TV Review: The Mentalist 4.14 “At First Blush” – Stooges in a Comedy Troupe

Isn’t February sweeps time? Isn’t this the time of year that we get juicy Red John episodes to tide us over to the next sweeps period? Was the revelation at the end of last week’s episode supposed to tide us over until May? I mean, that was a pretty big ender last week – everyone in CBI plus the FBI knows that Red John is alive, Darcy suspects that Jane knew this fact and I’m sure the rest of Lisbon’s team suspect that as well. So, what do we get this episode? Not one mention of it. I can understand Darcy not being there. Catherine Dent is a recurring character, and won’t be in every show. But, the rest of the team just goes on like nothing has happened? So do Lisbon and Jane? What surprises me about At First Blush (★★) isn’t that no one references the bombshell from the episode before – that is par for the course after all – but that such a dull episode with no relation to the overall story happened during sweeps.

Three things of import happened in this episode, two to do with Cho. Funny, since last week I mentioned that Cho was criminally underused. One, Rigsby finally noticed and mentioned Cho’s dependence on painkillers. Two, Summer finally pushed Cho to admit he liked her and they made out in the elevator. What is it with CBS shows and elevators? I’m happy for Cho and, by the standards of The Mentalist, this romance was practically whirlwind.

The third is less an event than the planting of a couple of seeds by the lawyer, Porchetto, who failed to convict Jane of Food Court Red John’s murder. Porchetto has zero patience for Jane and who can blame him? When Jane declares that the woman Porchetto is trying for murder is innocent because she loves her parents, it’s too much. After Rigsby and Van Pelt visit the original investigating officer, asking questions about his investigation, Porchetto goes to Lisbon and, after he complains about Jane and Lisbon does her standard defense, Porchetto declares that Jane isn’t the problem, Lisbon is. This after the investigating officer laughs at Rigsby and Van Pelt, calling them stooges in a comedy troupe. Give props to The Mentalist for addressing through the show what I have thought for over a season. How will these two little nuggets of discontent play out in the team? Probably not at all. Lisbon was going along with Jane’s ruse and joking around with him in the very next scene. But, at least they acknowledged that her biggest weakness is Patrick Jane. Baby steps. Next up on my list of “Ways to Jolt The Mentalist Out of Its CBS Procedural Rut,” make Jane wrong for once.

Other Thoughts:

  • The episode was directed by Roxann Dawson who I remember fondly from Star Trek: Voyager as B’Elanna Torres. She has become quite a prolific director.
  • Next week’s episode features the return of Morena Baccarin as Erica Flynn, a woman who unnerved Jane like no other. Yea!

What did everyone else think? Glad about Summer and Cho? Irritated or not about the lack of mention, even in passing, of the Red John bombshell? Do you think The Mentalist needs to jolt itself out of its procedural doldrums? If so, how would you do it?

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TV Review – The River (ABC)

Jack Nicholson in the famous “Here’s Johnny” scene

Image via Wikipedia

I started watching horror movies when I was 10 years old, most notably The Shining and Friday the 13th. This is all in thanks to my sister who, due to her lack of diligence back in 1979, my nephew (same age as I) and I spent pretty much all of my summer visit watching HBO. The Shining disturbed me; for years I had a fear of bathtubs with closed shower curtains, terrified that the decaying lady lurked behind the curtain, waiting patiently to pounce until I was in a vulnerable position. Friday the 13th decided me once and for all that summer camp was not all it was cracked up to be and that the absolute safest way to ensure survival against a serial killer bloodthirsty for teenagers was to not have premarital sex. As a result, I had few boyfriends but enormously happy parents.

While horror movies are part of my developmental years, I can’t say that I watch them with any regularity as an adult. I long outgrew the splatter movies (though I did enjoy Scream quite a bit, but not enough to watch the sequels) but I do love a good ghost story. You absolutely will not catch me in a Saw movie, but movies like The Ring and Paranormal Activity*, where the terror is more psychologocal and phantasmagorical is right up my alley. (Expect a review of The Woman in Black after I see it tomorrow.)

*Shockingly, I’ve only seen the third of these movies and I was extremely disappointed in it because it wasn’t scary enough. But, I love the style and psychological tension of it.

