Watching the series premiere of The Mentalist, I kept getting the feeling that I'd seen it somewhere before. A fake psychic, working with the police, is driven by the need to apprehend the serial killer who murdered his family. Then, it hit me - if Profiler and Psych had a bastard love child, it would be this show.
For those of you who don't remember, Profiler was the story of Dr. Samantha Waters, a detective with the Violent Crimes Task Force whose husband was murdered by a serial killer known as Jack of All Trades. Sam was a "real" psychic - when she visited the crime scene, she would get flashbacks of the murder. On the other end of the paranormal spectrum, you have Psych. Shawn Spencer pretends to be a psychic for fun and profit. He and his sidekick Gus have wacky adventures while helping out the local police department.
As you can probably guess, Psych is as light as Profiler is dark. Mentalist falls right in the middle, combining the Tortured Soul routine (in the style of Dr. Waters) with a touch of whimsy (a la Mr. Spencer). It also reminds me a bit of Dexter, which to me is the gold standard of mixing the horrific with the humorous.
Honestly, I was a bit disappointed that Mentalist wasn't something New and Exciting. Then again, how many original ideas can there possibly be for a crime procedural? Still, I remain hopeful. There is definite potential for Simon Baker, Robin Tunney (who plays the lead FBI Agent/potential love interest) and Co to elevate this show above its somewhat formulaic beginnings. So keep your wits about you, Mentalist. You're on notice.