In a Fall TV season filled with unremarkable shows (and/or shows critics just got sent within the past couple of days), The Mentalist is . . . pretty good. It's not spectacular, and it doesn't break very far out of the mold of other CBS crime series, but it's a decent show that's made watchable by its leading man.
The "mentalist" of the title is Patrick Jane, played by Simon Baker, who's best known for his role in The Devil Wears Prada (and who is not Scott Speedman). Jane's a former faux TV psychic who now helps the California Bureau of Investigations solve crimes — when he's not being belligerent and unethical, that is. Jane may be a pain in everyone's rear, but he can also be serious about his job, particularly when working on cases that tie into a personal tragedy. Sound familiar? OK, it is: The Mentalist is basically what would happen if you crossed USA's Psych, NBC's Life, and Fox's House.
I'm not sure if The Mentalist will develop into anything more than that; it partly depends on whether the crime cases stay intriguing, and also partly on whether any of the supporting characters (including one played by Robin Tunney) get interesting. But for now, it's a solid show, and Baker's pretty charismatic and easy on the eyes. I wouldn't rearrange my TiVo for it, but if you have a hole on Tuesdays at 9 and want to check out something new, The Mentalist could be worth a shot. To watch a preview, read more