Cast of The River

So, it will be no surprise that I’ve been looking forward to the premier of The River (★★★★) and, by and large, the two hours I saw last night delivered just what I want in horror. I don’t need to see the boogieman, the implication him (or her) is just fine with me. Demonic possession? Check. Blood splatter on the wall that No One Sees? Check. A screeching spirit out for blood? Check. Shaky cameras that show you just enough to give you the impression of something wicked? Check. CREEPY DOLLS? DISCOUNT DOUBLE CHECK. This show has immediately become Must See TV.

I convinced my husband and two boys to watch it with me. My husband was out as soon as the demonic spirit showed up, calling it sci-fi. I’m sorry to say he doesn’t understand the fine line between sci-fi, fantasy and the supernatural. Despite this flaw, I still love him. My oldest declared that he loved it about 15 minutes in and then wouldn’t stop talking, spouting theories and opinions just about everything and not during commercial breaks. I had to gently chide him to shut up and listen. My youngest? Well, he had to sleep in his brother’s room, with a nightlight. Considering he’s been sleeping on the floor in our room for months, this is actually an improvement. (Plus, due to all the scary movies I watched as a kid, I slept on the floor in my parents room for way longer than I care to admit on the internet, so I ain’t one to be casting aspersions.)

The best news about this show is that the first season consists of only 8 episodes. The set up of the show – a documentary film crew is searching for a lost documentary film crew on the Amazon – would make a traditional 22 episode season very difficult to pull off. I’m not concerned with the audience’s suspension of disbelief regarding the “cameras everywhere” shooting style – we’re still following the characters of The Office around long after a real documentary crew would have tired of their lives and antics, after all. But the story set-up will make a long running series difficult. Of course, I thought that about Lost, too, and then they discovered a hatch on the island at the end of season one and the whole thing went off in a direction I never expected. Still, eight episodes will be enough to get people hooked and ready and excited for more. Here’s hoping the ratings are good enough for another 8 or 13 episode season.

Other Thoughts:

  • I am thrilled that we don’t have a pessimist on board the Magus. I would be a beat down of astronomical proportions if there was a Scully on board, constantly arguing a logical explanation for moving dolls heads because THERE ARE NO EXPLANATIONS FOR CREEPY DOLLS.
  • I love Leslie Hope and am thrilled that she’s found a show but I still miss Kristina Frye and want her to return to The Mentalist.
  • One little detail that I loved: Tess (Kristina Frye) showing such affection to her son, stroking his head, etc. A very realistic thing for a mother to do to her older son to show affection. I can guarantee that what she really wants to give him, but knows he is too old for, is a huge hug.
  • I got chills a couple of times during the two-hour premiere, but none so big as the end of episode two when Emmet Cole sees the birthmark on the young Lena’s neck in the same shape as the protective amulet he gave his son. My guess is that birthmark, and protection, is why Cole trusted Lena with the knowledge of what he was doing and not his family.
  • Hopefully the British born Joe Anderson (Lincoln Cole) will settle on an American accent soon. Here’s hoping, also, that the young Hispanic girl continues to only speak Spanish and not suddenly become bilingual.
  • Anyone else curious what Magus meant? It’s the singular for magi. Some of the synonyms for Magus: charmer, conjurer (or conjuror), enchanter, mage, Magian, magician, necromancer, sorcerer, voodoo, voodooist, witch, wizard

TV Review: The Mentalist 4.13 “Red is the New Black”

Poor Cho. He needs a storyline, pronto.

So, the secret is out. The tenacious Agent Darcy continued her investigation and discovered that the man Jane killed in the food court was not the real Red John. Does this mean that Darcy is, yet again, a target of Red John’s? It doesn’t seem so but who knows? I can’t figure out what Red John’s motivation for killing the morgue attendant and planting his body in Roslind’s house was. Why does Red John want the world to know he is alive?

Which brings up another good question: what is Red John’s end goal? Obviously, when he started killing he knew nothing of Patrick Jane. But, it seems that since Jane humiliated him on television and he took revenge through killing Jane’s family, RJ’s whole focus is playing a cat and mouse game with Jane. I suppose Red John gets a thrill out of besting Jane and the CBI. Though I don’t know why he isn’t bored by now. They are rather inept at catching him.

