First Impressions


Aired on: FOX

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Listening to FOX All Access puts me in the know every Sunday, telling me all of the new shows, movies and music coming my way.  It was there that I learned about Mental, a new television drama that explores psychiatric illness.  The show aired on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 after House and I was center stage for the airing.

            Mental stars Chris Vance as Dr. Jack Gallagher, new Director of Mental Health Services at Wharton Memorial Hospital, one of the busiest psychiatric units in the city of Los Angeles.  Dr. Gallagher has already made some enemies, having replaced a well-known and well-liked director and winning out the job over another psychiatrist still working at the hospital.  His unorthodox ways - stripping naked to earn the trust of a similarly naked and agitated psychiatric admission - doesnít exactly win him points with administration and certainly earns him some interesting looks from his co-workers.

            But Dr. Gallagher has something that the others donít have at Wharton Memorial Hospital - an uncanny knack for understanding his patientsí underlying psychosis, getting them to trust him and helping them recover.  Dr. Gallagher believes in involving the patients in their treatment plans and making them understand that he doesnít see them as non-entities simply because they suffer from mental illness.

            Mental got my attention right away.  We have seen mental illness depicted before in screaming and ranting characters, but this show expresses the illness differently.  We get to see what is going on in the patientís mind.  If the patient is delusional, we see his/her delusions.  If the patient is depressed and/or suicidal, we see the images going through their mind in reaction to the stimulus around them. 

            Of course, the show is a tad nonrealistic with the unorthodox actions of Dr. Gallagher.  At one point in the pilot, the good doctor breaks into the home of his patientís sister to discover details about his patientís past.  He does get arrested, adding a touch of reality to the situation, but how many psychiatrists do you know willing to go to such extremes to get background information on one of their patients?

            And yet, I found the show intriguing.  I also like the underlying mystery about just why Dr. Gallagher is really in Los Angeles.  Is it just for the job or is he there to find someone as a phone call later in the episode might suggest?  As for the other characters on the show, I believe they still have some fleshing out to do to make these characters more interesting.  Right now, the only really intriguing characters are Dr. Gallagher (who is just as sexy as he is smart) and the patients he treats.

            I enjoyed the pilot episode of Mental and believe I will stick around for a few more episodes.  This show definitely has the potential to become a hit series.


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at