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First Look at The Mentalist on CBS with Simon Baker

Pilot Watch: The Mentalist

The networks have announced their Fall schedules, but which of the series will actually be worth watching? This Summer, as the networks release their pilots, I'll be posting my first impressions. A lot can change before a show makes it to air — especially this year, when the writers' strike severely gummed up the production of pilots — so consider these just some quick thoughts on how the shows look now. Today's installment: The Mentalist, a new CBS drama that will be sandwiched between NCIS and Without a Trace on Tuesdays.

What's it about? The Mentalist focuses on, well, a mentalist: Thomas Jane, a former faux-psychic who with something of a dark past who now uses his observational skills to solve crimes for the California Bureau of Investigation.

Who's in it? Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Amanda Righetti, Owain Yeoman

The good: Baker is an appealing leading man, and not just because he's easy on the eyes (though that helps). His character is a jerk, but he's a jerk in the same way Dr. House is a jerk: Ultimately, he wants to do the right thing, and so it's easy to root for him even at his most abrasive. There's a good twist at the end, actually a bit reminiscent of NBC's Life pilot last season, and I also enjoyed the flashback to Jane's glory days as a TV psychic. Fans of crime procedurals will probably find a lot to like.

The bad: If you're not already a fan of the crime procedural, I'm not sure this one will win you over. There are a lot of "odd (fill-in-the-blank profession) with a tortured past" shows on the air right now, and The Mentalist will have to work pretty hard to set itself apart. I didn't get much out of any of the supporting characters, though that could be because the pilot was working so hard to set up Baker as a bankable star.

Will I watch? Perhaps. I wasn't bowled over, but I'm curious to know how the show integrates the story of Baker's past with his current cases.

To check out a preview, just


Photo courtesy of CBS

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