On the Subject of the West Wing

In its final season, the producers The West Wing made a daring formal decision. They decided that instead of running the season in something approaching real time, as most network shows do, the show would be set over the course of a single presidential campaign, following Bradley Whitford's attempt to get Jimmy Smits the Democratic Party nomination, and then a win in the general election. It was an interesting idea, and made for some decent drama at times, but at its core, it was misbegotten strategy if the producers' goal was to ensure an eighth season of the show.

At its core, The West Wing was a show about the adventures of President Martin Sheen and his staff. While Martin's storylines often took a back seat to the adventures of Alan Alda and Jimmy Smits in the seventh season, he was always there, dominating the credits and sitting in the Oval Office. By playing out the presidential election over the entire season, and delaying the inauguration until the very last episode, the producers created a logical stopping point for the show. It created the idea that the show was the story of Martin Sheen's presidency, and the moment that ended, there was no reason to continue watching it.

They didn't have to structure it that way. People enjoyed the format of The West Wing, and audiences have a history of liking Jimmy Smits. Would they have watched a show about president Jimmy Smits? I can't say for certain, but the producers never gave them the chance to decide. By saving the inauguration until the very end of the season, the producers effectively surrendered to the idea that the show had to end with Martin leaving office. By having no episodes with Jimmy Smits as president, they never made the argument for the existence of a show with that premise.


Adventures in Fake Journalism: The Mentalist 509

For a little more than half of Season 5, Patrick Jane spent the episodes making a list of everyone he'd ever shook hands with in the hopes of figuring out which of them may have been the notorious serial killer Red John. In episode 509 we got a peek at a couple of pages from the book, and it was an interestingly detailed piece of work, from a propmaking standpoint.

It reads-


Kevin Corrigan's interesting performance choice

There are any number of ways you may know Kevin Corrigan: Community's drama professor, one of the thugs in 7 Psychopaths, a rogue trader in the second season of not-very-good TV show 'Damages'... the man gets a lot of work. Most relevant to this week's posts, he plays Bob Kirkland, homeland security agent, on The Mentalist.

That's him justifying his inclusion on the Red John shortlist, even though he can't possibly belong on it.

I'm not here to rehash my criticism of that decision by the producers, however - I'm here to talk about Kevin Corrigan's extremely interesting choice in portraying the character as... actually, I don't want to spoil it. Watch these two clips, and then I'll explain what Kevin Corrigan was thinking when he decided to play Bob Kirkland this way.

The Hundred Sixty-Sixth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Thank you for being the best trap ever, gun-inside-double-bass. Although, that the trap only works if the person playing it has the bridge pointed at their chest when they play a certain note would seem to be a key design flaw...


My crazy The Mentalist theory

With The Mentalist set to wrap up the whole Red John thing in the next three months, I thought it might be high time to reveal my crazy theory about the villain's backstory!

Yes, that's right, I developed a crazy theory while rewatching certain episodes of the show in preparation for the new season. With any luck, it will neatly explain where Red John comes from, and why he's turned himself into an evil messiah, as well as his connection to Bret Stiles, the Malcolm McDowell character.

I suspect that Red John is the son/heir of Timothy Farragut, the original founder of 'Visualize' that Stiles murdered back in the 70s.


It's "The Mentalist" Week!

Yes, I know what you're thinking - "Castle Vardulon, isn't this the place where I go to look at comic book panels and laugh at the people (now safely in their graves) who wrote and drew them? Why is there text here?"

Well, prepare to be shocked - in celebration of the start of the new season of The Mentalist, I'm posting a few articles this week covering crazy theories, interesting acting choices, and fabulous propmaking! So tune in all week long and join me in getting psyched for September 29th, and the countdown to the Red John reveal!

Just eight episodes away, people!


The Hundred Sixty-Fifth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

What?!?! She finally got a mask!

That's amazing!

If only it weren't terrible at being a mask!


The Hundred Sixty-Fourth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Say what you will about our modern, hypercrime-filled world - at least we've almost completely eliminated the scourge of goose theft.


The Hundred Sixty-Third Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Another favorite trope of mine - the anthropomorphic talking gun! Like so many of my interests, I'm going to credit this one to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Although in that it may just have been the bullets who spoke.