Tuesday, March 5, 2013

'The Mentalist': Will Jane catch Red John before the series is canceled?

With "The Mentalist" now in its fifth season, fans of the series have been watching CBI consultant Patrick Jane pursue the serial killer Red John through a multitude of murders, tantalizing clues, horrific setbacks, and epic red herrings. Rumors of cancellation have been stirring since the fall, however, and many viewers are worried that, despite all the time invested in the series, they'll be cheated out of a final Red John reveal

On the chopping block?
The success of dramas on CBS actually makes it difficult to be the staff on one of those dramas. Ratings for the network's top shows are incredibly high, and any series that fails to meet or exceed those stellar numbers often gets cut in favor of something new that might do better. Even though "The Mentalist" boasts viewers in the range of 10 million, at CBS, that puts it in danger.

Back in October, CBS announced that two of four shows -- "CSI: NY," "Vegas," "The Mentalist," and "The Good Wife" -- would be canceled. These days it's looking pretty likely that "Vegas" will get the ax, but speculation is still swirling about the other three. Spoiler TV gives "The Mentalist" a slightly more positive outlook than the rest, but most entertainment experts are placing the series in "on the bubble" territory.

Why the ratings dip?
Moving a series in the schedule is always a risky proposition, and shifting to Sundays on CBS is particularly problematic. With frequent delays from sports programming pushing the primetime shows back, "The Mentalist" often airs as late as 11 p.m. on the East Coast, a big ask for people who have to get up for work the next day. Viewers on the CBS message boards confessed to skipping the show because they couldn't bother to wait, with even the DVR option causing frustration since it doesn't automatically allow for delays.

Thoughts on the whole serial killer arc also vary. While some fans feel "The Mentalist" would collapse without it, others find all the constant setbacks and false leads exhausting. A large part of the series' success also comes from the quirky charm of Simon Baker's Patrick Jane. Fans were already wondering in Season 3 if the show hadn't gotten so dismal that it had lost that charm, and our hero has gone to even darker places since then. When a show changes its whole vibe, fans can tend to drop off.

Red John revealed in Season 6?
Before Season 5 began, "The Mentalist" creator Bruno Heller said he had "two seasons or so" to work on the eventual reveal of Red John. This year, Lorelei let it slip to Jane that he's already shaken hands with the killer. He's been slowly compiling a list of clues from the cold case murder in Episode 13, "The Red Barn," which helped him narrow the pool of suspects considerably. Jane is hoping to get more information out of Lorelei, but fans of the show know it's not likely to be that easy.

What happens if there is no Season 6? Heller insists that viewers won't be left hanging. "A show that's been running this long with the degree of success it's had -- we'll know well in advance of that sort of outcome, and we'll adjust accordingly." With the haphazard way the short-lived series "Last Resort" tied up loose ends for its finale, we have to hope Heller is right, and "The Mentalist" will get at least a partial season to wrap things up in a way worthy of the series.

What do you think, "Mentalist" fans? Do you think the show will be renewed? Are you hoping for more Red John drama, or are you ready for it to end?

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