I started watching The Mentalist on CBS from the very beginning. I was already a fan of Simon Baker from “The Devil Wears Prada” (he played the suave Englishman who woos Ann Hathaway from her chef boyfriend), and I am a student of hypnosis. The first season had lots of hijinks around hypnotic suggestion, intuition and telepathy. The show opener included a definition of Mentalist as someone who uses the the powers of the mind. All this seems to have faded away.
The show is one of the few that CBS has in the Top 10, and it is interesting to see how it has evolved. The hypnosis stuff had pretty much disappeared by the second season, replaced with the “fake psychic” riff from “Psych” which does it better. The very first episodes established Simon Baker as a man adrift after the brutal murder of his wife and daughter by Red John. He was bent on revenge and found shelter with a rag-tag team of Sacramento investigators looking for the same murderer.
Now the through-line about Red John is very light. Patrick Jane is no longer a troubled man with a charlatan’s past, he just seems to be rude to suspects and badly behaved during investigations. And the biggest surprise of late is the inclusion of movie-star Malcom McDowell who plays an L. Ron Hubbard-like leader of a religious cult.
There have been so many movie stars crossing over to TV of late. I like it but I don’t understand why it is happening. Did the SAG, AFTRA union rules change?