thoughts on pop culture

Mental Episode 3: Book of Judges

David Carradine’s Star
Originally uploaded by Josh McConnell

Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t have written about this episode of Mental. That shouldn’t be too suprising since it aired a month ago and I’m just now getting around to watching it. As it turns out, this episode features a guest appearance by David Carradine in what I believe was his final role before his crazy auto-erotic asphyxiation death.

If not for Carradine, I probably would have dismissed this episode as a cheesy Awakenings wannabe. In fact, that’s exactly what it is. Despite the trite plot though, Carradine turned in a spot-on performance without delivering a single line. It’s a shame his final performance was seen by less than 5 million people, because it was the kind of powerful display that I’ll bet most actors wouldn’t mind going out on.

Hulu and don’t have episode available at this point, but it is on iTunes.


July 11, 2009 Posted by | Drama, Television | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mental Episode 3: Book of Judges

Mental Episode 1: Pilot


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.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Drama, New Series, Premiere, Television | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mental Episode 1: Pilot

Summer TV Preview Part 2: Tuesday

Here is part two of my five part summer preview. 




ABC – Not much for us on Tuesdays, but on June 23rd at 8/7c, The Superstars will premiere. It looks like ABC is trying to capitalize on the success (and low production costs) of Wipeout by giving us more regular people trying to be athletic. The twist here is that each person will be paired with a pro athlete. One team will be eliminated each week with a winner being crowned in late July.


CBS – All repeats here, but if you haven’t gotten on board The Mentalist yet, now is the time to catch up. I think this show is good enough to stick around for a few years so get on board now while it’s still fresh. Repeats air at 9/8c.


NBC – I have zero interest in watching C-list celebs trying to get out of the jungle, but I am planning to check out the second show that will be filling the 8/7c timeslot this summer. The Great American Road Trip is like a family edition of Road Rules, although I’m assuming it will have a lot less drinking and sex. Premieres July 7th.


FOX – More House repeats, paired with summer series Mental, which appears to be a watered down version of Dr. House working in a looney bin. Early reviews are terrible, but I recorded it tonight anyway. The premiere episode will re-air this Friday, May 29th if you want to check it out. Mental is filling the 9/8c slot through June 23rd. Then on July 21st at 8/7c we will be treated with the sixth season of Hell’s Kitchen. I can tell you for sure that I won’t be watching at 9/8c on July 28th when More to Love premieres–simply put, it’s The Bachelor for the hyper-obese set.


FXRescue Me started its fifth season in April, and it continues at 10/9c through September 8th. You can catch up on Hulu if you’ve been missing out. And believe me, it’s worth the catch up to see some great guest appearances by Michael J. Fox.


Science – New series Science of the Movies premiered tonight and will be filling the 9/8c position. It appears to be a fun behind-the-scenes look at how some of our favorite films are made. Don’t fret if you missed the premiere though–like everything else on the Discovery family of networks, it will be repeated a dozen or so times this week.


SyFy – As much as I loathe SciFi’s new marketing scheme, the have good chance at keeping me entertained on Tuesdays at 9/8c based on the trailer for Warehouse 13. Premiering July 7th, the show looks like a less depressing version of Sanctuary, this time set in a secret government warehouse full of supernatural goodies that reminds me of the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.


I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 3 of the preview–head’s up though, ABC is premiering Wipeout and new animated show The Goode Family tomorrow night, so set your DVRs.

May 26, 2009 Posted by | Comedy, Drama, Game Shows, Movies, New Series, Premiere, Reality, Science, Scifi, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Summer TV Preview Part 2: Tuesday