Tele-Tuesday: The Machine versus The Mentalist, Guest Post via Andrew Mocete

He’s back!  Writer and blogger Andrew Mocete struck gold with his first Tele-Tuesday guest post (When TV Makes a Wrong Turn) and I knew that we must have him back.  Andrew shares our passion for fine television programming, and today he hopes to bring forth a solid debate among two of our Thursday night must-sees: Person of Interest and The Mentalist.  It’s possible that Andrew might ruffle a few feathers here, but he also may be on to something…

Mr. Mocete

Enjoy!

*****

“Why Person of Interest is 1000% Better Than The Mentalist” by Andrew Mocete

Sorry Mentalist fans, but it’s the truth. In less than one season, Person of Interest has blown away The Mentalist. And let me tell you, I’m just as surprised as you because I do not like dramas on CBS. Of the shows I’ve tried over the years, they all have a great gimmick, but after a few weeks, I feel like I’m watching the same episode. That’s great for the casual viewer, but for someone like me who will watch a whole season, there needs to be some kind of story progression and character development. In that respect, Person of Interest succeeds on both levels where The Mentalist doesn’t. I’ll explain.

When I saw The Mentalist pilot, I thought I discovered my new favorite show. I don’t remember the details of the murder case, what stuck was the origin of Patrick Jane.

He was a psychic of celebrity level fame who appeared on television and was available for private counsel. For a price. The truth was, Patrick was a con man using his superior powers of deduction to manipulate people into thinking he was psychic. It made him cocky, and during a TV interview he was asked his opinion of serial killer Red John. Patrick chose to ridicule him. Red John’s response to this was to murder Patrick’s wife and daughter. Since then, Patrick has abandoned his life as a psychic and uses his gift to help the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the hopes of one day crossing paths with Red John to exact his revenge.

Is that not an awesome origin story? And it was all in episode one. Well, guess what, we’re in season four and that’s still the most information we’ve gotten towards the mystery of Red John.

Red John's Calling Card

So far there have been two to three episodes per season that have something to do with Red John and while events have happened, story arc-wise, the progression has barely moved. The most interesting plot involved the team’s learning of a mistake Red John made when he was a rookie killer.  A mistake that could reveal Red John’s identity. Of course, this didn’t happen (I wasn’t expecting that big a revelation) but once again Red John stayed ahead of everyone and the team learned nothing useful.

Red John is as formidable an enemy there is and he views Patrick as a worthy opponent. Why, then, is Patrick still running in place waiting for what Red John does next? How many seasons do I have to wait for Patrick to do something that unbalances Red John? The creator of the show has said Patrick won’t defeat Red John until the end of the series. I can accept that, but I don’t know how many more episodes starring Red John’s unending supply of accomplices I can take.

Even though Red John has been disappointing, Patrick’s relationship with his partner, senior agent Teresa Lisbon, is awesome. She is the sole person Patrick cares about more than revenge on Red John. And she too is willing to go to great lengths to protect him. I wish more of this connection was explored, not necessarily in a romantic way, but in a way that tests the limits of their relationship.

A standout episode this season involved Patrick losing his memory and reverting to his old self, minus the knowledge of the deaths of his wife and daughter. At the end of the case, Lisbon has a choice to make. Leave Patrick the way he is or get him back his memories. Of course she chose the latter because she believed the man Patrick became as a result of Red John was a better Patrick despite the circumstances. And the decision brought her real pain because she had to see her friend go through the worst trauma of his life again. I want more of that kind of depth.

Notice I’m not talking about the supporting cast. That’s because they’re boring, which is a shame because Tim Kang, Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti are great actors. They just don’t get much material to work with. In four seasons of getting to know them, I still wouldn’t care if they were wiped out for new people. Not good.

I think The Mentalist just needs to focus on its strengths. Put Patrick and Lisbon in more intense situations, make the other detectives an integral part of the team and move the Red John story FORWARD. Think I’m asking for too much? Remember The X-Files? They pulled off everything I want from The Mentalist fabulously.

