When you think about the best of the new shows of 2008-2009 two come to mind right away, The Mentalist and Life on Mars, one will be around (I hope) for a few years the other has come to an early (shockingly) end. Life on Mars had a great cast from a devil in Harvey Keitel (Little Nicky) to Jason O’Mara who can deliver quick comic quips and looks. Life on Mars in a nutshell is about a 2007 police detective gets hit by a car and is transported back to 1973 and is trying to get back to the present. The co-stars in their own right have long acting careers including Michael Imperidi of Sopranos fame, Jonathan Murphy and Gretchen Mol.
Why 1973 this is the year that is pivotal in Sam’s life, in this time period his father leaves the family and he learns what his mother went threw in raising him. While all the personal life revisiting is going on he has to solve crimes and in 1973 police tactics were off the hook (so to speak) like the roughing up of suspects and the prestigious of the day. The chemistry of the cast is remittance of crime dramas of old, Ironside comes to mind with a little mod squad thrown in (OK I’m dating myself). But the strength of this cast and the story lines weren’t enough to save it from the executive pencil pushers but they did allow the writers to give it the ending it was planning down the road.
Life on Mars is a lesson in how far we have actually come in 30 years and a little of family values. The last episode brought the story lines into focus and we realize how the characters fit in to the story, almost like a modern Wizard of OZ. Especially with Keitel tells O’Mara: “I’ll miss you the most scarecrow.” With that the screen flashes threw the year of episodes and when it ends you see Jason O’mara rise out of a chamber to answer NASA call that they have arrived at Mars. Jason’s character asks NASA what went wrong during the trip and told him of his dream. In this episode, we find out that Keitel is his father and Mol is his love interest. I plan on buying this series when it comes out and I will highly recommend anyone to do the same or watch it on the Internet.
The Mentalist, wow, where to start, this show is amazing. Between the crime solving writing and the comical delivery of Simon Baker this show by far is the best of the best. Simon Baker plays Patrick Jane a mentalist someone that can read people like a book who’s family was murdered by a serial killer named Red John. He joins the California Bureau of Investigation to help them solve cases and hopefully find Red John. The supporting cast here is also very strong Robin Tunney plays Tereasa Lisbon the boss of this little group of investigators (she may also hold feelings for Baker), Tim Kang, this guy is the ad king he appears in two running commercials for Shell gasoline and Att Universe. His dead pan delivery is amazing (Joe Friday would love this guy) and when he delivers a comic line its ore funny because it’s unexpected. Rounding up the cast is Owan Yeoman and his love interest on the show Amanda Righetti.
Simon Baker’s character is reminience of Gil Grissom of CSI fame. He uses the power of deuction that would make Ellery Queen and Sherlock Homes jelous. This show is dramatic and humorous at the same time; when the ending credits roll you wonder where the hour went and leaves you wanting more. The interaction of the cast draws you into the story where you feel you’re actually part of the story. My hope is this will be a long running show.
Both shows live up to their billing it’s sad that good shows die away and lousy shows like Fringe still have air time.