Credit: Cliff Lipson

Like EW TV critic Gillian Flynn, I wasn’t expecting to find CBS’ latest procedural, The Mentalist, what’s the word… necessary. If I want banter (and a man who can wear a suit) over my dead bodies — and I do — I watch Bones. But after last night’s series premiere, Gillian isn’t the only one planning to tune in again. (Read her official EW review of The Mentalist here.)

Simon Baker plays Patrick Jane, a man who pretended to be a psychic until a serial killer, known as Red John, whom he bragged about profiling for the police on TV, murdered his wife and child in their home — and left Patrick a note saying that were he a real psychic, he wouldn’t need to open the bedroom door to know what had been done to his family. Hor-ri-fy-ing. That flashback was set up beautifully: Now aiding the California Bureau of Investigation, as a skilled observer (not psychic), Patrick had already established that Red John always puts the smiley face he draws in the victim’s blood on the first wall a loved one will see when he or she enters the room. Why? He wants the person to see it before the body, so that he or she will experience a moment of pure dread. Cut to us watching Patrick climb the stairs to his bedroom, read the note, slowly open the door, and set eyes on a dripping red smiley face. That I had to rewatch that scene to write about it meant I slept with the lights on last night. (Even after watching The CW’s exceedingly delightful Privileged to bring me back to a semi-happy state.)

addCredit(“Cliff Lipson”)

I know CBS wants me to want Simon Baker (as that shameless promo proclaiming “There’s nothing sexier than a man who pays attention” proved), but funnily enough, the reason I don’twant to bed Patrick Jane is the exact reason I’ll keep watching him: HESLEEPS UNDER THAT DRIPPING RED SMILEY FACE. What a great dark, disturbing, slightly unbelievableway to show how much Patrick hates himself. Like, how do you even livein that same home, let alone leave that face up to taunt you while yousleep under it on a crummy twin mattress? The reveal was a fantasticfinal shot, I thought. Not as mind-blowing as the 1996 Profit pilot. (We found out that besuited sociopath Jim Profit, played by Adrian Pasdar, sleeps inside his posh apartment in a cardboard box— like the one he was reared in — naked and surrounded by scraps offood.) But definitely promising, if CBS is willing to let the showrunners probe Patrick’s pain. That backstory, and the Red John murders,will be tough to top though when the series goes into case-of-the-weekmode. (I suspect we won’t hear the words “Red John” again untilNovember Sweeps.) I suppose it will be fun to watch Patrick set more”mentalist traps,” but the show’s gonna need to cast their villainswell. With Emmy winner Zeljko Ivanek (Damages) playing the RedJohn copycat killer in this episode, Patrick had a worthy opponent.Even if said opponent could be distracted by non-threatening objectsflying almost near his face. (Was that throw-something escape technique supposed to make me laugh out loud?)

So, what’s your reading on The Mentalist: Necessary or barely better than the crime procedural Doc Jensen is pitching, The Bloodhound?Is there any chemistry between Baker and Robin Tunney, pictured, who plays the ball-bustinghead of the “serious crimes” unit? (I’m not feeling it… yet.) And howaccurate was Gillian in her review when she wrote, “With his rapid, just-above-a-whispercadence and cucumber-cool reactions,Bakerreminds you of Val Kilmer in his spryReal Genius days, but with really great hair”? (Very.)


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