Person of Interest also has an awesome gimmick: solving a murder before it happens courtesy of The Machine that spits out the social security numbers of the victims. Are they good or bad? Well, that’s also part of the mystery. Beyond that, there’s quite a bit going on with the story.

Main characters, Reese and Finch have an interesting relationship. It’s unclear if Finch, the creator of The Machine (The Brains) and Reese, ex-badass (The Brawn) really like each other, but they recognize the important role they play in the work they do. Will they always agree? And Finch is as much a mystery to Reese as he is to us. What is he hiding and how will it affect Reese if he finds out? Definitely sets the stage for lots of conflict. Yay for conflict!

Person of Interest hits the mark on the supporting cast too. Detective Lionel Fusco starts out the show as a dirty cop Reese and Finch blackmail to be their man on the inside. He’s shown signs of changing for the better, but maybe that’s just because he doesn’t want to go to prison.

If that wasn’t a sticky enough situation, Fusco’s partner, Detective Carter, is on the trail of the mysterious vigilante of NY. She’s extremely smart and it’s only a matter of time before she catches up with Reese and Finch. What will she do when she finds out Fusco’s been working for them this whole time? Sounds like ingredients for conflict to me. Whee!

But wait, there’s more!

Early on, they dropped hints about a strange case known only as “Elias M.” and by episode seven those clues were brought together to put a face on who the case was about. In other words: the story moved forward giving Reese and Finch an arch nemesis. And we all know the kind of conflict those maniacs can bring. I’m glad they unmasked Elias M early because now something new will have to happen when they cross paths.

I’m expecting a lot more surprises from Person of Interest and unfortunately none from The Mentalist.

So, what do you think? The Mentalist or Person of Interest? Choose your side in the comments!

*****

First, a big THANKS to Andrew! His guest post couldn’t have come at a better time.  This week is a big birthday week for me, and Andrew has helped lighten my load so that I can focus my time on editing my manuscript, cleaning the house for my upcoming house guests, and preparing to spoil myself.

Please be sure and check out Andrew’s blog and learn more about him here.  Andrew thought we (Amber West, Jen Kirchner, and I) were joking when we donned him the Twitter Hashtag, #MrMoceteSpeaks…but we weren’t kidding; when he speaks, we listen.

I’ll save most of my thoughts for the comment section, however I can’t move forward without mentioning that unlike Andrew, I enjoy CBS dramas.  Hawaii Five-0 and Criminal Minds are two of the first that come to mind, in addition to Person of Interest and The Mentalist.  That’s right – I adore Patrick Jane and The Mentalist, despite the fact that many of Andrews’s points also rang true for me.

I also love the idea of characters in television dramas having arch nemeses in addition to weekly storylines (McGarrett has WoFat, to Patrick Jane’s Red John, and to Reese and Finch’s Elias M.); and similar to Andrew, I like to see the progression of said storylines instead of ignoring these arcs all together week after week.

Bring on Red John, The Mentalist!  We can handle it, and we’ll probably even stick around after the fact.  Just sayin’…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Tele-Tuesday: Perp or Victim?

Continuing with last week’s post, television 2011 has brought us a large lineup of new programs hoping to find a permanent home on the networks.  After giving almost all of the new shows a try, I’ve picked a few that have definitely peaked my interest and earned a spot on the DVR.

For those of you with just enough time for a few programs a week, this is for you!

We’ve already discussed why Revenge is Sweet, so today we’re going to talk about what happens when someone’s number is up.

Post 9/11, the U. S. Government hires Mr. Fitch (Michael Emerson,Lost) to build a computer with the programming capabilities to predict terrorist activity.  Fitch’s machine produces numbers, specifically social security numbers, indicating who the country should add to the watch list.  Of course, not every number that it generates is indicative of terrorist activity and those are thrown out.

Fitch decides to save the portion of his computer the government deems irrelevant, and he discovers that he can find individuals who may or may not be involved in a crime tomorrow, the next day, or a year from now.

