“The Mentalist”: First impressions

More first impressions** on the new crop for 2008-09, starting with CBS because they were the first to get Mentalist their pilots out post-upfront — probably because they had more completed pilots than any other net.

(Click here for the previous First Impressions post on “Ex List,” “Project Gary” and “Worst Week.”)

The Mentalist

PRO:

Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Snappy writing makes it a cut above the patented CBS procedural drama, this time focusing on one-time purported psychic whose wife and child were slaughtered by a serial killer. Reformed sham artist now uses his keen powers of observation to help a team from the California Bureau of Investigation solve really hairy and heinous crimes. Think “Monk” without the neuroses, played with depth by Baker.

Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Great scene with the investigative team members discussing the case at seafood restaurant gives us a lot of interesting character traits in a short amount of time without clubbing us over the head with exposition.

Nice direction by David “pilot zen master” Nutter.

CON:

A little CBS-formulaic in its execution in parts, starting with Robin Tunney’s tough-as-nails team leader character.

Who’s ever heard of the California Bureau of Investigation?

Character name of the cute rookie member of the investigative team, Grace Van Pelt (played by Amanda Righetti), makes us think of Lucy Van Pelt and the rest of the Peanuts gang.

**Once again, these are first impressions, and not meant to be a review or hit-or-miss declaration. At this stage of the game, pilots for new fall series are still very much works in progress.

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