As much as I like the Red John aspect of the show, it is becoming problematic because of the complete lack of progress CBI is making. Do we know one useful bit of information about Red John now, four years later, than we did at the beginning? Not really. The CBI has made zero progress but Red John has been wildly successful in running rings around them. Heller and Company have created a teflon killer, someone who always slides out of every situation. He is so far ahead of the CBI and Jane that, at this rate, they have no chance of catching up.

I think it is about time for Red John to be revealed. Not caught, but revealed to the audience and even to Jane and the CBI. It’s time for the viewer to spend time with Red John to understand how he can manipulate so many people to do horrible things in his name. To understand how he is always one step ahead of Jane and CBI. To understand how he knows things he shouldn’t know. To make the viewer fall under his spell just like all of his minions do. As of now, he is an evil enigma, easy to hate because we don’t know him. If Heller and Company want to keep us engaged, they need to make us feel something for everyone involved, not just our heroes. The Mentalist‘s formula (boring case of the week, omniscient serial killer, inept investigators, recurring characters introduced only to be Red John minions) has gotten stale. Revealing Red John and making him a corporeal part of the show would add some much-needed spice. (As would the death of one of the five main characters, except Jane, of course.)

Other Thoughts:

  • I wonder if Rigsby‘s fear of fatherhood has to do with his childhood? I seem to remember some implication of abuse in the episode where Jane hypnotized him.
  • I pray, please God, not to let Rigsby’s fear have anything to do with him pining away for Grace. I am so over that storyline.
  • Jane had no idea who the killer was and Lisbon called him on it. Funny.
  • What happens to Jane now? He can’t be retried for killing Food Court Red John, can he? And what would be the charge in Panzer‘s death? Conspiracy?
  • The only way he could face charges for Panzer’s death is if Darcy proves he knew Red John was alive. How can she do that? Lisbon. Would Lisbon lie and say she didn’t know Red John was alive? I wouldn’t think she would but I don’t know.
  • Another Please God, No: Don’t make Darcy or the young LT minions of Red John. That’s been done to death.

TV Review The Mentalist 4.12: My Bloody Valentine – “Are you a ghost?”

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that The Mentalist will never be more than it is – a generally boring CBS procedural that, occasionally (read: during sweeps), trots out Red John for a ratings boost. The cases are uninteresting, the resolutions telegraphed from a mile away and nothing interesting or unexpected ever happens, or if it does, the fallout resolves within the space of the next episode or ignored until the next sweeps. My Bloody Valentine (★★) is the perfect example of a typical episode – a boring case of the week, just enough development of underused characters to fool the viewer into thinking they are making progress and an unexpected revelation designed to throw a wrench into a storyline that should have been resolved or abandoned a season ago.

Grace is the nominal centerpiece of the episode which means they have to manufacture a way to get her lost in the woods so she can talk to the ghost of the ex-boyfriend and Red John minion she killed at the end of Season Three. Luckily, they include a Chinese assassin posing as a whore to add a bit of comic relief to the proceedings, otherwise we would have had to sit through painfully obtuse conversations where we learn nothing significant or important about anything. Is Grace coming to terms with the fact that she about to marry a psychopath who was only interested in her as a way to get to Jane? Who knows? The fact that she kept the necklace given to her by her crazy dead fiance would indicate, “No.” Honestly, the only thing of significance to this entire story is the fact that she kept the necklace, draping it oh so artfully over the orchids on her desk. I’ve always thought that the necklace was some sort of bug to allow Red John inside the CBI. Now, instead of throwing it away, she put it right in the center of things. Sometimes, these people are so stupid you wonder how they can function in society.

The supposed to be interesting but not really Z plot has to do with Wayne Rigsby, his ongoing affection for Grace and his new girlfriend who drops the bombshell at the end of the episode that she is pregnant. OMG! What does that mean for requisite love affair on the show? Nothing, since Wayne is a stand up guy he definitely will stand by his girlfriend and though I think he’ll stop short of marrying her he will probably ask. I feel for the girl. She’s a sweet, if annoyingly nervous, character that deserves more than being Wayne’s second-choice behind Grace.

