The Mentalist

The Mentalist is an American police procedural comedy television series that ran from September 23, 2008, until February 18, 2015, broadcasting 151 episodes over seven seasons, on CBS. The show was created by Bruno Heller, who is also its executive producer. The show follows former "psychic" Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), who is a consultant to the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), using the highly developed observational skills he previously employed to "read" people's minds.


The series follows Patrick Jane, an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) based in Sacramento, California. Although not an officer of the law, he uses his skills from his former career as a successful, yet admittedly fraudulent, psychic medium to help a team of CBI agents solve murders. The real reason for Jane's involvement with law enforcement is to track down the serial killer known as Red John, who was responsible for the brutal murders of his wife, Angela Ruskin Jane, and his daughter, Charlotte Anne Jane.

Before the murders, Jane had a lucrative career as a con man, successfully posing as a psychic medium and enjoyed near-celebrity status. Five years before the events in the show's pilot episode, he appeared on television to claim that his paranormal abilities helped the police profile a serial killer named Red John. Red John, angered by the perceived slight, murdered Jane's wife and his young daughter in revenge.

Jane subsequently abandoned his career and teamed with the CBI, using his skills to help them solve various crimes. His main focus is on the cases involving Red John or Red John copycats. He admits to faking the supernatural aspects of his skills, often asserting that "there are no such things as psychics", yet he has finely honed skills in cold reading, hypnosis, and picking pockets, as well as his intuitive observations and an immense insight into the human psyche and the behavior of witnesses.

His associates at the CBI include their boss, Teresa Lisbon, and colleagues Wayne Rigsby, who is married to Grace Van Pelt, and Kimball Cho. Various directors and recurring civilians come across as the show unfolds, including Sam Bosco and Gale Bertram, and Kristina Frye and Walter Mashburn.

As the show progresses, the focus shifts from general cases through seasons one to three, to solely catching Red John, through seasons four to six. At the midpoint of season six, the Red John case is solved, the FBI steps in, closing the CBI, and the show adopts a new track for two seasons, along with a few new characters.

Production and distribution

The show often set episodes based on fictional locales with names such as Salinger Mill and Rancho Rosa. Like the majority of American television shows, The Mentalist was mostly filmed within the studio zone in Los Angeles County, but occasionally filmed a few scenes on location in Sacramento. The structure used to represent the CBI headquarters in Sacramento is the back of the Pico House in downtown Los Angeles. On October 15, 2008, CBS ordered the first season of The Mentalist and the show has subsequently been renewed annually since 2010, both in the domestic market and overseas.

TNT began syndicating The Mentalist in the fall of 2011. In the period between the end of Late Show with David Letterman and Late Show with Stephen Colbert in the summer of 2015, The Mentalist was carried weeknights on CBS in full as part of the network's temporary late-night lineup.

In November 2013, Amanda Righetti (Van Pelt) and Owain Yeoman (Rigsby) were confirmed to be leaving after season six concluded.

In the season-seven episode "Orange Blossom Ice Cream", scenes set in Beirut were filmed in Los Angeles and supplemented by freelance footage of Beirut by Michael Timney.

On May 10, 2014, CBS renewed the series for a 13-episode seventh season, which premiered on November 30, 2014, and later announced it as the final season.

Critical reception

The first season of The Mentalist received mostly positive reviews, with critics being divided on the procedural format, but praising the performance of Simon Baker. On Rotten Tomatoes, season one had an overall rating of 53% from 19 critics, with the consensus saying, "The setup and episodic storytelling is far from original, but The Mentalist distinguishes itself from other procedurals mostly due to the talents of Simon Baker." On Metacritic, season one has a score of 65/100, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Robert Bianco of USA Today felt the pilot episode lacked in originality, but praised Baker, saying, " The Mentalist may be a copy, but it's a well-done copy sparked by an actor who has come into his own as a TV star." Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe said, "the CBS show has very little dramatic heft or distinction, but it's wily and brisk enough to engage you for an hour." Gilbert also praised the chemistry between Baker and Tunney, but criticized the crime cases, feeling they were predictable and at times uninteresting. Mary McNamara of The Los Angeles Times praised Baker as "virtually irresistible" and said, "...psychological sleight of hand can't fill an hour every week. For that you need complicated, interesting crimes and complicated, interesting characters solving them. The Mentalist seems prepared to deliver just that."

The pilot episode had an audience of 15.6 million viewers in its first airing, and 7.8 million in a reairing three days later. The December 2, 2008, episode, "Flame Red", was the highest-rated television show of the week, marking the first time a program in its first season had achieved that distinction since Desperate Housewives four years earlier.

The show drew comparisons to the USA Network comedy Psych, which also featured a lead character with heightened powers of observation that were mistaken for psychic abilities, who works as an independent consultant for law enforcement in California, and which debuted two years earlier, including Psych itself making repeated references to the similarities with the later-premiering show.

Awards and nominations

  • 2009: 25th TCA Awards for "Outstanding new program"
  • 2009: People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama"
  • 2009: Simon Baker received a nomination for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor - Drama Series
  • 2009: nomination for The International TV Dagger at the Crime Thriller Awards, an awards ceremony presented by the British Crime Writers' Association
  • 2010: Simon Baker received a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Television Series Drama
  • 2010: Simon Baker received a nomination for Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
  • 2010: award for its scientific and critical thinking content, from The IIG during its 10th Anniversary Gala; accepted by Editor Jim Gadd
  • 2013: Golden Nymph Awards at 53rd Monte-Carlo TV Festival for International TV Audience Award - Best Drama TV Series
  • 2014: nomination for a People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Crime Drama
  • 2015: nomination for a People's Choice Award for Favorite TV Crime Drama
  • 2015: Simon Baker received a nomination for a People's Choice Award for Favorite Crime Drama TV Actor
  • 2015: Robin Tunney received a nomination for a People's Choice Award for Favorite Crime Drama TV Actress

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