Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why do I Like the Mentalist? No, seriously. Why?

I think its first episode is a taut, basic but engaging classic. After, it does get easier to pin point who the bad guy is but it is still a fun ride.

I've been watching The Mentalist since last summer try-out first episode, intrigued by the title. And I'm the first surprised to see how much I like those characters.

The Mentalist is a good vehicule for Simon Baker. In any other context that wouldn't lend him a certain gravitas (He suffer from the Max Payne-like, modern hero classic syndrome: his whole family has been butchered by an unknown psychopath), his obvious talent would have been drowned in his sunny blond locks and he would have been a bit too cute for the role. He is not The Wire's McNulty or even Law and Order's Det. Cyrus Lupo. He's not even a cop. He's an illusionist. Maybe. But basically, he's like a California blond Mulder: the sardonic, cynical tone is dampen some but his humor is focused and fair and still slightly snarky. It's fun to see Baker on-screen, we just wished he had other actors to play with.

What did Mulder have that Baker doesn't have? A Scully, a Krycek and a cigarette smoking man. A non stereotype sensual/logical princess, a shadow nemesis and a really powerful boss/enemy/daddy figure.
I wished they could find a girl that is as mysterious and witty as Scully was that could play along with his immoderate ego and be a challenge. Sometimes the show slips into easy mode, giving us what should pass as sexual tension - without the tension. And without the sex, of course. This is not HBO where some rare times all you get IS sex.

A shadow nemesis would be another way to add to the mystery, give it some weight and give Baker something to do other than talk to pretty women or the worshipers of his own posse. It would make him vulnerable and less glib as a character.

And the psychopath bad guy is too elusive. Make him a presence we can feel. Make him a real re-occurring nightmare. Blend the line between reality and supernatural as the creators seemed poised to do at the beginning of the show.

Give it some challenge other than Love Boat guest star villain of the week or it is the show that will lose its grip and blend into bad tv landscape.

But I'll give Baker some eye time, for sure. For now.

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