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Mental Episode 1: Pilot

SimpsonsCrazyCatLady

As I mentioned the other day, I had extremely low expectations as I sat back to watch the premiere episode of Mental. It was close, but there was enough meat on the bone to draw me back for at least one more episode. The detailed breakdown is included below.

I have seen many reviews calling Mental a straight-up House clone. In many ways they were absolutely right. Unconventional doctor – Check. Straight-laced female administrator – Check. Breaking and Entering – Check. For crying out loud, even the sets and background music seemed like they had been lifted directly from Princeton Plainsboro.

Unfortunately, some of the really great elements of House were not present in the first episode. A Wilson-like ally was absent, as was any kind of strong link or symmetry between the patient’s case and the lives of the doctors. This is where I’m willing to cut some slack since it’s very hard to make all this happen in a pilot episode.

My main beef as the episode started to wrap up was the biggest missing element – a flaw in our main character, Dr. Jack Gallagher. I think the key to the success of House is that as brilliant and god-like as Dr. Greg House is, he is ultimately made human by his physical limitations and his debilitating addiction to painkillers. We finally got a brief preview of Dr. Jack’s Achilles’ heel in the closing moments of the episode–although I hope it is more than just a woman who got away.

This may seem trivial, but I really thought the clipboard patient file graphic was silly and unnecessary. We don’t need a stupid graphic to realize the guy who thought everyone in the hospital was a lizard was in fact delusional.

Speaking of the ‘patient files’, I checked and Dead Cat Syndrome has nothing to do with freezing your deceased feline friends. It is commonly used to describe two things:

  1. False Logic – Even a dead cat will bounce if dropped from a high enough height. It doesn’t mean it has come back to life.
  2. Unwelcome – Corporate IT often describes projects as suffering from Dead Cat Syndrome. In other words, the business is as excited about the project as your neighbor would be if you flung your dead cat over the fence.

I would also like to see a few visual tweaks like making the patient visions less obvious–we don’t need the slow motion/blurry cam visual to realize the old lady isn’t actually having sex with Dr. Jack. Also on the graphics front, I can do without the zipper sound and forehead graphic going into every single commercial break.

Overall, I think the show has potential as long as they aren’t afraid to ditch a few things that didn’t work and move forward. I won’t hold out much hope though since it appears Fox is only looking for Mental to fill a time slot until the big boys are back in the fall. Mental could at least serve as an entertaining diversion this summer if you’re like me and hate being outside in the hot weather.

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May 28, 2009 - Posted by | Drama, New Series, Premiere, Television | , , , , , , ,

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