Another CBS crime drama, "The Mentalist" is not too far removed from a number of other shows in the genre - and even has somewhat direct competition in the form of Fox's "Lie to Me" (and also the somewhat similar USA show, "Psych".) However, "The Mentalist" holds up reasonably well thanks to fine performances and solid writing. It also provides yet another new home for underrated actress Robin Tunney, who continues to deserve her own show.
Created by Bruno Heller (HBO's remarkable "Rome"), the series stars Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, a former stage psychic who is incredibly intuitive, impressing many with his ability to read people. After a tragedy, he joins the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in order to use his talents for good. Yet, while he works for the police, his unorthodox methods and occasionally irreverent attitude does upset his co-workers, such as his boss, Teresa Lisbon (played by Tunney.)
Jane - who is hired by the force as a consultant - is joined by co-workers Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman), Kimball Cho (Tim Kang) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti). The core idea of Jane's ability to read people impressing his fellow officers and also irritating them with his irreverent ways is an idea that could become repetitive.
However, it's a credit to Heller that the series manages to work within its frame and not manage to feel as if it's going over the same ground again and again, largely thanks to above-average writing and solid performances, especially from Baker, who - like the rest of the series - manages to get the delicate balance between shifting tones right. There are moments of humor throughout the series, but they don't feel forced or overdone. Overall, this is a crowded genre, but "The Mentalist" has enough going from it to stand out from the pack.
• Season 1
1 1-01 23/Sep/08 Pilot
2 1-02 30/Sep/08 Red Hair and Silver Tape
3 1-03 14/Oct/08 Red Tide
4 1-04 21/Oct/08 Ladies in Red
5 1-05 28/Oct/08 Redwood
6 1-06 11/Nov/08 Red Handed
7 1-07 18/Nov/08 Seeing Red
8 1-08 25/Nov/08 The Thin Red Line
9 1-09 02/Dec/08 Flame Red
10 1-10 16/Dec/08 Red Brick and Ivy
11 1-11 06/Jan/09 Red John's Friends
12 1-12 13/Jan/09 Red Rum
13 1-13 18/Jan/09 Paint It Red
14 1-14 10/Feb/09 Crimson Casanova
15 1-15 17/Feb/09 Scarlett Fever
16 1-16 17/Mar/09 Bloodshot
17 1-17 24/Mar/09 Carnelian Inc.
18 1-18 31/Mar/09 Russet Potatoes
19 1-19 07/Apr/09 A Dozen Red Roses
20 1-20 28/Apr/09 Red Sauce
21 1-21 05/May/09 Miss Red
22 1-22 12/May/09 Blood Brothers
23 1-23 19/May/09 Red John's Footsteps
VIDEO: "The Mentalist" is presented by Warner Brothers in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality is generally quite good, as the show's fine visual style is done justice by the crisp, clean and detailed transfer. Sharpness and detail are a tad weaker during some of the low-light sequences, but otherwise the picture remained well-defined.
A couple of slight traces of pixelation were spotted, but no edge enhancement was seen and the source material remained clear throughout. Colors looked bold and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The show is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show's audio is pretty decent for a television program. Surrounds aren't put into terribly aggressive use, but the rear speakers do come into play on a couple occasions during many episodes to deliver some nicely placed sound effects or ambience. Audio quality remained superb, as sound effects and dialogue remained crisp and seemed well-recorded.
EXTRAS: Not too much - "Evidence of a Hit Series" featurette (not that the show is tooting its own horn or anything), "Cracking the Crystal Ball" featurette, deleted scenes for 3 episodes and a gag reel. No commentaries.
Final Thoughts: "The Mentalist" doesn't venture too far from the expected (and two other, similar shows can be found elsewhere), the series does manage to stand out thanks to fine writing and a few very good lead performances. The DVD set provides solid audio/video quality, as well as a few nice extras. Recommended.