I started watching The Mentalist fairly early in its debut season. I had heard of two new CBS shows: Eleventh Hour and The Mentalist. I wanted something new to watch and I liked Rufus Sewell in everything I’d ever seen him in so I chose Eleventh Hour. After suffering through three episodes, however, the stories just didn’t hold me. The characters were uninteresting. Still wanting something new to watch, I decided to try that other new CBS show I’d heard about, the one airing after NCIS.
I was hooked from the first episode and within about a month The Mentalist became a higher priority for me than was NCIS. Unfortunately, the fact that Warner Bros. didn’t (and still doesn’t) allow CBS to put The Mentalist online meant that I saw each of the season 1 episodes only once. This, I think, prevented me from becoming totally captivated by the show. Still, I had enjoyed it enough that I knew I wanted the DVDs.
After rewatching season 1 on DVD over the holidays, The Mentalist is my favorite tv show.
If you decide to watch The Mentalist, do me a favor and give it at least two or three episodes before you make up your mind. Though I said I was hooked from the pilot, there were some things about the characters that I didn’t really get or truly appreciate until several episodes in. This is definitely a show where your appreciation and understanding of it grows as you get to know the characters a little better.
Like NCIS, The Mentalist is a character-centric show in that it focuses on the interactions between the characters, not their personal lives. Like NCIS, you get little glimpses into their personal lives, but that is rarely the focus. At the same time, however, the interactions between the main cast are very much the bigger story than the case of the week. Anyone who enjoys the camaraderie and humor between the NCIS team can probably come to find the same thing between the cast of The Mentalist. And if it’s drama you’re looking for, each of the Red John episodes have provided one of the best hours (ok, 43 minutes) of television I’ve ever watched.