I’m not an accredited psychiatrist (not any more!), but I’m pretty sure that when you’re faced with a naked man who is convinced he’s surrounded by giant evil lizards, it’s not a good idea to strip off yourself and reinforce his delusions. But that’s exactly what Dr. Jack Gallagher (Prison Break‘s Chris Vance) does at the start of Fox’s Mental, which debuted last night. The show concerns an outside-the-box-thinking headshrinker determined to SHAKE THINGS UP!!! at the L.A. hospital where he is the new director of mental health services.
There are plenty of things to complain about with this cliche-filled and clunkily written project (check out Ken Tucker’s review for some of them). But, for me, the real problem is that it’s rather hard to root for someone whose unorthodox ways — Let’s invite patients to staff meetings! Let’s break into the house of a patient’s sister to get the scoop on what’s wrong with him! Let’s get nekkid and prepare to fight The Great Lizard War! — might well do more harm than good in the real world. Mental would dearly like to remind you of ER or House. What it actually called to my mind was an episode of Family Guy in which Lois rescues her brother from a psychiatric facility only for her sibling to go on a fat-guy-killing spree.
You don’t have to be mad to like Mental. But it would help.