Realizing he doesn’t have the required resources to follow each lead on his own, Mr. Fitch seeks out former CIA agent, John Reese (Jim Caviezel from major motion pictures including The Passion of the Christ).  Reese is the perfect partner for Fitch; he’s presumed dead by the U.S. government, and he possesses the highest level of training and skills the U.S. military has to offer.  Better yet, his beloved was murdered years before and Reese has nothing to lose.

Person of Interest begins when hoodlums on a subway train attempt to mug Reese.  Notice we said attempt….Reese, dirty and resembling a bum, fights back and incapacitates each and every one in the gang.  The police take Reese in for questioning, where he meets Detective Carter (Taraji P. Henson, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).  Det. Carter isn’t buying Reese’s story, but he is bailed out by a mysterious benefactor (Fitch) before she has the chance to question him further.

Reese cleans up and Fitch pitches his idea to him – “the machine” generates a social security number, and Reese will follow the individual gathering Intel to determine whether or not the individual is going to be the victim of a crime, and when, or whether or not the individual is going to be the perpetrator of a crime, and try to prevent it.  Mr. Fitch will provide Reese the necessary funds for each investigation; money is no object.

The first social security number Reese receives belongs to a young and beautiful district attorney.  Reese follows her with the intentions of protecting her from whatever danger is ahead, but he soon discovers that she, along with others on the NYPD, is dirty.  Reese uses this opportunity to blackmail and pocket one of the dirty cops, Detective Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman, Rescue Me), which really comes in handy considering Det. Carter refuses to forget about the subway vigilante.

The phrase, “act first, ask questions later,” describes Reese perfectly.  He’s not afraid to punch, kick, or even shoot anyone he considers dangerous and a threat to the individuals he is tasked with protecting.  We’ve likened Reese to Michael Westen (Burn Notice) in our house, except Reese has even less to live for than our favorite burned spy, making him one dangerous dude.

And, what about Fitch’s past?  Person of Interest provides flashbacks giving the audience tiny pieces to the puzzle.  We know that Fitch is the brains behind the computer; we know that the “face” of Fitch’s organization, his partner Ingram (Brett Cullen, The Gates), has been murdered; we know that Fitch now suffers ailments from a previous injury, and that he too is presumed dead.

What happened?  Is it possible that the government tried to cover up the fact that it asked Fitch to build this technology?

Do you watch Person of Interest?  What do you think?  Do you think the government has a “super computer” they use to track potential threats?  How long before Det. Carter learns the truth, and will she join the team or arrest Reese?  I’d love to hear from you!  

 

Remember – the final season of Chuck premieres this Friday night on NBC…..What do the writers have in store for fellow Nerd Herd and Buy More fans?  Will Morgan survive the Intersect?  Will Sarah and Chuck, Ellie and Awesome, and Casey save the world and live happily ever after?  What antics does JeffSter have up their sleeves this season?

Let me know in the comments section if you’re a Chuck fan too and what you hope to see as the series comes to an end!

Tele-Tuesday: Fall Wouldn’t Be the Same Without New Crime and Drama

It’s that time of year again!  The fall television schedule is right around the corner and, as always, the networks have a lineup of many new programs to accompany our returning favorites. 

Similar to the last two weeks, we’re introducing more of the new television programs this fall.  Some of the series have promise, while others may flop – but, regardless, we’ll tune in to check them out!

Today, it’s time for new crime and drama!

****

 Unforgettable – CBS

Unforgettable stars Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace) as former New York City detective Carrie Wells.  Carrie remembers everything:  every moment and every aspect of every day.   When asked to help the police solve a crime, Carrie is reunited with her ex, Detective Al Burns (Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck).  Carrie decides to rejoin the force with one major goal – solve her sister’s murder.

Other notables: Marilu Henner (Taxi) plays two roles: first as a production consultant (similar to the main character, Henner possesses the rare ability to recall all autobiographical events, a condition known as hyperthymesia) and second as a recurring guest; and, Michael Gaston (The Mentalist) plays Detective Mike Costello.

Unforgettable premieres Tuesday, September 20th.

