Consistency in TV is rare, but "The Mentalist" has met that standard for five entertaining seasons. The CBS drama will never earn the raves lavished on "Mad Men" and "Homeland," yet "The Mentalist" is so satisfying for telling crackerjack mysteries efficiently.
One sign of that efficiency: Viewers keep following Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) even when Sunday sports often delay the drama's start time late into the night.
In the season finale at 10 p.m. Sunday, serial killer Red John will strike again. CBS says Jane has narrowed the suspect list to seven, and the show surely will arrange a cliffhanger to set up next season.
Renewal was iffy, but "The Mentalist" deserved it. Repeats on TNT have won the show new fans, and the series takes risks. Jane has become more reckless and outrageous this season.
His relationship with boss Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) continues to fascinate, and previews suggest they'll have some riveting conversations in the season finale.
The dialogue is witty. "The game is afoot," Jane said recently about a suspect with a foot fetish.
Dependable and not flashy, "The Mentalist" still has kick. After five seasons, that's a feat to celebrate.