Other Thoughts:


  • I’m surprised it has taken three and a half seasons for the show to use the title, “My Bloody Valentine.”
  • Poor Cho. Talk about the most underdeveloped and underutilized character on the show. Over the course of three seasons he’s been given – what? – one background episode, chronic back pain and a hooker for a love interest. If I was Tim Kang, I’d be pissed.
  • I didn’t get a good look at the book Jane was reading at the end. Did anyone recognize it?
  • The case of the week was notable only in that Joaquim de Almeida was the mob boss. I always think of him as the Big Bad in Clear and Present Danger.
  • I watched Simon Baker on Letterman the other night. Wow, was that a horrible interview, through no fault of Baker’s. It reminds me why I dislike those late night shows so much. Letterman and Leno are horrible interviewers. Truly atrocious. I haven’t watched Fallon so I will reserve judgement on him.
  • Next week is a repeat. Here’s hoping they return with sweeps episodes, which are always of higher quality.

What did everyone else think of My Bloody Valentine? Am I being too harsh? Not harsh enough? Do you find these same weaknesses in the show? I would love to hear a different perspective.


TV Review: The Mentalist 4.11, “Always Bet on Red” – “She’s cute. This will be fun.”

The Mentalist almost did it. They were thisclose to having the team solve a case – a ridiculously pedestrian, uninteresting case – without a shred of Jane’s help.  Police work was being done. Leads followed. Suspects interviewed. Manipulative stings conceived and carried out without a hitch. All while Jane was distracted by something bigger and more sinister (more on that later). Instead of taking this golden opportunity to show that the CBI team could function in a world without Patrick Jane and solve a case  using the only tools that all other law enforcement officers have at their disposal, Jane comes in at the end and solves the case in 30 seconds or less. He gathered them all in the squad room, shook their hands, took their pulses, summed them up in one sentence or less and fingered the jealous, spurned longtime secret girlfriend as the killer. YAWN. But, whatever. Because the other part of the episode was so awesome, disturbing and riveting, I don’t even care.

After a few episodes , which in show time is only a few weeks according to Cho, FBI Agent Darcy (Catherine Dent) returns to interview Jane about the San Joaquin serial killer. She asks Jane point-blank if he is sure he killed Red John. Jane lies smoothly and Lisbon covers her reaction by drinking from her mug of tea. Poor Lisbon. I hope she never plays poker.  Darcy takes his word almost too easily. She is much more slyly perceptive than others that have tried to break Patrick Jane. For one thing, she isn’t confrontational or suspicious, merely professional. She knows that she’s just going on a hunch, a very logical one, and that she won’t ever get Jane to admit he didn’t kill Red John. There is no doubt that she is going to continue on this line of investigation.

Jane is arrogant enough to think Darcy will take his word for it and let the matter drop. Lisbon isn’t so sure. She advocates telling Darcy and the team that Jane didn’t kill Red John. Jane insists it is better than they keep that information between the two of them only, which exasperates and worries Lisbon in equal measure. When Red John sends the CBI a video of him stalking Darcy along with the text message, “She’s cute. This should be fun,” Jane and Grace run to the rescue and bust into Darcy’s hotel room only to find Darcy fine, in a towel. Heh. Lisbon’s worries skyrocket to anger and she accuses Jane of not telling Darcy about Red John being alive to keep Red John to himself. This is the closest these two have come to an all out fight, I think. Lisbon sees RJ stalking Darcy, especially the text message he sent Jane, as the serial killer forming a bond with Jane, that RJ saw Jane’s manipulation of Panzer as a signal to him. Can you blame Red John? Jane knew what he was doing with Panzer and, effectively, gave Red John the go ahead to come out of hiding and commit murder. Does Red John now think that Jane is playing the game with him? That Jane will enjoy watching him hunt his victims? The video and text message certainly indicate that as a possibility. Jane is terrified for Darcy (it’s telling that they both call each other by their first names) and, when the father of Panzer’s first victim commits suicide, Jane frames the dead man for killing Panzer to close the case and get Darcy off of Red John’s trail.

