Friday, March 27, 2009

Last night on Five: The Mentalist

I've always wondered what would happen if Derren Brown decided Channel 4 wasn't big enough for him and started using his awesome powers of psychological illusionism for evildoing. Presumably he'd have his hands on millions of pounds and would have recruited an army of hypnotised mercenaries before you could say, "look into my eyes…" 

Five's glossy new US import – we know this is a quality drama, because its supporting cast includes two 24 stars and one former West Wing actor – imagines what would happen if Derren had the sunswept good looks of a Lost cast member and got a job as a homicide detective in California.

Simon Baker plays enigmatic Patrick Jane, a former phoney TV psychic who's given up his fraudulent ways and turned cop. We first meet him at the crime scene of a murdered young girl. Within seconds of the family's press conference, he's earned the trust of the grieving mother byguessing her favourite colour and so on – "You really only pretend to like skiing... you love India, but you've never been there" – and solves the case in true maverick fashion. "You're psychic?" she asks. "No," he laughs. "Just paying attention."

Baker is good, giving Jane a self-assurance which just about manages not to spill over into cockiness and a calm, ethereal air, meaning that even when he makes a ham and cheese sandwich, it seems mysterious and unknowable.

You'll see echoes of Life (kooky cop tussles with his uptight female partner) and moments of Dexter (each show has individual crimes to solve, but with an overarching serial killer case to tie it all together), but this opener seems to have a personality all of its own. And, irrespective of all of the above, how can you not love a show with a title like The Mentalist, when it's directed by someone called David Nutter?

by Will Parkhouse

Originally published on Orange.co.uk 

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