*****

Revenge – ABC

Revenge stars Emily VanCamp (Everwood) as Emily Thorne, a young and beautiful addition to the rich and prestigious Hamptons.   Emily’s arrival isn’t her first trip to the neighborhood.  When she was a little girl, her father was framed for murder and Emily vows revenge against those responsible – primarily the Grayson family. 

Other notables: Revenge is loosely based on Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, and the series also stars Madeleine Stowe (from many motion pictures including Stakeout, Twelve Monkeys, and The General’s Daughter) as Victoria Grayson. 

Revenge premieres Wednesday, September 21st.

*****

Charlie’s Angels – ABC

Yet another adaptation of the popular ‘70s television program that starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Cheryl Ladd, to only name a few, this remake of Charlie’s Angels stars three new young and beautiful starlets: Annie Ilonzeh (General Hospital) as Kate Prince, a former dirty cop; Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights, The Roommate) as Eve French, a former street racer; and, Rachael Taylor (Grey’s Anatomy) as Abby Sampson, a former thief.   The three angels work for John Bosley (Ramon Rodriguez, Day Break and The Wire), the face of Charlie’s agency (Townsend Detective Agency), and will protect each other at all costs. 

Other notables: Charlie’s Angels is produced by Drew Barrymore, an angel herself in the motion picture hits; Leonard Goldberg, an original producer of the ‘70s hit; and,  Nancy Juvonen, producer of the major motion pictures starring Drew  Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy LiuRobert Wagner was supposed to follow in John Foresythe’s footsteps as the voice of Charlie; however, Wagner had to leave the project due to other conflicts.

Charlie’s Angels premieres Thursday, September 22nd.

*****

Person of Interest – CBS

Person of Interest stars Michael Emerson (Lost) as billionaire Mr. Fitch, and Jim Caviezel (from many motion picture blockbusters including A Thin Red Line and The Passion of the Christ) as former CIA agent, John Reese.  The two men find each other after Mr. Fitch creates a software program that has the ability to predict crimes.  Fitch seeks out Reese to help solve these crimes before they happen.  Why?  Because the former CIA agent is presumed dead – who better to help stop these crimes before they happen than a dead man?  

Other notables: Person of Interest is produced by J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, Fringe); and, also stars Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as Carter, the detective on a mission to find Reese. 

Person of Interest premieres Thursday, September 22nd.

*****

 Prime Suspect – NBC

Based on the British drama series of the same name, Prime Suspect stars Maria Bello (Coyote Ugly, ER) as Detective Jane Timoney.  Jane’s confidence, lack of tact and reckless behavior make her adjustment in the New York City homicide division challenging.  Will her fine detective skills and her ability to focus on the case at hand help her fit into the all-male department?

Other notables:  Prime Suspect also stars Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall, Practical Magic, and TV’s Third Watch) as Lieutenant Kevin Sweeney; Kirk Acevedo (Fringe) as Detective Luisito Calderon;  Peter Gerety as Jane’s father, Desmond; and, Tim Griffin, Damon Gupton, and Brian F. O’Byrne as other members of the  homicide department. 

Prime Suspect premieres Thursday, September 22nd.

*****

A Gifted Man – CBS

A Gifted Man stars Patrick Wilson (The Phantom of the Opera, The A-Team, Insidious) as Michael Holt, a self-absorbed New York City surgeon whose life is turned upside down when his ex-wife haunts him from beyond the grave and asks him to continue her work in a free clinic.   Michael’s life changes for the better, pleasing his sister (Christina played by Julie Benz, Dexter and No Ordinary Family), while leaving his assistant (Rita played by Margo Martindale, Justified) questioning his recent career choices. 

Other notables: A Gifted Man is produced by Academy Award winning director, Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs); and Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon alumnus, Rachelle Lefevre (vampire Victoria) plays Kate, a doctor at the free clinic.

A Gifted Man premieres Friday, September 23rd.  

*****

What do you think?  Will you tune in to watch any of these new drama and crime programs on television this year?  Which one most interests you?  Which of these shows will make it and which ones won’t? I’d love to hear from you!