And, Lisbon just sat back and let him do it, even helped him. I’ve decided that she realizes when this is all said and done, when Patrick catches Red John, her career will be over. Everything that she let Jane get away with will come out; the fact that she knew Jane didn’t kill the real Red John will be out; the fact that he manipulated the death of a victim’s father to out maneuver Red John, and to thwart a FBI investigation will come out. And, those are just the things  he’s done this season. The ways that she has let him run roughshod over her are too numerous to number and attempt to detail. She isn’t even attempting to rein him in like she did in earlier seasons. If the viewer ever wondered if her feelings have deepened to something more than professional respect, the fact that a down to the bone, career focused law enforcement officer like Lisbon would risk her career for Jane’s vendetta should be proof enough.

Always Bet on Red (★★★★) showed Jane’s hubris, his belief that he can manipulate everyone and everything toward his goals. That he was doing it in this episode to protect Darcy hardly excuses the fact that he turned a dead man into a killer. His plan has many holes, one of which Darcy is quick enough to perceive – why would Meier stalk Darcy? Others will come out as Darcy continues to investigate Meier. Notably, a copy cat, which Meier is supposed to be, would have studied Red John minutely. No information like that will be found in Meier’s home. Red John will strike again and will confirm Darcy’s suspicions which will lead to her figuring out Jane’s manipulation, and Lisbon’s complicity.

Other Thoughts:

  • Always Bet on Red would have gotten five stars if the team had solved the case without Jane.
  • Jane and Lisbon assume Red John will leave Darcy alone now that the Panzer case is closed. I’m not sure why they believe that so fully because I don’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if he kills Darcy just to prove a point to Jane.
  • I didn’t like the character of Summer nearly as much this episode as I did before. So, she’s stopped hooking. What does she do for a living now? She still looks and dresses like a hooker.
  • There were a couple of places where Lisbon could have put a stop to Jane by revealing the truth about Red John but she didn’t. My guess is she’s decided she’s so far in it now that it is better to stay and try to temper Jane as much as possible, or at least try to be his conscience. She’s not doing a very good job of either, if you ask me.
  • By the way, I have found Kristina Frye.
  • “Because killing someone without government permission is wrong?”
  • “Great legs.”
  • “It was on the news, Lisbon.”
  • “Do you know how messed up that is?”
  • “Panzer. The gift that keeps on giving.”

TV Review: The Mentalist 4.10 “Fugue in Red” – “Are you putting me on?”

“We were all marks today.”

In the past, we’ve seen glimpses of Jane’s past but mainly through the eyes of the people that knew him then. Jane has always been a bit chagrined with his past behavior, clearly and loudly stating that there are no such things as psychics and owning up to the fact that he was a con man. This attitude made him sympathetic. Who doesn’t loved a reformed man with a killer grin and amazing hair? When Jane almost dies and loses his memory as a result, he reverts to his con man personality and the viewer sees just how this man provoked Red John.

In Fugue in Red (★★★), not only does Jane not remember his time with the CBI, but he has also blocked the memory of his wife and daughter, their death and everything about Red John. As a result, I assume his resulting personality change is a much earlier version of Patrick Jane, the ladies man that was always on the prowl. Simon Baker has a great time playing the rakish Jane, looking down Grace’s shirt, grabbing Lisbon’s ass, hitting on Lisbon (repeatedly) and using his “psychic” skills to cop a feel of a woman in a bar, prompting Grace to say, “I hate him.” Lisbon alternates between compassion at Jane’s memory loss and irritation and disgust at this incarnation of her friend. “That’s not him,” she says, defensively, though in the scene earlier she admits that this side of Jane was always there, buried underneath his grief.

Of the team, Lisbon is the most understanding and supportive. Jane alienates Cho when he ditches him during the investigation, Rigsby when Jane steals $63 from his wallet and asks him for tips on how to get in with Grace and Grace when he shows his womanizing side. Lisbon loyally stands by him, trying to do whatever Jane needs to jog his memory. She is even willing to stand aside and let him leave the CBI when he tells her that he just wants to be happy. Until the end when she realizes that he stole half of the ATM robbery money and used it to buy a diamond bracelet for some random woman Jane picked up. Lisbon knows that the Jane she knows would not want to return to that life, would not want to forget his wife and daughter and his quest for Red John. Taking him to his home and showing him Red John’s signature on his wall to make Jane remember is cruel, but necessary.

