The Mentalist is an American police procedural television series that debuted on September 23, 2008, on CBS. The show was created by Bruno Heller, who is also its executive producer. The show follows former "psychic" Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), who is a consultant to the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) (and beginning with season six, the FBI), using the highly developed observational skills he previously employed to "read" people's minds.
On May 10, 2014, CBS renewed the series for a seventh season, though it will come back at mid-season.
The series follows Patrick Jane, an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) based in Sacramento, California. Although not an officer of the law, he uses skills from his former career as a successful yet admittedly fraudulent psychic medium to help a team of CBI agents solve murders. The ultimate goal of Patrick Jane in his cooperation with the CBI is to track down the killer known as "Red John", who was responsible for the brutal murders of his wife and daughter.
Jane formerly had a lucrative career as a con man, successfully posing as a psychic medium and enjoying near-celebrity status. Five years before the events in the show's pilot episode, he appeared on television to claim that his paranormal abilities helped the police profile a serial killer named Red John. Red John, angered by the perceived slight, murdered Jane's wife and young daughter in revenge.
Jane subsequently abandoned his job as a psychic and teamed with the CBI, using his skills to help them solve various crimes. His main focus is on the cases involving Red John or Red John copycats. He admits to faking the supernatural aspects of his skills, often asserting that "there's no such thing as psychics," yet he has finely honed skills in cold reading, hypnosis, and pickpocketing, as well as powerful observational skill and a deep insight into the human psyche and behavior.
His last act at CBI was to finally find Red John and kill him. After spending two years off the grid, Jane cut a deal with the FBI to work for them, bringing with him former CBI Senior Agent Teresa Lisbon, the only person who seems to be able to keep Jane's theatrics and lack of boundaries under control. Jane and Lisbon work with their former fellow CBI agent Kimball Cho, FBI Agent Kim Fischer, are supervised by the no-nonsense Agent Dennis Abbott and are now based in Austin, Texas. The rest of the former CBI team, Wayne Rigsby and Grace Van Pelt, have started their own security firm, but keep in touch with their former colleagues.
Production and distribution
The show often sets episodes in fictional locales with names like Salinger Mill and Rancho Rosa. Like the majority of American television shows, The Mentalist is mostly filmed within the studio zone in Los Angeles County, but occasionally films a few scenes on location in Sacramento. The structure used to represent the CBI headquarters in Sacramento is the back of the Pico House in downtown Los Angeles. On October 15, 2008, CBS ordered the first season of The Mentalist and the show has subsequently been renewed annually since 2010 both in the domestic market and overseas.
TNT began syndicating The Mentalist in the fall of 2011.
In November 2013, it was confirmed that Amanda Righetti and Owain Yeoman would be leaving after season six concluded.
Simon Baker as Patrick Jane—the show's protagonist and the titular mentalist. Jane spent his childhood in traveling carnivals with his mean-spirited con-man father who taught him to see all outsiders as marks. After meeting his wife, Angela Ruskin, who was also a carny, the pair left carnival life. Honing the skills his father taught him, Jane became a successful psychic and medium. Jane, using his 'psychic' skills, went on television and gave an unflattering profile of the serial killer Red John. Red John retaliated by killing Jane's wife and daughter, Angela and Charlotte Jane. Patrick suffered a mental breakdown and was hospitalized. After leaving the hospital he decides to work as a criminal consultant for CBI so he can stay close to the Red John case in hope of finding Red John so he can, as he told Teresa Lisbon, "kill him". He has developed close friendships with his colleagues, especially his boss, Senior Special Agent Teresa Lisbon. He is driven by inconsolable remorse over the deaths of his wife and daughter, and while he usually presents a jocular, teasing face, he shows his darker side when dealing with his nemesis. At those times, Jane becomes intense, focused, and willing to go to great lengths to capture and even kill him. He owns a classic French automobile, a robin's egg blue Citroën DS 21 Pallas as a tribute to the series Columbo in which Lt. Columbo owns a Peugeot 403, and is an avid tea drinker like Hercule Poirot.
Robin Tunney as Senior Special Agent Teresa Lisbon—a senior special agent with the CBI and leader of the Serious Crime Unit. Though Jane often annoys her with his unusual behavior, she views him as a valuable member of the team. Likewise, she is the only member of the team Jane trusts with details of his past. Lisbon's mother was killed in a drunk driving accident, leaving her to care for her brothers and her abusive, alcoholic father. Her team is responsible for the Red John case, although the responsibility for catching Red John was taken over briefly by Sam Bosco, her mentor when she was a junior agent, until he and his team were murdered by one of Red John's operatives. Lisbon is captured by Red John in the episode "The Desert Rose".
Tim Kang as Special Agent Kimball Cho—a special agent with the CBI and a member of Lisbon's Serious Crime Unit. Cho has a dry, deadpan sense of humor and is good friends with team member Special Agent Wayne Rigsby. He is often the one who sees through Patrick's parlor tricks. Although he was secretly called Ernie by the Bosco team (who also refer to Rigsby as Bert), Cho claims not to mind as "Ernie's the clever, handsome one". He was a member of a street gang, the Avon Park Playboys, which garnered him a juvenile, though sealed, record and time in juvenile hall. He enlisted in the Army, serving in the Special Forces, before becoming a police officer. Because of his difficult childhood, Cho often tries to befriend young people who have committed crimes but are not yet lost causes.
Owain Yeoman as Special Agent Wayne Rigsby—a special agent with the CBI and a member of Lisbon's Serious Crime Unit. Rigsby serves as the team's arson specialist, leaning on his two years as a San Diego arson investigator. Rigsby is good friends with Cho and has developed romantic feelings for another team member, Grace Van Pelt. Although against regulations, the two began seeing each other secretly. Although the pair later ended the relationship, after it became public, to protect both of their careers, they remained close friends, until their wedding in season six. Rigsby has had to endure various professional and personal difficulties as a result of the actions of his father, a former career criminal involved in a notorious biker gang.
Amanda Righetti as Special Agent Grace Van Pelt—a special agent with the CBI and a member of Lisbon's Serious Crime Unit, she is the team's newest member. She has a deep belief in spirituality and mysticism and will butt heads with Patrick when he dismisses supposedly psychic phenomena or otherwise does or says something offensive or inappropriate. She continued to be close to Rigsby even after their romance ended. She has a subdued personality and is very organized, which leads Jane to deduce during the first season that this is because she is hiding some deep emotional trauma. She was engaged to FBI Agent Craig O'Laughlin, whom she was forced to kill after he was revealed to be a Red John operative intent on killing Teresa Lisbon and Madeline Hightower. She and Rigsby eventually rekindle their relationship and are married in season six.
Rockmond Dunbar as Supervisory Special Agent Dennis Abbott—a supervisory agent with the FBI in the field office in Austin, Texas.
Emily Swallow as Special Agent Kim Fischer—a by-the-books agent of the FBI and Abbott's subordinate.
The pilot episode had an audience of 15.6 million viewers in its first airing, and 7.8 million in a re-airing three days later. The December 2, 2008 episode, "Flame Red", was the highest-rated television show of the week, marking the first time a program in its first season had achieved that distinction since Desperate Housewives four years earlier.