It’s not just Grissom’s colleagues who are feeling bereft. “CSI” has fiercely loyal male fans, and many of them are misting up over their own lost youth and eight years devoted to watching Grissom examine maggots, blood spray patterns and decayed flesh. Grissom has found a successor, Dr. Raymond Langston...a pathologist and college professor who seems to share Grissom’s slavish work ethic and kindly reticence. But Langston is not his only successor. Simon Baker, who plays Patrick Jane on “The Mentalist,” the new CBS hit, is a greater threat to the Grissom legacy. More than any other show, “The Mentalist” signals that intuition is the big new thing, while forensic science and nerdy, obsessive lab workers are old hat.
She suggests that the problem for tv investigators is that they can no longer rely on the evidence they're given in order to come up with the right inferences. "Nowadays it’s the evidence that fibs. It takes a facile, fake mind reader like Jane, who once made his living pretending to be a psychic, to arrive at the truth....Polygraphs can be wrong, but psychics and behavioralists are infallible."
I'm not so sure I agree. Infallibility might be the conclusion we are supposed to draw from The Mentalist, but Patrick Jayne is not a psychic, nor does he claim to be. Mentalists don't make these claims--usually. Jayne is as good an observer as Sherlock Holmes and Adrian Monk. He always gives reasons for his deductions. He once allowed people to think he was a psychic; he no longer does so. And I've seen no evidence on the show that Jayne expects that his colleagues won't seek out forensic evidence to confirm what he tells them. Shawn Spencer (Psych) who allows those around him (except his partner and his father) to think he is a psychic also uses good old fashioned observation to solve crimes. In fact, we know that his father, a retired police officer, spent years training him in the art of observation and deduction. Granted, the character is a little bit of an idiot, but the show is light-hearted--it's much breezier in tone than The Mentalist. Is there anything essentially different about what Jayne and Spencer do from what detectives have traditionally done? Compare their working styles to Adrian Monk's (Monk), a talented detective who has never claimed any paranormal powers and seems to have no belief of any kind in the paranormal.
Further, polygraphs can be wrong. That's why polygraph results are, for the most part, not admissible in court. Some kinds of evidence, including polygraph evidence, can look like magic, because of the ease in which they might be manipulated. Jayne's deductions, supported by verifiable observations, repeatable over time, and supported by forensic evidence, look less so.