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'Mental' nostalgia recap: The doctor is in (and naked, and arrested)

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Pilot” | Aired May 26, 2009

Before Transporter and after he got out of Prison Break, Chris Vance was TV’s most endearing doctor in Mental. We mean, who wants to watch a show about the guy who plays by the rules and always files his TPS reports? Isn’t it more interesting when he’s getting naked, arrested for breaking and entering, and saving the day—all in the first episode?

Los Angeles’ Wharton Memorial Hospital is your standard, run-of-the-mill psychiatric facility until Dr. Jack Gallagher (Vance) shows up. The first thing Jack does is strip down completely naked in the hospital’s admitting room to help an out-of-control patient who thinks he’s being attacked by monsters. Once Vincent (played by Grimm‘s Silas Weir Mitchell) is calmed down, everyone else is mortified that the other naked guy is their new boss.

Jack’s own supervisor, Nora Skoff (Annabella Sciorra), is the only one who’s not fazed by his freewheeling behavior, probably because she used to date him well before she hired him as Wharton’s new director of psychiatric services. She also points out that his ass is now on the hospital Internet and “it’s been downloaded more than Paris Hilton’s sex tape.” Jack doesn’t really care.

Fellow doctor Veronica Hayden-Jones (The 4400‘s Jacqueline McKenzie) is not thrilled at Jack’s arrival, but not because of the public nudity. It turns out she worked for his predecessor and thought she was in line for his job. Jack doesn’t care much about that either, because he’s off to check on Vincent—who’s been diagnosed as schizophrenic. He’s seeing things because he’s off his medication, but when Jack wants to take some time to figure out his underlying issue rather than just get him back on pills, Vincent shoves him into the nearest wall. He doesn’t want help; he just wants to go home.

Vincent’s sister shares his apathy, except she’d rather have her brother locked up in an institution and she’s got the paperwork to do it. Jack informs her that by law, he has 64 more hours to observe Vincent before she can transfer him.

Veronica, meanwhile, runs a day clinic elsewhere in the hospital and is talking to Mental‘s equivalent of The Simpsons‘ Crazy Cat Lady. Did you know there’s actually a condition called “Dead Cat Syndrome”? Apparently there is. And apparently Grayson’s dead wife is also in his freezer. But the day clinic is running out of funding, something that Veronica makes Jack aware of before their morning staff meeting.

Jack thinks staff meetings are crap because “this whole secret-society thing isn’t the best way to go,” much to the annoyance of the rest of the team. That consists of buttoned-up bureaucrat Carl (Derek Webster), well-meaning Chloe (Blue Bloods‘ Marisa Ramirez), and ladies’ man Arturo (Nicholas Gonzalez), who hasn’t figured out yet that Chloe is a lesbian. Jack wants to invite patients into the meetings. “Why not use every possible resource?” he argues, just before he suggests that anyone who can’t get on board could go work at the county hospital instead. But what would be the fun in that?

He finds Vincent carving artwork into the walls of his room, but in the short time that he spends asking Vincent’s sister for more information and not getting much, his patient has walked out of the hospital and is found at his workplace, still insisting that he’ll be fine if he just goes back on his medication. But when Jack hands him a get-well card from his niece, Vincent reluctantly agrees to return with him to Wharton.

Since his sister isn’t talking, Chloe and Arturo are dispatched to find Vincent’s brother, who explains that their whole family is dysfunctional and suggests that what caused Vincent to go off his meds might have been moving into their parents’ house. So what does Jack do? He breaks into the house and uncovers several of Vincent’s old drawings, which are similar to what he’s been hallucinating and carving into the wall. Unfortunately for Jack, the cops pick him up as soon as he leaves the building, and Nora has to bail him out. The satisfied smile never leaves his face.

With one day to go before his deadline, Wharton is now dealing with the threat of a lawsuit from Vincent’s sister … and a subsequent medical review panel at which Jack must state his case. He wants to detox Vincent completely to come up with an improved treatment plan, but Carl doesn’t think he can, and Nora doesn’t believe he has the time. For the first time all episode, Jack is stone-cold serious, because he’s going to get the job done even if it means staying up all night with his patient.

Veronica informs Nora that she’s resigning over not getting the job, and suggests that Nora wouldn’t have hired Jack before she had cancer. “Probably not,” Nora replies, tongue-in-cheekily adding, “That would’ve been crazy.” So Veronica is still there when Vincent’s sister comes to collect him—and Jack shows her that her brother is now drug-free, happily drawing again, and a prime candidate for Veronica’s day clinic. Everybody wins.

Cue Carl suggesting that he and Jack could have a beautiful friendship—if Jack doesn’t get in the way of his bringing major pharmaceutical companies to the hospital. Plus, Veronica wants to know how Jack got to be his quirky, perky self. He says that his interest started when he would visit the VA hospital that his mother worked at; she suggests he’s not telling the truth.

As Vincent is happily reunited with his family, Jack goes home to his massive apartment and takes a phone call from his sister Becky—who doesn’t even say anything. She just lets him ramble in hopeful desperation before she hangs up. Yet before he can brood, he’s summoned back to the hospital. Crazy doesn’t keep office hours, even if the doctor is just as crazy.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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