Psych vs The Mentalist

My daughter has been watching a Psych marathon on USA all day. I’ve seen bits and pieces as I go in and out of the family room. Apparently the main character on Psych (Spenser?) likes to mention The Mentalist quite often in passing. I know that Psych preceded The Mentalist and they are very similar shows, although Psych seems more geared toward humor and The Mentalist, while humorous in spots, is clearly a drama.

I actually kind of get a kick out of the writer’s willingness to take playful jabs at their competition like this, instead of just whining.

Psych is one of our favorite shows. I never catch it when it airs, but Tivo always has an episode of two waiting for me when I need them.

I’ve never seen The Mentalist, so I have basis for comparison, but as far as Psych…

It’s not “geared toward comedy.” It IS a comedy. I think it’s hysterical. One of my favorite shows.

After consulting the Wikipedia entry for The Mentalist, I see another difference. The Mentalist guy works for the “CBI.” Shawn and Gus do not work for the police department. They work freelance. Unlike Monk, they don’t get called in by the police. They are always shoehorning themselves into cases, and begging for work and having to prove themselves. The chief (and Lassie and Jules) don’t seem to really believe that he’s a psychic, but he does get good results, so they ultimately roll their eyes and listen to him.

Well, except for Lassie. But every comedy needs a Frank Burns.

p.s. The cast for Psych is exceptionally good. Dule Hill is so awesome as the perpetually exasperated Gus, and Tim Omundson is always great.

I really didn’t like the last season of Psych, but I thought the season opener brought the show back closer to form. Psych has been a favorite of mine for a while, so it was nice to see them right themselves a bit. (Last season started to get into Simpson-esq exageration of the characters to the point where they started to act out of character for laughs.) When it’s good it’s a great comedy show that has elements of a good cop/detective show in it.

The Mentalist is a very formulaic cop/mystery show in the vein of Murder She Wrote, but with a main character who used to pretend to be a psychic and is more observant and quirky than your average bear. If it wasn’t for the main character (the actors name escapes me at the moment) the show wouldn’t really be worth watching.

I think the worst part of last season is that it seemed like Shawn just gave up on trying to pretending a psychic. He was just solving crimes without acting like he had any visions.

Simon Baker is the guy’s name, and I pretty much agree with you. I like the show, but mostly for the character of Patrick Jane and Baker’s acting. Also, I like staring at the red-haried woman. (Van Pelt on the show, not sure of her real name, and IMDB is rejecting me at the moment.)

Simon Baker is, I believe, Australian. His American accent is pretty good.

I saw part of one episode of The Mentalist but had to turn it off because it did feel like just about any other procedural out there–from the atmosphere of the squad room to the visual style in which the show is shot.

Psych (which I’ve been watching since it first premiered) is different because it’s a comedy and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. The premise is absurd but essentially works as a springboard for hijinxs and humor with a dollop of mystery. Trying to root such an enterprise in something more “serious” or “real” is a fool’s errand, not only because it strains credulity, but because the final result is just more standard CSI-y cookie cutter television. Boring!

Simon Baker (Emmy nod notwithstanding) is also an incredibly boring actor–I’ve never seen him in anything where he didn’t come across as a cleaner-cut version of Matthew McConaughey (w/o the southern drawl); perfectlly nice in a “dreamboat” kinda way, but as bland and vanilla as they come. Zzzzzzzzz.

Have to disagree with ArchiveGuy here - I think Simon Baker has tons of charisma & is pretty much responsible for making the show a hit. For me, he’s the kind of actor where I can’t really say whether he’s good at acting or not, but I can’t take my eyes off him. Everything else about the show is Meh (actually the lead female character rates a Bleah).
I think “Castle” and “Mentalist” are actually more similar structurally than “Psych” and “Mentalist”. (“Castle”- has better female lead, male lead equally attractive as Baker).

My love for Psyche is the reason I’ve never watched The Mentalist. When I first saw the previews, I thought “Oh, an exceptionally perceptive guy passes himself off as psychic – how original”. I’ve come to hear it’s a good show in its own right, but I don’t feel the need to add another show to my list…maybe down the road in syndication.

I watch and like both shows. They are both very similar and very different.

In TH, the main character used to be a fake psychic (redunant?), but is not any more. He is also a much much darker character. He still sleeps in the bedroom where his wife and daughter were brutally murdered, firmly expresses disbelief in the supernatural, to the extent of calling out a fellow team member’s belief in God. He also seems to have a sadistic streak, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is eventually given some sort of criminal backround. He had to get those skills somewhere, right?

Psych, on the other hand, is more goofy buddy comedy (or at least it used to be, until they moved away from Gus/Shawn interaction and started forcing Shawn/Juliette on us - bleah!). I also did not like the last season, since they pushed Shawn over the line of being a wisecracking goofball into a jerk. I hope this does not continue this season.

Oh, and one other thing about TM. Simon Baker is a good actor, but does he have it written into his contract that every episode has to make some reference about how attractive he is? We get it! He’s a pretty, pretty man…

I have to admit I watch “The Mentalist” mostly for Simon Baker. Someone described him as having “twinkly charm”, and I agree. The character is written as having way too many talents, though, not just the fake psychic thing, but he’s a card counter, hypnotist, etc. Whatever stage-magic-type thing they need him to do, he can do.

The premise and tone are different enough from “Psych” that it doesn’t seem like a rip-off to me. I’m kind of dreading what happens when Jane catches up to Red John. That’s the kind of story line I can usually do without.

BTW, Amanda Righetti is the name of the actress that plays Van Pelt.

The creators of the show have stated that Jane won’t catch Red John until the end of the series. Which, IMO, is a bad move and makes me not want to watch any episodes that feature Red John, since I know it is not going to be resolved anytime soon…

Lassie is a lot more complex and much more fun to watch than Frank Burns.

I’m another big fan of Psych, although I don’t always watch it on a regular basis. The Mentalist, to me, is just too derivative of too many other shows.

On a broader note, it seems like USA network is just about *the *source of all the good crime shows these days! Monk, Psych, In Plain Sight, and of course Burn Notice. And I’m probably missing a few others. We may be witnessing a new “golden age.”

Oh, I totally agree.

I meant that series comedies generally need an all-purpose foil that can be used to set up all sorts of jokes. Both Frank Burns and Lassie fill that need. And they’re both uptight prigs besides.

That new show “White Collar” looks like it’ll be pretty good. USA produces quality shows

I’m a huge fan of both shows (it doesn’t hurt that I have an intense hatred for psychics, but whatever gets me there, I guess…) and while I initially was a bit annoyed at The Mentalist for pulling some things from Psych, in the end I’m fine with it as they have gone in enough of a different direction.

In the end, television is all about the supporting casts for me. In Psych we have Corbin Bernsen, Timothy Omundson, and Dule Hill who both have terrific chemistry with Shawn. I especially like Corbin Bernsen who is probably one of the more underrated fathers on television. My favorite scenes are with Shawn and Henry.

While the supporting cast for The Mentalist isn’t quite as strong as psych (at least for me), I still very much enjoy how Lisbon seems to have long since stopped fighting Jane while still seems to have his number. Cho, Rigsby, and Van Pelt fill out the cast nicely. The show doesn’t seem to take itself very seriously - which is nice. It was what finally turned me off to the Law and Order series.