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August 27, 2014

On the Set: 'The Mentalist'

by Maggie Furlong, posted Feb 17th 2009 6:00AM
See what we found while investigating the set of 'The Mentalist.'

What do you get when you cross Simon Baker's devastatingly charming smile with a vengeful serial killer on the loose? Ratings gold for CBS, or as you probably know it, 'The Mentalist.'

The biggest (OK, only) breakout hit of the fall TV season, 'The Mentalist' has already garnered the People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama" and reached heights of close to 20 million viewers -- becoming the only freshman series to top Nielsen's weekly primetime ratings since 'Desperate Housewives' first debuted in 2005.

AOL TV visited the set at Stage 14 of the Warner Bros. lot in L.A. to interview the show's stars Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang, Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti and creator Bruno Heller. Keep reading to see what they think makes the show so successful and to find out more about the CBI offices. -- By Maggie Furlong


On the Set: The Mentalist'

    What do you get when you cross Simon Baker's devastatingly charming smile with a vengeful serial killer on the loose? Ratings gold for CBS, or as you probably know it, 'The Mentalist.'

    The biggest (OK, only) breakout hit of the fall TV season, 'The Mentalist' has already garnered the People's Choice Award for "Favorite New TV Drama" and reached heights of close to 20 million viewers -- becoming the only freshman series to top Nielsen's weekly primetime ratings since 'Desperate Housewives' first debuted in 2005.

    AOL TV visited the set at Stage 14 of the Warner Bros. lot in L.A. to interview the show's stars Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang, Owain Yeoman and Amanda Righetti and creator Bruno Heller. Keep reading to see what they think makes the show so successful and to find out more about the CBI offices. -- By Maggie Furlong

    CBS

    Secrets, Secrets

    We'll never know if Patrick Jane actually has psychic powers, according to Simon Baker and Bruno Heller. They'll also hold out on Red John's identity for as long as possible: "I'm certainly not going to tell anyone this season, put it that way," Heller laughs.





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    CBS

    Going to the Dogs

    While we haven't seen much of the characters outside of work -- save Patrick Jane's murdered family and time in an insane asylum, of course -- we did pick up a few clues about Teresa Lisbon's (Robin Tunney) work ethic and home life on set. Just as her character's by-the-book nature would indicate, Lisbon's office is very sterile and organized. The one personal touch: multiple pictures of some pretty adorable dogs.





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    CBS

    Standard Procedure

    Simon Baker has a theory about why people love procedural shows: "It's kind of ridiculous how well procedural shows do, and I think there's a greater social thing at the moment. I'm theorizing, but I think that we are in a time where people are looking for closure, and it's as simple as that. With a procedural show, you do get closure at the end of the episode. There's a beginning, a middle and the end."





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    Warner Bros.

    Getting the Message

    The office is peppered with knick-knacks, gadgets, crime scene photos and even some funny Post-It notes to add to the workplace realism. One that stood out? Kimball Cho's (Tim Kang) computer monitor had a phone message on it, fit for any mama's boy: Cho - Call Mom, Dinner at 6:30. Awww.





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    CBS

    Character Development

    We've seen Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) and Grace Van Pelt's (Amanda Righetti) flirtations all season, but will we be seeing more of the team dynamic? Yeoman says, "I heard CBS describe it as a dysfunctional family ... I think there's a lot to be said for that. And I think, as we've grown together as friends and colleagues, that feeds an interesting dynamic between us."





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    CBS

    Small Screen Bonus

    How does doing TV differ from movies? Robin Tunney explained it best: "When you do a movie, and you see the movie and you felt like you made the wrong choice in the scene, it's up there forever. And I'm really critical of myself. On television, you can see it and go, 'Next time I'm going to try, in that situation, to handle it differently.' As an actor, you are constantly given the opportunity to hone a character and to make the right decisions."





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    CBS

    G'Day 'Mentalist'

    Like many of the most popular shows on American television, 'The Mentalist' is already being broadcast in 17 other countries around the world, including Simon Baker's home continent, Australia. Our bet is he looks just as good in any country.





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    CBS

    A Killer Storyline

    How much serial killer is too much? "With the Red John storyline, we will go to that world occasionally, and that's always part of his journey, but we'll go there sparingly," Heller reveals. "This is a procedural detective show, so there's a really delicate balance we have to keep, walking between telling that story and telling the week-by-week stories that are really the meat of the thing."





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    CBS

    Guessing Game

    The writers of 'The Mentalist' don't want you to know whodunit before it's revealed ... or do they? "It's like magic tricks," Bruno Heller explains. "You have to keep changing the trick you're doing, otherwise it becomes predictable. With whodunits, sometimes the fun is in seeing an obvious villain and sometimes it's in really playing the whodunit mystery angle."





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