The Mentalist I didn't think I had room in my heart for another banter-y, clever mystery series with an appeal based half in its creepy crimes and… The Mentalist I didn't think I had room in my heart for another banter-y, clever mystery series with an appeal based half in its creepy crimes and… 2008-09-23 Simon Baker Robin Tunney
TV Review

The Mentalist (2008)

Simon Baker, The Mentalist | HE KNOWS WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND The Mentalist 's Baker
Image credit: Cliff Lipson
HE KNOWS WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND The Mentalist's Baker
EW's GRADE
B

Details Start Date: Sep 23, 2008; With: Simon Baker and Robin Tunney

I didn't think I had room in my heart for another banter-y, clever mystery series with an appeal based half in its creepy crimes and half in the lead actors' pure chemistry; Bones was filling that space just fine. But The Mentalist is going on my Season Pass. Starring Simon Baker (The Guardian) as a bogus TV psychic who got his family murdered by the serial killer he pretended to profile, The Mentalist is smart enough to know how silly its premise is. Baker's Patrick Jane now uses his people-reading ability for good, as a consultant to the California Bureau of Investigation. And perhaps anticipating audience response, almost everyone around Patrick gives him a good preemptive eye-rolling. As his dubious cop boss, Robin Tunney (Prison Break), she of the wistful eyebrows, is bemused or annoyed accordingly, and the two have a crisp, charming camaraderie.

Patrick's accomplishments vary from the seriously obvious (at one crime scene, he sees a photo that screams, ''My dad is a pervert,'' and is able to deduce that Dad is a pervert) to the unlikely (beating a man at every turn of Rock Paper Scissors). But the tricks he performs are overshadowed by the glee with which Baker performs them. Like any good grifter, he gets a genuine thrill out of entertaining, manipulating, or confusing people. With his rapid, just-above-a-whisper cadence and cucumber-cool reactions, Baker reminds you of Val Kilmer in his spry Real Genius days, but with really great hair. It's a mesmerizing little act. B

Sign up for EW.com's What to Watch Newsletter!

What to watch on TV. Hear what's on tap for the night ahead and get witty, morning after recaps of top shows (sent weekday mornings).
Originally posted Sep 17, 2008 Published in issue #1013 Sep 26, 2008 Order article reprints