the early word

Pilot Preview: CBS’ ‘The Mentalist’ Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good

Photo: David M. Russell/CBS

This week, Vulture’s taking a look at the best and worst of the fall’s new picked-up TV shows. Which are good? Can anything replace Cavemen? And, most important, what’s worth a DVR season pass?

Title: The Mentalist

Stars: Simon Baker (The Devil Wears Prada), Robin Tunney, Amanda Righetti

Network: CBS, Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

The pitch: A onetime charlatan TV psychic utilizes his legitimate skills of intuition to become a gratingly effective/begrudgingly respected homicide detective.

Pilot report: Through flashbacks, we learn that Patrick Jane (Baker) abandoned his life as a high-paying television personality after his wife and child were brutally murdered by notorious serial killer Red John. Now Jane’s part of a unit along with the no-bs chief Teresa Lisbon (Tunney), a naïve rookie (Righetti), and two comic-relief-y bumbling-cop types. When golf pro Price Randolph’s wife and personal doctor are found dead, it appears Red John’s at it again.

Representative dialogue:

Bereaved mother of murder victim: “You can’t help me … what do you know?”
Jane: (soft chuckle) “All sorts of things. You really only pretend to like skiing, right?”

Breakout star: Baker, we suppose, who is legitimately charming as a smirking know-it-all. But we’re guessing it’ll be tough for him to stay so thanks to the show’s awkward dips between a light and dark tone.

Worth a season pass?: Nah, sorry. Baker does what he can, but the “shocking revelations” are clunky and the show drags. Also not a good sign: The pilot’s climactic scene actually involves the ol’ Jackie Chan–style “throw something in the face of the guy who’s pointing a gun at you and then run the other way” move.
—Amos Barshad

Pilot Preview: CBS’ ‘The Mentalist’ Knows If You’ve Been Bad Or Good