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The Cerebral Drama Hidden Gem Series You Can Binge On Amazon

In 2008, NCIS had been on the air for five years, and CBS had a smash hit on their hands. But like any network, CBS knew that there was always the need for something fresh for audiences to glom onto in order to keep them invested. Seeking out a complementary series, executives turned to Bruno Heller. Fresh off his HBO series Rome, Heller and CBS agreed to take a chance on a kind of disgraced Sherlock Holmes-type figure. The character's name is Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), and the show is The Mentalist. And, right now, all seven seasons of the series are available to stream on Amazon Prime.

The Mentalist, like NCIS, is a procedural crime drama, but whereas NCIS focuses on the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, The Mentalist takes more of a cue from House by casting its lead as someone a little more antagonistic. Patrick Jane is, as the title of the show suggests, a well-known psychic.

The "why now" of the show's pilot is that Jane reveals himself to be a fraud. Jane falsely claims he helped police profile a serial killer named Red John, who, in turn, murders Jane's family out of revenge. The Mentalist is a series about Jane quitting being a famous psychic, joining the California Bureau of Investigation, and using the actual skills he has to help the CBI track down and apprehend Red John.

No show can exist solely on the shoulders of its title character, and, just like Patrick Jane works at the CBI in part to cope with the grief of his loss, every other person he works alongside struggles with their own past trauma as they seek to ferret out criminals and defeat Red John.

The team behind The Mentalist

Wayne Rigsby (Owain Yeoman) seems like an affable guy who is more than a little infatuated with Jane's abilities as a mentalist. But for all the times Rigsby seeks to hypnotize suspects the way Jane does, it belies a more complex paternalistic need. Rigsby has an uneasy history with his father, a member of a motorcycle gang who wound up in and out of jail for multiple crimes up to and including manslaughter. Part of what spurns Rigsby to fight crime and develop the relationship he has with Jane is born from the likely abusive relationship with his father.

Similarly, Grace Van Pelt (Amanda Righetti), the woman who (spoiler) acts as Rigsby's love interest, is someone who, as a counterpoint to Jane, actually has faith and is defined in part by that faith. But, additionally, part of what brings her to the CBI is that her family suffered a past trauma, which, while never officially confirmed, seems to involve the suicide of Van Pelt's sister.

Kimball Cho (Tim Kang), who is sort of the crew's heavy, used to be known as "Iceman" prior to his CBI days because he was a sometimes cold-blooded member of a gang called the Avon Park Playboys. A big part of his story and what governs his morality is Cho's experience in that gang and the things he did during that time which he regrets.

And the team's boss, Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney), is hard-nosed in part because she had to take on so much responsibility in her family after her mother was killed by a drunk driver.

Altogether, The Mentalist has a solid team with an interesting dynamic, and if the characters' backstories intrigue you, you can stream the entire series on Amazon Prime now.