Tag Archives: Bette Davis

Out of Our Heads

The Mentalist

The Mentalist: The Complete Sixth Season – Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc. ($59.98)

“Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” Bette Davis, All About Eve

In this case the viewer is prepping for 22 nights – a full season of action and emotion-packed episodes. That’s if you’re able to limit yourself to watching one per day. Just the prospect of advertisement-free programming alone would prompt a fan to opt for the DVD version of this enduring television show.

Such was the situation for this reviewer. The prior year’s boxed set of episodes had been purchased for viewing with excellent results. The nature of the series, typically involving subtle dialogue and mood lighting when called for by the story line, is best enjoyed without interruption, viewed on equipment that produces crisp images and flawless sound quality. Alas, a cable feed to a good, but not great, television set produces a compromised viewing experience. Even TIVO or a similar recording device requires fast forwarding, which interrupts the flow of the story.

When the sixth season of The Mentalist starring Simon Baker as Patrick Jane was offered for review, I was quick to respond. The package arrived almost immediately and I set about the task with my idea of optimal viewing via a 15-inch Retina Display MacBook Pro, Apple USB SuperDrive and Apple EarPods with Remote and Mic. The five DVD edition features tremendous, headphone-worthy, sound.

The sixth season commences, as have many others, with Patrick solving a baffling crime in short order. This satisfying gambit is followed by the real business at hand, identifying and capturing Red John. While there are some really dumb moves on the part of the ongoing cast, yes, you Teresa Lisbon, for the most part the viewer is brought back into the rhythm of the past years’ story line.

The Mentalist 2

Several of the episodes are truly awesome standouts complete with suspense, deep mystery, and emotionally satisfying interactions among the characters. Along the way Patrick Jane and the California Bureau of Intelligence (CBI) team eliminate possible Red John candidates. Justice is served because each in his or her own way is a despicable person.

Viewers familiar with California’s scenic coastline may be confused by the rapidity with which the CBI team travels up and down the state. Although it is possible to traverse from Sacramento to Malibu Beach in part of a day, the trip in Patrick’s vintage Citroen felt suspiciously short! At other times the locations labeled are clearly nowhere close to being accurate. Yes, this has always been a shortcoming of the series but one can nevertheless hope for improvements in the future. One improvement is that actual skyline scenes of Sacramento are shown.

Perhaps it was the fact that I took on the review assignment, that led me to read the episode pamphlet in detail; something I’ve never before done. I found it fascinating that the tone and pace of the episodes varied significantly with the writers and directors. There were stand-alone episodes and multi-episode story lines, along with more than adequate emotional hemming and hawing on the part of several of the characters (no spoilers here).

Lastly, the nature of the series remained intact regardless of shifts in locale and the addition of several new ongoing plot threads. Purists will surely appreciate the payoff associated with the delayed gratification required while they waited to purchase the complete sixth season boxed set. It takes just 15 hours and 27 minutes of viewing for satisfaction to fully set in.

Highly recommended.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was received from Warner Brothers Entertainment. This box set was released on September 30, 2014.

This review first appeared on the Blogcritics site:

http://blogcritics.org/dvd-review-the-mentalist-the-complete-sixth-season/

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Watching the Detectives

The Bedlam Detective: A Novel by Stephen Gallagher (Crown, $25.00, 305 pages)

“When a man who demands his own way in all things is faced with the disastrous consequences of his actions, he has to know what brought them on.   But can a man’s mind bear up under such knowledge?”

Prolific author Stephen Gallagher has carefully crafted a period piece set in 1912-era London.   The refined language and specificity of details draw the reader into the tale.   At first it seems a bit forced; however, as the drama/mystery unfolds, the reader becomes familiar with the main character, Mr. Simon Becker, a Brit who is a former Pinkerton Detective in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   Becker is now in England with his wife Elizabeth, son Robert and sister-in-law Frances living under reduced circumstances.   Their relocation was precipitated by a need of proper guidance and schooling for son Robert, who has been variously described as mentally deficient and/or brilliant.

Although poor, the family is comfortably settled in a set of rooms in the Southwest borough of London.   Nearby are dreadful slums, yet Becker and the rest of the family count themselves fortunate to have created a home that suits their needs.   Elizabeth works as a nurse’s aide at a local hospital, Becker is employed by the Master of Lunacy in a poorly paying position, Robert attends classes at a special school, and Frances manages the household.

In his capacity as the Lord Chancellor’s Visitor in Lunacy, Becker travels to interview wealthy persons who may have become too addled or just plain insane to manage their own finances.   Becker is on such a visit to wealthy and titled industrialist, Sir Owain Lancaster, when all hell breaks loose in the small town near the industrialist’s large estate.   Two little girls are found dead with evidence of mauling and “interference.”   In the terminology of the era, this means they were sexually assaulted.   This is but one of a series of gory happenings in the town going back many years.   Becker gives in to his urge to investigate, a holdover from his Pinkerton days.

Sir Owain is a brilliant inventor whose life took a horrible turn for the worse during an expedition into the Amazon region of South America.   Gallagher does a brilliant job of unfolding his character’s quirks and motivations.   Becker and Sir Owain enter into a battle of wits as Becker tries to determine whether Sir Owain is a candidate for placement in protective custody by the Master of Lunacy – Becker’s employer.

What sets the book apart from other similar English period pieces is the wildly creative imagination of author Stephen Gallagher.   After setting the stage for the mystery, Gallagher forges ahead with his tale and as Bette Davis famously stated in All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”   Yes, it was a page-turner that kept my attention to the very end.

It makes perfect sense that Gallagher is able to bring a story to life so vividly as he is a screenwriter, director and novelist!

Highly recommended.

Ruta Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   The Bedlam Detective was released on February 7, 2012.

“If thriller reading were a sin, Stephen Gallagher would by responsible for my eternal damnation.”   Dean R. Koontz

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