'The Mentalist: The Complete First Season'
(Simon Baker, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: The mentalist is Patrick Jane (Simon Baker in an acclaimed performance), a celebrity psychic whose wife and child are viciously murdered by an elusive serial killer called Red John. Devastated, Patrick admits his paranormal act is fake, renounces his earlier life and uses his astonishing skills of observation and analysis - talents that made him appear psychically gifted - to bring killers to justice.
DVD Verdict: Christie and Conan Doyle can be blamed for the flawed genius crime fighter with that unique quality with Sherlock Holmes, Ms Marple and Poirot. There have been later takes on this theme such as Nero Wolfe. More recently its been Monk, Columbo, Mrs Fletcher (Murder She Wrote), Profiler and Medium.
This isn't serious crime investigation and thankfully its not meant to be. Enough with the real life police/hospital dramas that are usually quite frankly an overglorification of a generally unattractive, nasty and messy business (believe me I work in the crime area).
Shows like those beforementioned and of course The Mentalist are pure entertainment and totally detached from reality and that's why I like them. What makes these shows so successful is a quirky character with a unique special quality, an actor able to translate the role well to the screen and good stories and supporting characters. Simon Baker is perfect in his role, the support characters are good and the story lines entertaining.
Too often networks have lost the escapist theme in favour of an attempt (falsely) to achieve a more realistic approach. Fewer and fewer are the fun shows that I recall as a young man, such as Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Wild Wild West, the Man From UNCLE, Avengers, The Saint, Outer Limits and the Twilight Zone. There have been some recent successes with Magnum P.I., Macgyver, The Pretender and X-Files. Great examples of pure escapism, realistic enough have you half way believing, but fun enough to know at the end of the program that you have had a good time.
'The Mentalist' is just such a show. Its the sort of program you want to watch over and over again because of the unusual nature of the character and the cleverness of the actor in portraying that character. Its the process and the interpersonal exchanges that are why you watch programs like this. The conclusion, though important, is secondary to the journey we take with the lead character seeing his quirky and genius approach to the information received.
Thank goodness there are still some programs like this around, like oases in a desert of modern day TV visual chewing gum, that has long ago lost its flavor. [BF] This is a Widescreen presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Evidence of a Hit Series - Interviews with the creators, directors and cast expose the origins and inspirations for this alluring
character-part Sherlock Holmes, part charlatan
Cracking the Crystal Ball: Mentalist Vs. Psychic - In addition to the producers, directors and cast, we interview detectives,
mentalists and police psychics to determine if their powers are just a function of keen observation, a charade... or something more.
Surveillance Video: Gag Reel