Other Thoughts:

  • Is it just me or was Lisbon wearing a larger cross in this episode? I thought the cross her mother gave her was pretty small.
  • Jane does a cold read on Lisbon when he first “meets” her after his near death experience. She tells the doctor it was very good. Was she just talking about the stuff about her mother or was she also referring to his reading that they’re working towards sleeping together (see next quote)? Let the debate begin!
  • “No, we’re not sleeping together.””But, we’re working towards it, right? So I haven’t missed anything.” Funny scene, all the way around.
  • Interesting that he uses Lisbon and Rigsby’s first names but calls Cho, Mr. Cho.
  • When Lisbon asks him, in disbelief, if he uses his wedding ring to get over on women Jane replies, “It worked on you.” I wonder if Jane will apologize to Lisbon for all of the moves he puts on her?
  • Jane seems surprised when Lisbon tells him she knows his tricks for remembering things. “We’re friends,” she replies. This episode does a wonderful job of showing how deep their friendship is.
  • Lisbon looks crushed when she realizes Jane stole the money and devastated when she watches him walk down the hall to the room where his family was killed.
  • Simon Baker will probably never get recognized for his work on The Mentalist but his emotions on his face when he remembered broke my heart. Tunney was awesome in the scene as well.
  • “I catch bad guys? Wow, that sounds like fun.”
  • “The closest a guy should ever come to a fitted sweater is getting a woman out of one.”
  • “I hate him.” “That’s not him.”
  • “Fair enough. I’ll miss you but I’ll leave you alone.”

I’m bummed this is the last episode until January. It was a good way to go into the break. What did everyone else think?

TV Review: The Mentalist 4.09 “The Redshirt” – “I like that boom boom pow.”

It's only a matter of time before Red John targets Lisbon to get at Jane.

One of these days, I would like for The Mentalist to have an episode where there is no case, where the team is sitting around, bored to tears, and everything focuses on the interpersonal relationships and personalities of the characters. Honestly, sometimes the mysteries are so slight an uninteresting that they just get in the way of the characters.  “The Redshirt” (★★) is just that kind of episode. The mystery is so dull that I thought of turning off the television halfway in but the character bits sprinkled among the dregs of  the whodunit almost made up for it.

Rigsby digs the Petite Defense Attorney, in fact is turned on by her passion to defend the very people he works so hard to put away. Wayne, I have bad news for you – you don’t have the personality type that will allow you to stay with someone long term that is so at odds with your worldview. I like PDA (heh), too, but this will not last. Cho is still suffering from back pain and is addicted to pain pills. Poor guy. Of course, his taciturn demeanor means that no one will realize the latter until he is deep into his addiction. Van Pelt has moved from anger to humor regarding her luck with men. I wonder what the next phase will be? Lisbon cannot say no to Jane. Her pleading expression when he asked her, early on, to go along with his con was borderline pathetic. Where has our tough as nails Agent Lisbon gone? Probably in the bin along with her Lisbon Loafers. The New Guy In Charge, so inconsequential that I refuse to IMDB his name, showed his inexperience tonight. I’m not sure why he was even in the episode.

The best parts of the episode was a guest star in two scenes, Ashley Williams, whose goal seems to be to guest star on every show on television this year; the final scene with Lisbon and Jane sharing an ice cream sundae (!!); and the preview for next week’s episode that hints at Jane conning the team into believing he has amnesia. That should be a good episode.

Other Thoughts:

  • Clearly, they are laying the foundation for a deeper relationship between Lisbon and Jane. (Do I say this every week?) There have been too many little scenes like the ice cream sundae scene, the way Jane positively lights up when he sees Lisbon, that I Know I’m Powerless Against You look of Lisbon’s. Next week’s preview adds more fuel to that fire, too.
  • No mention of Red John.
  • Or Kristina Frye.
  • “I shot and killed my last boyfriend. Not ready for a relationship yet.”

What did everyone else think of the episode? Would you like to see an episode where there isn’t a case to distract from the characters?