|Index||2 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is by far my favorite episode of the whole series. The story is exciting, the tension is at maximum level - especially in the end, when Jane met his worst enemy in person. This thrilling moment made my heart beat faster in ecstasy. THAT was the true Red John appearance! Menacing, fearsome yet charismatic, this arch-villain really deserves a special place on the top! After this scene all the story became even more intensive and interesting. From this episode I started my own search for clues of his real identity, which was a very important part of my life. This mystery seized my soul for years. I hoped 6x08 would be even more tense and stirring but my dreams were all broken..
It is easy to dismiss a lot of what is on network television when so
much of it seems determined to blend seamlessly in one's memory with
other shows. The idea behind The Mentalist could be summarised as
"Psych played straight" and, as all viewers know it fits nicely into
the current crop of crime mystery type shows that utilise a central
quirky character with a specific skill or quirk Castle, Shark, House
and so on. On one hand one can bemoan the lack of originality and point
out how easy it is to change some details and copy the rest rather than
making something truly memorable like The Wire but then on the other
hand how hard must it be to make this formula feel fresh. It doesn't
happen very often but a few times we have been watching one of these
shows and the case has rung bells making me think we've seen this
episode before, only to realise that it was another show (in this case
an episode of Lie to Me which also featured an apparent suicide in the
valley below a bridge.
I use the word "fresh" for a reason because shows like this need to at least feel new and vibrant to counteract the constant risk that it will hit as overly familiar. The Mentalist is pretty good at this and it is perhaps the reason it has been successful. Of course it is not doing anything new; the plots are still by the numbers mystery solved in under 45 minutes to make room for commercials, the usual elaborate ruse to expose the guilty party and the usual tensions/interplays between the characters as it occurs. The comic edge to it adds to the fresh and entertaining feel but this is a show that lives on the surface and this is demonstrated by season 2.
All shows will develop and it is telling how they choose to do it. OK they are comedy genre examples but both Curb Your Enthusiasm and Always Sunny in Philadelphia failed to really inspire me in their first seasons but yet in both cases the second seasons showed everything suddenly falling into places with the rough edges gone and massive jumps in writing. Seinfeld did the same albeit it was season 4 that just seemed to do no wrong. With The Mentalist though season 2 feels like business as normal in almost every regard. The only real discernible "improvements" have been in the cooler title sequence and that several of the cast have made a bit more effort put into their appearance in regards hair and make-up. Outside of this the plots remain the same easy to enjoy if you are looking for easy light entertainment but rarely do they offer more. Thankfully one episode sees Jane's ruse not work in court because normally they are so elaborate that even the most dedicated viewer would admit that if we did a Law & Order and followed the case to court it would be thrown out within 5 minutes. The supporting characters are utilised more this time to fill out the time and share the load, but they are only used for the same sort of level of material as in season 1 just given more time.
The Red John thing is meant to hook me but it continues to be used in a cynical way. Fall or season finale coming up? Expect everything to suddenly get a little bit more serious and for Red John or something related to him to show up and remind us of a "bigger plot" to keep watching for. In a way he reminds me of the smoke monster in the early days of Lost, which would rumble by everything things got a bit dull with the characters. Baker is a bit better with this material in season 2 though, while also keeping his light touch with the rest of it. Despite myself I like him in the lead even if he doesn't have a great deal of screen presence. Tunney seems to being moved to being more than the "authoritative but shyly-appreciative of Jane's methods" boss character as Ellis has come in to do that role now as Hightower; what this leaves Tunney with I'm not sure but she is still OK. Itzin jumps out which is a shame but I guess when 24 decides to bring your character back for the final season you don't hang around in a small role in The Mentalist. The supporting cast are expanded a little and they deal with it to varying degrees. Kang still doesn't do much beyond looking a bit bored by it all but Yeoman and Righetti seem to be pushing out a little more to being more than filler. The weekly case can normally be solved by spotting the one guest that you recognise from other shows unknown bit-part actors rarely seem to commit crimes these days.
So, is season 2 of The Mentalist any good. The obvious answer is "no" because it continues to be a genre show that offers little but easy entertainment in an (overly) familiar mould that engages but never challenges or surprises. On the other hand though those that like the show will think it has improved because superficially it has and for a show that relies on the delivery being slick and glossy I guess this is an improvement. Those that love this type of show will continue to love it as a result but it is hard to get particularly excited by a season where "more of the same" is the goal and "developing the show" is done by getting the cast more expensive haircuts and make-up.
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