Welcome one and all to another edition from Blast From the Past! I know everyone’s tempted to discover the shocking truth of Tiger Kings or wallow in the loneliness of isolation, but before you do that, consider this week’s movie and tv show as a potential alternative!
Movie: “Ghostbusters” (1984)
While the most recent addition to the “Ghostbuster” franchise is up for debate in terms of quality, there is no question which film in the franchise reigns supreme.
This classic dry comedy of the eighties brings the talents of a dream team ensemble cast featuring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson. The raw chemistry of the cast and natural delivery of the jokes breathes life to these otherwise caricature-esque characters.
Even the secondary characters, like those played by Rick Moranis and Annie Potts, have such a unique personality and characteristics. This attention to even the smaller details gives the film just that much more life and elevates it.
The film follows them through the rollercoaster of non-believers, the struggles of starting your own business, and the stress of fighting literal gods, all with a joke behind every corner.
The best part of the film is not just comedy, but hows it’s presented. In other films, the story is just a way to get from one joke, one funny situation, to another. Ultimately, this leads to weaker, boring plots that feel more improved than anything.
“Ghostbusters,” however, is a cruel world and real story filled with funny characters and hilarious situations amid the end of the world.
If you’re looking for a fantastic blast from the eighties that will keep you laughing from beginning to end, give Ghostbuster a watch(or rewatch).
TV Show: “The Mentalist” (2008)
This one is a bit less obscure than last week’s pick and undoubtedly longer-lived and for a good reason. “The Mentalist” is an NBC former police procedural whose lovable cast and exciting plots that allowed the show to have eight incredible seasons (and one ok additional season we’ll get into later).
After his wife and child are killed by the elusive and dangerous serial killer Red John, Patrick Jane decides to help the California Bureau of Investigation solve crimes with his unique skills. A former “psychic” whose public proclamations of powers lead to Red John attacks, in reality, his gift for observation and tricks allows him to outwit and catch criminal after criminal.
There is nothing more important to a police procedural than a strong, likable character. Without characters like these, the repetition and often formulaic of these types of shows can get real dull fast. Luckily, “The Mentalist” excels in precisely this area
Even years after the final episode aired, I can still remember the faces, personalities, and names of the main cast. Each brings a different style and personality in a way that will have you identifying with at least one them through the seasons, and longing for their scenes.
Simon Baker excels as Patrick Jane, the eccentric and remorseful former “psychic”/con-man, and I never got tired of him dissecting suspects psychologically and setting up elaborate traps to catch the actual criminals. His acting carries the show alongside his fellow cast members.
The episodic plots are also a considerable strength of the show, and each one will have you guessing not just who did it and how, but how Patrick Jane will trick them into confessing everything. For fans of shows like “Sherlock,” “Lie to Me,” and even “House,” you’ll find a similar feel here.
Now fair warning, the episodes are formulaic, as any crime show tends to be, so binge-watching might weaken the experience more than watching in bursts, which is how I recommend watching the show to help to keep it feeling fresher.
The show also features a will-they-wont-they subplot as well as a revenge plot for Jane to capture Red John, but don’t hold your breath. They take a long time to resolve, and that is a weakness of the show.
Finally, as previously mentioned, the show ran for seven seasons, but that’s a bit misleading. The plot ends at season six, with the additional season a weird addition that’s more a prologue than anything else. If you want to get to other shows after finishing season six, go for it, you won’t miss much.
Overall, The Mentalist is my favorite TV show from the past, and I hope I was able to instill an interest in the show in you, humble reader. Its plot is clever, its characters lovable and complex, and its formula kept fresh in the right ways. If you’re looking for a long binge through this troubled-time, Mentalist is your show.
Those are this week’s Blasts From the Past; I hope you enjoy them as much as I. If they alleviate even some of the stress and strife of your lives, I will consider it a job well done. Let me know your Blasts From the Past on twitter @IlliniUpdate!