Some television greats need to know when to stop
Have you ever met with a friend after many years apart, only to regret it within moments of sitting down? Have they changed? Or you? Or did you ever really have that much in common in the first place? That’s how I felt after I attempted to become reacquainted with The Mentalist.
For those who like their crime drama to be breezily formulaic and dependably easy viewing, this acme of US network fodder once ticked all the boxes. Simon Baker lathered on the lazy charisma in the role of Patrick Jane, the crime consultant who, with his preternatural analytical gifts, is one part clairvoyant, one part Sherlock Holmes. While he’d dazzle us with intellectual sleight of hand to reveal each week’s culprit, the episode would be spiced up with his banter with colleagues, especially the amusingly fractious exchanges with his boss, agent Teresa Lisbon.
Fast-forward to now and I’m asking myself what I ever saw in Jane and his friends. As The Mentalist creaks into its seventh season, the writers have gone down the fatal path of ignoring the old edict, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ Suddenly, Jane and Lisbon are an item – yeuch – even if they are trying to keep their romance a secret. You might as well pair up Holmes and Watson in a thoroughly modern marriage. Still, I’m tempted to give it a go again next week. You never know, The Mentalist and me: we just might rekindle that old flame.