Picks and Pans Review: The Mentalist

updated 09/29/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/29/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS, Sept. 23, 9 p.m. ET |

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Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) once made a good living as a bogus psychic, reading people's physical reactions to trick them into thinking he was communicating with dead loved ones. He probably wasn't a big fan of Medium. Then he fell into a black hole of pure, evil energy: a serial killer struck tragically close to home. Now he puts his phenomenal skills of deduction to work solving brutal crimes with a team of investigators. I like the potential in this backstory, but the premiere episode of The Mentalist doesn't deliver on what should be the dazzlement factor of Jane's ability to interpret clues that the police don't even see. It's as if Sherlock Holmes were content to impress Dr. Watson with a few glib asides made in the course of an extended happy hour.

Baker plays the lead character with quiet distinction—courtly, smooth, shadowed by sadness—although in the first few scenes, he might be mistaken for an extremely handsome funeral-home director.


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