22 hours ago
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
We moved to Germany in January of 2009, which coincided with the middle of the television season. Because we didn't immediately get AFN (Armed Forces Network) and we weren't fluent in German, we missed the second half of our favorite TV shows. No big deal, but we're now in the process of catching up.
This month has been The Mentalist. When this show originally came out, I wasn't sure I would like it. It appeared to be similar to another show already on USA Network called Psych. Now I'm a huge fan of Psych and from the previews, I thought this was an attempt to cash in on the success of Shawn Spencer. But I watched the first episode because I did like Psych and found that this was not a cheap imitation.
While there are some similar elements, these two shows are not the same. Last night, I watched the season one finale of The Mentalist. Wow, good stuff.
The writers and Simon Baker, who plays Patrick Jane, have done a wonderful job of building a character that people can relate to. He was an arrogant fraud and as a result, a serial killer targeted him and killed his wife and daughter. So, he's known personal tragedy and feels guilt and need for revenge, but his pain has caused him to seek redemption. But all this information is parsed out to us slowly (like in any good story) and the back drop for his character arc is playing detective for the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation).
We see this man go through investigations, asking inappropriate questions and noticing details that only Sherlock Holmes would catch while using hypnotism and slight of hand for misdirection. He acts joyful and full of life, yet we know there is a darkness inside him. We get a glimpse every so often. It makes us want more.
Watching his journey, I don't know if it's more evident to me because I'm learning how to build strong, believable characters in my writing or if it's because I'm watching the episodes back to back. Perhaps a little of both.
Do you watch this show? What do you think of the characterization? Who's your favorite TV character and why? Do you notice such things as you're watching TV or movies?