Time for a third-episode verdict. As suspected, back when I wrote my preview of The Mentalist, in which fake psychic Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) uses his skills in trickiness to help fight crime, this is very much a show dependent on its writers and directors. The opening episode was something of a cracker, with good writing and good direction that showed signs of subtlety and intelligence.
Since then, we've had what can only be described as relatively mediocre episodes, in which generic crim-chasing scripts get a little psychic goodness sprinkled on them, usually in the form of a magic trick at the beginning, as a sop to the format. Otherwise, you'd be hard pushed to differentiate them from any other police near-procedural, beyond the fact the format allows the writers to skip whole chunks of working out and leap scenes, simply through Jane's skills (which often aren't really explained).
The one exception to this been there, done that feel is Simon Baker, who manages to make every scene better just through his mere presence. Nevertheless, while everything feels like quality, it's pretty much an illusion. There's not much wrong with The Mentalist – it just needs to have something right as well, and all that was right in the pilot seems to have been forgotten about.
The show's now been acquired by Five in the UK and has gone to a full season, so should be around for a while for both UK and US viewers.
Two – a Partial Caruso