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The Mentalist: TV Review

IN THE September 17 ISSUE

FROM THE 2011 Articles,
andBooks & Tales,
andDeborah Harter Williams,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andTV
SECTIONS

by Deborah Harter Williams

Spoiler alert: if you have not seen season 3 of this show there are a few spoilers here and there in this review.

The Mentalist is about to begin its fourth season having ended the third with the main character in a very difficult situation.

The title character is Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), a paid consultant to the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with a former life as a celebrity psychic. He uses the talents of his former career to help a team of CBI agents solve various crimes. His motive: to stay close to the investigation of the man who killed his wife and daughter – Red John.

He has extraordinary skills in cold reading, hypnotism, and pick-pocketing, and a few tricks of prestidigitation learned during his childhood with a traveling carnival. This combined with his powerful observational skill and deep insights into human psyche and behavior make him a potent weapon for investigating. These talents help out in every episode, but his case-side manner is often unorthodox enough to offend his co-workers, management and civilians. Prickly and difficult, Jane offers a taste of Sherlock Holmes in modern dress. That is if Holmes drove a Citroen DS-19.

The ensemble cast has strongly developed over time. Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) is the Senior CBI agent in charge of Jane and one of the few people that he will open up to. Wayne Rigsby, played by Welsh actor Owain Yeoman, is sometimes over-eager and clumsy and Kimball Cho (Tim Kang) is all deadpan.

Kang has raised his flat delivery to high art and uses it to good effect for moments of humor and pathos. Together they are sometimes referred to as Bert and Ernie, which Cho says he doesn’t mind because as he says, “Ernie’s the clever, handsome one”.

Amanda Righetti plays Agent Grace Van Pelt, of the complicated-love- life. After ending her workplace romance with Rigsby on orders from above, she was set to marry an FBI agent at the end of last season. Things will not be going as planned.

Jane’s obsession with Red John has escalated over the last three years with him seeing connections in almost every case. But it looks like it’s possible that Red John’s obsession with Patrick Jane has also escalated and previously unseen connections have just been found that tie together a number of plots and reveal the identity of a mole within the CBI. The Season 3 two-part finale was a stunner and the aftermath may change the direction of the show.

Season 4 starts Thursday Sep 22, 2011 at 10 p.m./9 central on CBS. All three seasons are available on DVD.

If you love mysteries, why not check out Left Coast Crime:
Mystery Conference in Sacramento, March 29-April 1, 2012.Registration through 12/31/2011 is only $210 (it goes up to $225 after that). Registration information can be found at the conventionwebsite, or by sending an email to rb@robinburcell.com or cindy@cindysamplebooks.com.

Deborah Harter Williams works as a mystery scout, seeking novels that could be made into television. She blogs at Clue Sisters and was formerly a mystery bookstore owner.

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