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PBS's Warner Bros. Documercial
He couldn't mention everything, not even deeply scratch the innumerable surfaces. Considering the inherent limitations of the task, "You Must Remember This" is basically satisfying and sometimes insightful. But we might have heard more about studio scandals -- about how Warner management hounded such stars as Davis, Cagney and Kay Francis (as recently recounted by Robert Osborne on TCM) -- if the documentary had been less a birthday party and more a dauntless investigation.
Look too quickly at the letters printed on paper and "The Mentalist" can easily be mistaken for "The Minimalist." And that, alas, might be just as apt a title for the CBS crime series premiering tonight.
The best reason for watching -- perhaps the only reason -- is Simon Baker, who stars as Patrick Jane, a seemingly semi-psychic who pops up at crime scenes and helps a kind of CBI (California Bureau of Investigation) solve the pesky cases that haven't been solved on any of the other CBS cop shows clogging the network's schedule.
Baker has a sly, cagey, scruffy demeanor that can really grow on you, and in about a minute. Naturally Patrick Jane is a maverick -- every TV cop, just like almost every presidential candidate, claims to be mavericky -- but beneath that hip, flippant, sometimes caustic exterior beats the heart of a determined crime-fighter and wrong-righter.
In addition to the self-contained cases that are solved in each episode, there's a running subplot about a vicious but clever killer who dares Jane to catch him and taunts him for failing -- even going so far as to slip a snotty note under the detective's door, a kind of "nyaa nyaa, can't catch me!" Such touches nudge "Mentalist" into the waiting arms of pure hokum, but Baker and his wily line readings and intimidatingly sly stares can snap the show out of occasional stupors.
We don't need another cop show, that's for sure -- especially on CBS. But if we're going to have one anyway, "The Mentalist" is definitely the way to go.
You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story Part 1 (two hours) of a three-part miniseries airs tonight at 9 on Channels 22 and 26.
The Mentalist (one hour) premieres tonight at 9 on Channel 9.