I am very partial to only a few television shows. I really like the Thursday night lineup on NBC (still, after all these years) but I always am careful to switch over to CBS at 10PM as I am also quite fond of “The Mentalist.” I really love the cool, congenial air of the main character, Patrick Jane, whose careful powers of observation always lead him down a successful road in the end. The writing on “The Mentalist” is some of the smartest and tightest I’ve seen in the endless dreck of “cop shows,” maybe even since the groundbreaking chemistry of the duo played by Jimmy Smits and Dennis Franz on “NYPD Blue.” With “The Mentalist” it remains to be seen where the road will carry us; much of the plots of late have fallen into a bit of the trap of predictability. However something that happened on this past week’s episode (Season 2, episode 7, “Red Bulls”) left me and my dear wife chuckling.
My wife was the one who turned me on to another CBS show “NCIS;” this was simply because she began a semi-regular stint as a member of the office staff on the show. She’ll be quick to tell you that she’s just a “background actor” at present, but I still thought it was pretty cool. I don’t know how I missed “NCIS” for so many years; the writing is good though the plots can be pretty predictable; the acting is great and the suspense can sometimes catch up with you in spite of yourself. I’ve done my best to catch up on the series, what with USA Network and local cable running the show 10 hours a day; I’ve got “NCIS” anytime of the day I like.
On the show, Mark Harmon as the grizzled Leroy Jethro Gibbs sets the tempo for his band of misfit NCIS officers. Harmon’s no-nonsense ethos brings to mind the “Go-ahead-make-my-day,” aesthetic of Clint Eastwood and others. Gibbs works above a handful of sometimes misguided officers; one of the moves he makes to keep the male member s of his team in line when they stray is the discipline move to slap them upside the back of their head.
(SPOILER ALERT) On tonight’s episode of “The Mentalist,” Officer Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) was shot three times in her bullet proof vest while trying to apprehend this episodes suspect. She and her perhaps love interest, Officer Rigsby (Owain Yeoman), had been talking just prior to the shooting and she had presciently pleaded with him that he should wear his vest too. He callously turned his nose up at her; the fact that she was shot three times right in the chest was not lost on Rigsby. As Van Pelt was recovering, Rigsby approached her and offered his condolences…when Van Pelt smacked Rigsby upside the back of his head!
I know they’re both on the same network and I know imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but if it becomes a regular thing on “The Mentalist,” where they borrow signature moves of other shows, this could turn viewers away.