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'Mental' nostalgia recap: The last stand of Dr. Jack Gallagher

Season 1 | Episode 13 | “Bad Moon Rising” | Aired Aug 14, 2009

Well, here we are: the final episode of Mental, “Bad Moon Rising,” and the last time we’ll get to hang out with Dr. Jack Gallagher. It’s obvious at this point that the show isn’t coming back, but while it may have checked out, Jack remains one of the great entertaining characters of hospital television, right to the very end.

Following his surprising decision last week to get help, Jack is heard speaking to an off-camera therapist, admitting that he has a decision to make: whether or not to quit Wharton Memorial. He may not have a choice, though, since the hospital has apparently gone upside down since the last episode. Nora admits to a budget crisis, and Veronica says the entire ward is being shut down for the evening because of a lawsuit that’s led to the entire hospital needing to be disinfected. Ellis Kahane isn’t happy about that, because he thinks he’s a werewolf. Is anyone surprised that Carl’s in a good mood during all this chaos?

Carl has told the pharmaceutical rep Jack pushed into the stairwell in the pilot about the budget issue, and he’s back to offer Nora the money she needs if she commits the hospital to conducting clinical trials—and fires Jack. Nora believes that Jack is the “key to our future,” but doesn’t know if she can get that by the board.

Jack denies that he’s clinically depressed, and indeed has a spring back in his step as he returns to Wharton and tells her he’s okay, even though his therapist thinks he’s one of those people that’s always running. He hosts a team meeting at his place to try and find budget cuts, which is crashed by an angry Ellis, determined to prove that he’s a werewolf … at gunpoint. We’ve got a hostage situation!

Jack being Jack, he remains calm in the face of danger. He offers Ellis a beer, helps him barricade the door and listens to his complaint that Carl blew him off earlier (which, of course, he did). He wants everyone to see him transform so that they know he’s not crazy, just a literal monster. Carl’s next great idea is to have the women stage a distraction or “emotional breakdown” so that Arturo can jump Ellis; note now he’s not involved in his own plan. At least the humor is back: “We’re psychiatrists,” Jack tells Ellis, “of course we’re talking about you.”

Ellis reveals he was previously treated for rabies due to a dog bite and that he has a wife and son he left behind, while Veronica finds a newspaper story that appears to confirm Ellis’ assertion he attacked a guy on his way from the hospital. Just as Ellis is agonizing over killing the guy, Arturo tries to get the gun away from him and is shot. This sends Jack into an enangered overdrive, and not just because Arturo is bleeding on his kitchen table. At least Arturo mans up and admits that Carl has been blackmailing him for half the season.

Rather than let him shoot Carl, Jack suggests that Ellis bite him to get this over with. Sadly, he actually does it, so at least Jack gets the gun but now he probably has rabies to go with it. At least everyone gets to leave Jack’s place and go to the hospital, where Jack tells Ellis that he’s not a werewolf, just pathologically afraid of dogs and that he didn’t kill a guy, just stopped someone trying to mug him. The two of them settle back to wait out the night together, during which nothing happens except a lot of crying.

In between all this, we see cuts back to Jack’s therapy. He admits he hates being alone, but is afraid of commitment because he’s concerned that he might become schizophrenic like his sister. That’s probably not helped by the fact that the therapist is himself (which you can tell if you listen closely to the voiceover track). “In that case, what are you worried about?” he asks himself. So Jack jumps into the hospital crisis, offering to resign, but when Nora won’t let him go, he forces her to fire him by doing what we all want to do: he punches Carl. His last great act is to sacrifice himself for the hospital. The last we see of Jack—and the series—is him wandering in Europe, no destination in sight.

By this point in canon, Mental is doing its own aimless wandering, as if someone came in about halfway and decided to tinker with everything. Its last few episodes stripped out the humor and charm that made the first few so great, with less of half the cast, an impulse need to probe Jack’s psyche, and more of the standard plots that are seen in every other medical drama. The disappointment comes to a head with “Bad Moon Rising,” which feels written as a series finale, freeing Jack from everything we knew and putting him in a whole other country. It’s hard to imagine how the show would have picked up from that ending.

Having said that, Chris Vance and the irrepressible spirit of Jack Gallagher kept this show going, and the finale gives him one last opportunity to be the unique, brilliant hero we love. He takes the proverbial bullet for the greater good, and it’s just such a Jack Gallagher thing to do. Even with the added drama foisted on him, he’s still that remarkable man, and still worth missing. Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you’ll make his acquaintance—I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

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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