Third-episode verdict: Mental

The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 3

Time for a third-episode verdict, I think. The first episodes of any show are always a bit mental, so it’s forgivable that the first episode of Mental was a touch touched.

Nevertheless, since then, there have been definite signs of improvement. While we’re still in airy fairy Patch Adams land, where anyone associated with pharmaceutical companies must be pure evil and any kind of standard therapeutic practice is too much head when all we really need is heart, Mental has started to realise that maybe there’s some method to psychiatry’s madness.

Episode two, while still bat-sh*t crazy enough that even the characters had to point out how bat-sh*t crazy (dangerous, expensive, etc) Dr Lovely’s planned treatment was, did acknowledge that sometimes all you need isn’t love. It also managed to flesh out the characters a little more, set up the ‘romantic intrigues’ more realistically (and offensively in one case), and give us a House-ian mystery to deal with. Okay, the romance mainly consisted of whether a wife should cheat on her husband, so not that romantic, but at least we had some character work.

On the face of it, episode three should have been a lot worse. It featured both the late David Carradine doing little more than sitting paralysed in a wheelchair and Estella Warren doing little more than pouting and emoting, and phased out “all you need is love” in favour of “tough love”. It also had Dr Lovely kicking pharmaceutical sales reps down flights of stairs – something I’m sure won’t come back to haunt him – as well as the beginning of an evil plot against Dr Lovely from evil pharmaceutical people’s allies. And the romance was dialled down to zero.

However, since it still came across as vaguely rational, it really wasn’t that much worse at all, and it did at least add flesh to the ‘Becca’ subplot – who is the mysterious mentalist Dr Lovely is always on the phone to? Well, now we know.

It’s really not that brilliant. None of the characters is compelling. Dr Lovely acts like he’s on Vallium the whole time, and everyone else is either pretty batty, but not in an interesting way, or just dull. The plots have tended towards ‘mental illness of the week’ territory and while they’ve all been interesting in their own ways, their resolution has tended towards the irritating, stupid or just plain wrong.

It’s not without redeeming features – it’s simply not got that much going for it.

Incidentally, it turns out it’s a Canadian co-prod. I did not know that.

Carusometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Will be lucky if it lasts a season, but it certainly won’t make it to two.