Judge P.S. Colbert once shot a pilot for a series that showcased his mental abilities. It was called The Minimalist.
Our reviews of The Mentalist: The Complete First Season (published September 10th, 2009), The Mentalist: The Complete Second Season (published October 20th, 2010), and The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season (published October 13th, 2011) are also available.
Charming. Unorthodox. Expert. Killer.
So you think your job is tough?
Patrick Jane (Simon Baker, The Killer Inside Me), criminal consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), begins The Mentalist: The Complete Fourth Season by getting fired and imprisoned for the cold-blooded murder of a man he's convinced is Red John. Red is an eternally evasive serial killer who slaughtered Jane's wife and daughter nine years ago, presumably to teach him a lesson in humility. Imagine the egg on his face, when Jane realizes the man he killed wasn't Red John after all!
Season's end finds our hero apparently deep in the throes of a Mentalist breakdown. He's completely estranged from his former CBI colleagues and has relocated to Las Vegas, where he's hitting the bottle hard, and up to his old tricks in order to make ends meet; squeezing hard cash from easy marks with phony readings of all sorts. Despite keeping a low profile for most of the year, the spectre of Red John has returned with a vengeance, and the body count spikes.
How The Mentalist beats his murder rap (despite committing the crime in broad daylight before a crowded shopping mall full of witnesses), regains his consulting credentials, and rejoins the bureau team headed up by senior agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney, Open Window) for a seriously addictive set of crime-busting adventures is for you to find out. The less I tell you, the more exciting your twenty four episode trawl will be.
Before agreeing to review The Mentalist: The Complete Fourth Season, I was virtually clueless about this primetime perennial. I knew the title character was played by the same blond Brit who headed up another hourlong CBS drama (The Guardian) I'd completely missed a decade earlier…without one whit of regret. There was something about Simon Bakers's smirking good looks; a perceived smugness that raised my hackles.
That's what I get for judging a bloke by his cover! Baker is nothing short of magnificent here, a master juggler of emotional hues, and perfectly adept at conveying a charlatan's sincerity. Likewise, Tunney provides a perfect counter-weight as Lisbon; nominally his superior, but more practically his partner. The pair operate as a dynamic tag team, with Lisbon sagely tempering Jane's sleight-of-hand manipulations, and checking his inclination to color outside the lines of protocol and procedure.
The rest of the team is equally solid, if somewhat more restrained. Though Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti, The O.C.) is still understandably reeling from the shock of having to fatally wound her fiance at the conclusion of the previous season, partners Rigby (Owain Yeoman, Kitchen Confidential) and Cho (Tim Kang, Rambo) each get romantic subplots this time out. Considering the extremely focused workaday nature of these characters, such sidebars are usually the kiss of death, but these particular diversions manage to avoid detracting from the real focus of the series, affording Yeoman and Kang the opportunity to play more than strictly-business men. Cho's dalliance with a paid CBI informant and former prostitute (superbly played by Samaire Armstrong) works spectacularly well, defying incredible odds and providing one of the season's most satisfying arcs.
Warner Bros. is obviously looking to satisfy as many customers as it can with this handsomely packaged set. Aside from crisp and clean episodes presented in standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, there are a pair of audio options (English and Portuguese) vividly rendered in Dolby 5.1 surround. We also get no less than six subtitle options, allowing for quite a chunk of the earth's population to follow the proceedings. The lone bonus feature—"CBI: Behind The Badge"—features The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller (Rome) and his cast of regulars expounding on the prep work involved in making their character portrayals ring technically true. They're also joined by a posse of real criminal investigators, attesting to the show's success. We also receive a colorful, photo-studded booklet with episode synopses tucked into the case for further enjoyment.
I can't remember enjoying an hourlong drama from any of "the big three" networks in at least a decade. But given the quality of these episodes and their top notch presentation, I don't believe it possible to attain further enjoyment, short of Robin Tunney making a guest appearance in my life.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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