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'Mental' nostalgia recap: Witness for the prosecution

Season 1 | Episode 9 | “Coda” | Aired July 24, 2009

Mental goes a little bit Law & Order in “Coda,” in which Jack’s newest patient is Leeza Wilson—the sole witness to the murder of her father—who just so happens to be autistic. Can Dr. Gallagher help Leeza and solve the mystery of who killed her dad? Of course he can, because he does everything but make Julienne fries.

The LAPD is looking for Jack again, but not because of anything that he did—they want his help with Leeza, who’s holed up in a closet just a few feet away from her father’s corpse. He gets her out of the closet and to Wharton Memorial, where he and Veronica decide Leeza can’t be passed off into the system. Their early attempts at breaking through to her include Jack stealing a piano from no one knows where that Leeza subsequently won’t stop playing. As in, an hour and counting.

Meanwhile, did you remember that Arturo still exists? His father’s in town, thinking that impersonating a doctor makes him an actual doctor. Um, that’s not how that works. If that were the case, I’d be captain of the starship Enterprise-D. Anyway, Dad insists on accompanying Arturo on his rounds and starts trying to treat his patients. “After 22 seasons, I’ve had the occasion to diagnose many complex medical problems,” he brags to his son … and we’ve finally found someone almost as annoying as Carl.

Jack locates Irene, Leeza’s special-needs day-class teacher, who joins in on the piano playing. He leaves the two of them to it so that he can have another conversation with Zan (Jaime Ray Newman) about forms of commitment; this time she wants to adopt a friend’s dog. Even that doesn’t seem to go well. Seriously, it’s as if no matter what he says, she leaves looking ticked off.

With Jack’s help, the detectives are able to ask Leeza a few questions about the murder before she runs back to the piano. They also have a subpoena to take her to participate in a lineup, which Jack permits only because he knows she’s going to freak out as soon as they put a hand on her. The expression on his face when she does is totally “I told you so,” and he actually apologizes to her afterward. Is his shining armor in his office closet or something?

He’s ready to pop an Advil when Nora tells him that Child Protective Services is intent on placing Leeza in foster care in the morning. But as a former piano student, she also informs him that Leeza has started playing her scales out of order. This gives us another reason for Chris Vance to wield a guitar, and a big clue as Jack realizes the order she’s playing in actually spells out the word “badge.” Wait, did one of the cops kill Leeza’s father?

After picking the lock (another handy skill he possesses), Jack brings Leeza back to the crime scene and it’s only a matter of time before the junior detective shows up. He’s not thrilled with Jack’s theory, but admits that “anything’s possible.” Like him being the murderer and locking them all in the apartment. He pulls his gun, which he quickly loses in a brief struggle with our hero; unfortunately, it winds up in the hands of Leeza, who points it at Jack a few times before he’s able to swap it for her keyboard. Jack contemplates shooting for five seconds before the senior detective comes to the rescue. Hey, this isn’t Burn Notice, Chris Vance can’t do that on this show.

In Jack’s office sometime later, we’re told that the dirty cop has confessed to the murder and to being on the bad guys’ payroll, and that Leeza’s mother has been located and is on her way from Scottsdale. Jack takes the opportunity to ask the senior detective to look into Becky’s disappearance.

While Arturo and his father still can’t get along (the most they manage is Dad telling his son that he’s a “real enough” doctor), the world’s fastest-moving relationship comes to a crashing halt as Zan shows up at Jack’s apartment to tell him that she wants a real relationship and he’s not giving it to her. What happens next, you’ve seen before: He attempts to make a counterargument, then admits that he’s not the settling-down kind of guy at the moment, and lets her walk out of his place and his life. Well, that’ll be awkward when they see each other at work. But we can’t say that it wasn’t the right decision for both characters.

Mental does love coloring outside the proverbial hospital-drama lines, and that’s part of its charm. If you start to think about it, you can’t count the number of things that are implausible about Jack breaking and entering into an apartment that’s still a crime scene and fighting with a cop. Like House—which was well into its run on FOX when this show started—Mental doesn’t always make sense. But we don’t necessarily want it to dot its “I”s and cross its “T”s. There’s something fun, refreshing, and oftentimes very moving about this roguish doctor who’s psychiatry’s answer to the Swiss Army Knife, and if he’s getting dumped, well then that’s more time for his next adventure.

Mental is available on DVD.

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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