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New Boss at the CBI on CBS’s “The Mentalist”

Herman and I have been watching this CBS hour-long, police/mental acuity drama which airs locally Thursday nights at 10 p.m. This is quite a divergent choice for me in that I really like shows like “Brothers and Sisters,” ABC Sunday Morning and “The Good Wife.” My theme of choice is romantic comedies of which none of the above listed shows qualify. I would have to say I’m drawn towards angst-ridden shows about families, relationships and drama.

“The Mentalist” stars Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, a former con man who is an integral piece of police investigation due to his abilities to read people beyond their words. Interestingly enough, I thought Baker was an American actor. Upon hearing his voice in an English television interview, I was surprised to hear his Australian accent and demeanor. It reminds me of how well Hugh Lorey has been able to Americanize his British accent for “House.”

I must say if it hadn’t been for Herman’s influence I probably wouldn’t have started watching this show, but he tends to pick shows well. This show is a perfect example of that.

What I am most drawn to in both film and television is the interplay and relationships between the characters – especially in the ensemble cast you see week after week.

As a subplot, two of the detectives on the CBI team were romantically linked for several episodes. When the new boss sees their alliance, she states the rules won’t allow the relationship to continue and either they must end it or one must transfer to another office. Suffice it to say, they are still both on the team, leaving further plot twists open in the future.

Jane’s partner, Agent Lisbon, played by Robin Tunney is a good “straight man” to Baker’s character and his idiosyncrasies. In the last two episodes, we the audience are introduced to a new boss after their former boss had been killed. I was very intrigued by the interplay between Jane and the new boss, who clearly have respect for one another and neither one is willing to give any ground.

The characters’ relationships are the common ground I have in both comedies and dramas. If I don’t care for the characters or can’t relate to them, I probably won’t like the show no matter what else goes on.  The pace is brisk and the writers pack a lot into a 60-minute show. So much so I pepper Herman with questions and make him rewind parts on our DVR so I can understand what is happening.  I think this is a change in modern TV shows where a lot is expected of the audience.

So rarely do Herman and I have a show in common as he tends to lean towards action and adventure as well as British mysteries and comedies. Whereas I have a very difficult time grasping the clipped, British dialect and am frankly bored by action scenes.

So, from the early days of the show “Alias,” and now onto “The Mentalist” I am finding my tastes changing and broadening. Check out the show if you haven’t already.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site