Film Review: The Pilot Episode to The Mentalist

by DerdriuMarriner

The pilot episode to the police procedural TV series The Mentalist has sure-fire recipes for longevity in best-qualified actors, California look, daring acts, and edgy walk-talks.

Listening includes noticing how and what people say

The pilot to a television series accomplishes its purpose when many viewers expect seven years worth of fall through spring episodes and help product profitability through unrecompensed social marketing. The debut episode to The Mentalist brings together all of the finer elements conducive to success:
• attention to action, characters, dialogue, props, and venues;
• match of best actor/actress to role; and
• respect for timeliness and timing.

For example, the storyline concerns a committed quartet of best-qualified agents within the California Bureau of Investigation and their case-closing reputation thanks to consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), a cold-reading, good-guessing, super-attentive, trick-playing, ultra-observant ex-psychic whose astuteness gets him paid to solve complex crimes and track serial super-killer Red John (Xander Berkeley).




Simon Baker plays Patrick Jane, an inscrutable and tormented widower whose successful strategies for closing cases usually baffle his by-the-book partners in crime solving.

December 21, 2008
December 21, 2008

Looking indicates processing how and when people look


Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) deals with two crimes. The murder in Los Angeles ends up exonerating McCluskey -- who finds the body -- because of:

  • Juniper Tolliver (Gail O’Grady) sharing chamomile lemon spirit tea with Patrick -- who ambles into the kitchen for a cheese and roast beef rye sandwich -- and shooting her husband (Steven Culp) for murdering their daughter; and
  • Mercy Tolliver writing Morgan’s incest and threats into her diary.

Patrick finds himself with mandated leave. In violation of standard operating procedures, he gets called back a week early by Agent Kimball Cho (Tim Kang) since CBI forensic pathologist Brett Partridge (Jack Plotnick) declares the double murder in Palm Springs Red John’s work. 


Red Smiley Face: perverse calling card of Patrick Jane's nemesis, Red John

Red John's calling card

Luring involves recognizing how and where people crash


The medical examiner (Tara Karsian) has the massacred bodies of 27-year-old Alison Randolph (Mary Alexandra Stiefvater) and 43-year-old Dr. Gregory Tannen, a family friend and medical co-practitioner with Dr. Linus Wagner (Željko Ivanek). As Senior Agent, Teresa is in agreement with Agents Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) in working the evidence of:

  • Alison getting a year’s supply of birth control pills from Gregory despite husband Price (Jeffrey Nordling) having a vasectomy since April 2002;
  • Price’s brother Tag (Tim Guinee) having an affair with Alison; and
  • Tag’s hair in an envelope whose letter purportedly is written to Patrick from Red John in Alison’s blood.

They judge as possible one of two brother-perpetrated scenarios. 


Robin Tunney plays Teresa Lisbon, by-the-book Special Agent with the California Bureau of Investigation.

December 21, 2008
December 21, 2008

Lying is thinking how, when, where, why me?


Patrick alone knows that neither brother temporarily exited Fresno’s golf tournament to round-trip a no-witness killing. He lets Linus think that a fake diary -- which has the refrain “Confess” throughout the text -- is Gregory’s. Linus mentions as motives:

  • Alison serving as a prop in a Red John-styled murder; and
  • Gregory uncovering his embezzling money for Africa-based projects.

So The Mentalist’s pilot provides 45 educationally entertaining minutes through top-notch acting, crime-solving, plot-advancing, and script-writing, thanks to:

  • Christopher Cibelli, editor;
  • Charlie Goldstein and Eoghan Mahony, producers;
  • Bruno Heller, creator/executive producer/writer;
  • Geary McLeod and Bill Roe, photography directors;
  • Blake Neely, musician;
  • David Nutter, director/executive producer; and
  • Venues in Burbank at Warner Brothers Studios Stage 14 and Palm Springs. 


The Mentalist: The Complete First Season ~ available via Amazon Instant Video ~ Buy with 1-Click®

The Mentalist

The Mentalist: Season 1 ~ available via Amazon

The Mentalist series




My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.


Despite the obvious pain of his losses, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) traces an inscrutable emotional arc in his social interactions.

April 3, 2014
April 3, 2014
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

The Mentalist - Definition: black t-shirt ~ available via AllPosters

The Mentalist - Definition
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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 01/03/2022, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 06/04/2015

Mira, Please let me know what you think of the series when you can view it. Simon Baker is so endearing that it's a shock to recall that he actually can play an unlikeable person (in "Margin Call" by J.C. Chandor).

Mira on 05/28/2015

I just searched the @British catalogue and they don't have the Mentalist. Amazon UK has seasons 1-6 for 39.99 pounds. I'll put it on the waiting list :)

DerdriuMarriner on 05/28/2015

Mira, I hope that it all sorts out.
The first five seasons may be the easiest since they're the highest regarded in the series. Internet articles and comments show some indication of minor disappointment in the sixth and seventh seasons because of one group of fans finding romance between two characters plausible and others not.
As for me, I find the series educationally entertaining, particularly when Simon Baker adds directing and producing to his standard acting inputs into the series.

Mira on 05/28/2015

Interesting comment. I'll look for it at the British Council Library, but they may not have the complete edition yet. Still, they may have some of the seasons.

DerdriuMarriner on 05/28/2015

Yes, it's a well-acted, well-written series which ended in February 2015. The final, seventh season in fact is already available on DVD since the series has quite a fan base. Simon Baker not only provides compelling interpretations of an endearing character, but also directorial and production inputs into a number of the episodes.

Mira on 05/26/2015

I've seen Simon Baker on TV but I didn't know his name, nor had I heard of The Mentalist. It sounds like a well-written, well-acted series.

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