim­ball Cho (Tim Kang), Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeo­man) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) – also get a lot more time to shine, with sev­eral episodes ac­tu­ally dwelling on their lives and back­grounds, in­stead of just fo­cus­ing on Jane alone.

My main com­plaint is de­spite Jane’s biggest goal be­ing to catch the elu­sive Red John (a se­rial

Flank­ing him are Cho (Tim killer who mur­dered Jane’s wife and daugh­ter af­ter Jane mocked him on na­tional TV), there is lit­tle progress in that par­tic­u­lar case.

In­stead, what we get are more CSI-like stand-alone episodes that in­volve Jane us­ing his skills – which range from con­ning peo­ple, hyp­no­tism, sleight of hand, and even some petty pick­pock­et­ing – to solve ran­dom crimes-of-the-day. It’s like CSI, but with a naughty rogue in­stead of fancy sci­ence gadgets.

It’s a real shame that they didn’t in­volve Red John more, as he is more than a wor­thy ad­ver­sary for Jane, be­ing the only per­son to out­smart and taunt the oth­er­wise supremely con­fi­dent men­tal­ist.

We ac­tu­ally see more of a darker side to Jane when­ever Red John is in­volved, and in the sec­ond sea­son, we see just how far he is will­ing to go to catch his neme­sis.

What is cov­ered in the sec­ond sea­son is also a lot darker and sig­nif­i­cant than the Red John her­rings scat­tered through­out the first sea­son. The har­row­ing fi­nale, in par­tic­u­lar, is def­i­nitely a game changer for Jane, and ac­tu­ally makes you an­tic­i­pate the start of the third sea­son (which pre­miered in the United States two weeks ago).

All the same, if the progress made in the sec­ond sea­son is any in­di­ca­tion, this is one show that can only get bet­ter with each sub­se­quent sea­son.

It may still be a lit­tle pre­dictable and too episodic for my lik­ing, but here’s hop­ing that it will even­tu­ally blos­som into a much more ful­fill­ing se­ries. n The­Men­tal­ist airs on Ntv7 on Mon­days at 8.30pm.

More mind games:


Amanda Righetti is Grace Van Pelt in The­Men­tal­ist.

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