TV on DVD Obsession: The Mentalist

, via Wikimedia Commons”]Simon Baker, aka The Mentalist

*Since I’m going to do the PostAWeek2011 challenge in this blog, I figured introducing some staples/topical posts was in order. This is one of the first ones, TV on DVD Obession. I will profile any TV shows I have discovered on DVD rather than on television. Suggestions are welcome.

In the previous TV on DVD Obsession post, I gave you a profile of the kind of lead male characters in a medical or criminal drama that I love. The character of Patrick Jane (played superbly by Simon Baker) is one of those characters–charismatic, witty, and troubled, with a tragic past and genius intellect.

My mother extolled the virtues of this show every time I called her on a Thursday night. She was so taken by this show, she couldn’t be bothered to talk to me when it was on. My mother is always captivated by some new show or the other, so I didn’t think much of it, but I put it on my list of things to check out on Netflix, should it make it to DVD (as nearly all shows do these days).

I sometimes play Russian Roulette with my Netflix queue. I set it and forget it, then go in a few weeks/months later to change it up if I think it’s necessary. In one of my RR cycles, I opened my red envelope like a kid at Christmas, eager to find out what was inside, and found the first DVD of The Mentalist. From Episode one, I was in love.

Patrick Jane is a mentalist–someone who is supremely observant, can read body language and non-verbal queues, and has a knack for hypnosis and other tricks. He used to be a charlatan, a man who swindled others into believing he had psychic abilities and could communicate with the dead. However, after the tragic murder of his wife and child by the serial killer Red John, he has made his life’s work tracking down this killer. To facilitate this, he helps a team of detectives working with the California Bureau of Investigation (the CBI; as one of the main characters says, “It’s like the FBI but local) to catch other murders and help in the Red John investigation.

One of the most fascinating things about this show is the character of Patrick Jane as played by Simon Baker. On the surface, he appears droll, personable, fun, and a little eccentric, but under the surface, he’s a tortured soul bent on revenge at any cost. When a glimmer of that tortured soul or his singular focus on revenge reaches the surface, it’s horrifying, yet fascinating. You root for Jane, even though you know he’s breaking the rules, but when you see how easy it would be for him to throw in the relationships he’s seemed to have built and endanger their jobs and their safety in his pursuit, it makes you uncomfortable that you like him so much.

This show is much see TV or me. I can’t bear to watch it on regular TV; I have to gobble up two and three episodes at a time, at least. This is one of TV’s smartest, most engaging shows in the last five to ten years. Besides, there are TWO Brits on this show; how could a gal go wrong?

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