The Mentalist is one of those shows, on for so many years that some may take it for granted. But the series, which debuted in 2008, like its star, Simon Baker, has many charms. The recent DVD release of The Mentalist: The Complete Fifth Season, chronicles lead character Patrick Jane’s continuing search for the serial killer Red John, who ten years ago murdered his family.
Patrick Jane (Baker) was raised in carnivals and trained as a psychic medium. He appeared on television boasting that his psychic abilities helped the police profile Red John, who, insulted by the perceived taunting, retaliated by killing Jane’s wife and young daughter. Since that tragedy, Jane has worked as a consultant, using his “psychic” skills to assist the Sacramento-based California Bureau of Investigation (CBI), as they track criminals, Red John copycat murderers, and hopefully, the elusive Red John himself. Jane debunks just about every other psychic that he meets, but he is an excellent reader of human emotions and whatever secrets people he meets may be hiding. He is so skillful that he appears at times to be reading people’s minds, but Jane would be the first to exclaim, “There’s no such thing as psychics.”
As the fifth season opens, Jane and his team are trying to use Red John’s accomplice Lorelei Martins (Emmanuelle Chriqui) to help track the killer. As fascinating as the continuing hunt for Red John may be, the real strengths of The Mentalist are in the witty repartee of Jane with his colleagues:
Special Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) — Jane’s boss, and also the closest thing he has to a friend. Lisbon has a tough-as-nails exterior, but she cares about Jane and her team. She and Jane frequently spar verbally, (sometimes constantly) but each knows they have the other’s back.
Special Agent Kimball Cho (Tim Kang) — Cho is always on the lookout for the “trick” behind Jane’s interrogation techniques, and his dry sense of humor is a nice counterpoint to Jane’s perpetual desire for one-upmanship.
Special Agent Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) — Best buddy to Cho and in an on-agin, off-again relationship with fellow agent Grace Van Pelt, Rigsby is frequently put in the position of being Jane’s “muscle.”
Special Agent Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti) — Van Pelt actually has a deep belief in the spiritual, and even is open to the supernatural. She frequently challenges Jane when he tries to scoff at events or occurrences that are not easily or immediately explainable.
The video displays with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1; Dolby Digital 5.1 provides for a crisp soundscape. Subtitles available in Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, French, and in English for the hearing impaired.
The Mentalist: The Complete Fifth Season includes a fold-out booklet with a brief synopsis of each episode, as well as cast photos. Extras on the discs include: “The Artistry of Action: From Script to Screen,” a behind-the-scenes featurette with show creators Bruno Heller and Chris Long; and “Arresting Excitement: Keeping It Real with the CBI,” a short feature on police training for the actors, featuring Tim Kang and Owain Yeoman.
Keeping up with the tradition of the rest of the series, each of the fifth season’s 22 episodes reflect Jane’s continuing obsession with Red John by including the word “red” or a red object in each title:
“The Crimson Ticket”
“Not One Red Cent”
“If It Bleeds, It Leads”
“Red Sails in the Sunset”
“Days of Wine and Roses”
“Little Red Corvette”
“The Red Barn”
“Red in Tooth and Claw”
“Red Lacquer Nail Polish”
“There Will Be Blood”
“Red, White and Blue”
“Behind the Red Curtain”
“Red Letter Day”
“Red Velvet Cupcakes”
“Red and Itchy”
“Red John’s Rules”
As season five concludes, Jane may not have completely zeroed in on his prey, but he has certainly narrowed down his list of possible suspects, including some of the series’ most well-known guest stars, like Malcolm McDowell. Recurring characters are also on his list – including law enforcement officials in the FBI (Drew Powell), Homeland Security (Kevin Corrigan), or local police (Xander Berkeley). Season Six of The Mentalist is currently airing, with Jane finally getting his man, but no spoilers as to Red John’s identity here.
The Mentalist’s strongest suit is its characters, and how cleverly Jane & Co. solve cases along the way to their finding Red John. Baker and Tunney have a truly great rapport, and although there is from time to time a spark between them, The Mentalist has wisely avoided the Moonlighting route and kept them as friends and colleagues. The show has left the difficulties of inter-office romance to Agents Rigsby and Van Pelt. Whether one has been a fan from the beginning, or just catching up now with The Mentalist, Simon Baker and his colleagues will charm and entertain viewers.