Damien on… "The Mentalist", "Lie To Me" And Fox TV
This is aimed at my AMERICAN audience…
Whenever a network comes up with a new wrinkle in drama or comedy, you can bet a rival network will rush out something similar within a few months. Thus it was with “The Mentalist” and “Lie To Me”. Except that CBS’s The Mentalist came out first – and is mediocre – while Fox’s Lie To Me is BRILLIANT!
Despite the popularity of The Mentalist, Australian actor Simon Baker comes across as a grinning idiot. And the thing between him and “Red John” is merely a rip-off of the thing between “Monk” and the guy who blew up HIS wife – but treated with far less skill.
While in Lie To Me, the GREAT Tim Roth runs RINGS around Simon in every department (okay, except in looks). His acting is SUPERB and he exudes vulnerable MENACE (which is not an easy trick to pull off). And the writing is INFINITELY better than that of the procedural stylings of The Mentalist.
So big cheers for Lie To Me and big boos for The Mentalist, right? Well, actually The Mentalist is not SO bad – if you don’t compare it to Lie To Me. And perhaps a comparison is unfair, anyway. The reality is the two series are really nothing LIKE each other. In fact, it may even be that Lie To Me has nothing to DO with The Mentalist and its appearance just four months later was a gigantic COINCIDENCE.
But what surprised this commentator was not only that Lie To Me came along AFTER The Mentalist and was far SUPERIOR – but that its maker is FOX!
After all, Fox is mostly famous – nay INfamous – for its comedy “news” network. And in the past, while its entertainment network has made the occasional programme (like “The X-Files”) for thinking people – since Digger likes to please ALL of the people SOME of the time, in order to SELL his services – its in-house programmes have mostly been low-brow DROSS.
However, recently, this reporter understands Digger has handed over the con of his TV interests to his SON, Digger Jnr – which may explain why more INTELLIGENT home-grown productions have begun to seep into Fox’s primetime schedules.
First it was “24” – which began as a pseudo-serious, heavily-right-wing, 9/11-inspired orgy of self-congratulation, where all of the actresses played characters who were BIMBOS – but then matured, with the bimbo characters being supplanted by smart ones. And the still-absurd plots are now pure unvarnished dark COMEDY.
Then along came the likes of “House m.d.”, “Bones” – and now, Lie To Me. And suddenly, Fox began outstripping first the ailing NBC, then the formerly strengthening ABC and finally began rubbing shoulders with the previously invincible CBS, in the primetime ratings.
And one has noted that Fox’s entertainment network has of late been trying to DISTANCE itself from its idiot sister, Fox News.
Like, on 24, the President always had his big-screen wall-mounted TV tuned to Fox News (as if!) but this season, it is tuned to CNN (okay, a CNN look-alike) and one star who was beginning a series on Fox even went so far as to state, on a chat-show appearance to launch their show, that they were working for the NICE Fox!
So after 25 long years, it would appear that a sea change is occurring at Fox. Its loony “news” service is being left to serve America’s right-wing wack-jobs, while its entertainment network is finally striving to be taken SERIOUSLY.
Right now it only has three hours of primetime programmes, which this writer hears is due to broadcasting rules regarding CONTENT, where a station becomes a NETWORK (which involves all SORTS of requirements) when it has at least FOUR hours of primetime programming. But he also hears those rules have now been relaxed.
Therefore, this scribbler would like to make a prediction (and a lot of his past ones have come TRUE – but that’s another story) which is: Digger Jnr will extend his network’s primetime to eleven o’clock, with some gritty, intelligently written adult-oriented shows – and give NBC (if it still exists) ABC and CBS a thorough SPANKING!
You heard it here first…