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October 13, 2015

Mental -- An early look

by Jonathan Toomey, posted May 25th 2009 10:00AM
Dr. Jack Gallagher (Chris Vance, R) discuses a patient with hospital administrator Nora Skoff (Annabella Sciorra, L) in MENTAL, premiering Tuesday, May 26 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX.
During the pilot episode of the new FOX drama Mental, Annabella Sciorra's Dr. Nora Skoff tells Chris Vance's Dr. Jack Gallagher that his recent decision to strip down butt-naked to help a patient deserves some of her Harvard business school advice - ask for royalties because the video of it is sure to be more popular than Paris Hilton's sex tape. To that, I offer some insight from a Syracuse University TV production graduate - there's a reason FOX held off on premiering Mental until the summer. It's not very good.

Let's just get the obvious statement out of the way: Mental desperately wishes it could create the winning formula of House and sadly, it fails miserably. That being said, it was a solid attempt but the glaring similarities kill it fast. Vance plays Dr. Jack Gallagher, a much friendlier version of Greg House. He takes over as department head at the Wharton Memorial Psychiatric Hospital, an institution that looks an awful lot like Princeton-Plainsboro. Seeing a pattern yet?

Gallagher's new job comes complete with an overbearing Cuddy-esque boss in Dr. Nora Skoff (who he may share more of a past with) as well as a couple of underling residents who do nothing but complain when he sends them off hospital campus to investigate a patients home or interview family members. Couple that with Gallagher's extremely cocky, unorthodox techniques and his knack of putting the hospital in the middle of legal cross-hairs and well... sounds just like that other FOX medical drama.

However, I did say it was a solid attempt and after screening the pilot, I will say this - you could do a lot worse for summer TV fare. There are some bright spots. Each new case opens up with some nifty graphics that outline a patients history and in the show's only real attempt at comedic levity, we often get to see what a patient is really thinking via Family Guy or Scrubs-ish "what if" daydreams.

Additionally, while we're left wondering why Gallagher seems so darn perfect and great at his job, it's good to know that even he isn't without some mystery as the pilot ends with some ambiguous information about his family and more specifically, his sister Becky.

Ultimately though, Gallagher seals Mental's own fate when he tells a patient that "getting you home is what this is all about" or, more simply, making you feel better. The same could be said for the home viewer watching in their living room and unfortunately, I don't see Mental or Dr. Jack Gallagher making good on their own mission statement.

Mental premieres on FOX on Tuesday, May 26th at 9:00PM ET.

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Well... for a Summer production is really GOOD. I liked the first two episodes, and beyond some similarities with House , Jack Gallagher reminds me more of Patch Adams :P .

June 09 2009 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a House fan and someone who just watched Mental yesterday, I have to ask, have you ever watched House? Your review does not indicate any understanding of House at all. House does NOT like people. Period. The main, underlying point of the show is that House can't stand people. People lie, etc.

Gallagher obviously cares a great deal about people and appears to actively like them and even more importantly in differentiating his character from House, interacting with them.

I'm not saying this is a particularly good show but it reminded me a lot more of Santuary than of House both in its good points and its bad points.

Plus the opening sequence with the head zipper is enough to make me give it a few more shots.

May 28 2009 at 9:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hell I need some Summer show to watch so this one is it

May 26 2009 at 9:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Daune Calovini

Yeh, it's cute. In fact, it might even catch on, like Flashpoint. I try not to judge shows that I'm interested in on the pilot, since things can change drastically. I have a three episode rule.
That said, I remember thinking, during the pilot, that I enjoyed the Leverage episode in the rehab facility more than Mental.
Go Orange!

May 26 2009 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wait whoa...Jonathan did you go to Syracuse too? Newhouse? Whaaa?

And good, another bad review of the show -- now I definitely won't even give it a try haha. :P

May 26 2009 at 2:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'll watch it anyway. I like Chris Vance. It seems like it might be good to watch for a few months this summer but it probably won't progress beyond that.

May 25 2009 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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