Last Night's Television: I Own Britain's Best Home, Five<br/> The Mentalist, Five

Put off by bricks and hauteur
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Property programmes have been in a bit of a fix recently, what with banks refusing to give out mortgages and no one having any money to do up their living room. Five, however, has come up with its own canny formula to overcome any obstacles, in the syrupy form of I Own Britain's Best Home, a show in which proud homeowners get to demonstrate what they've got, without spending anything extra.

A bit of cash doesn't hurt, though, as we quickly discovered when the three judges –consultant Melissa, developer Russell and journalist Michael – introduce us to the first round of contestants. The properties are all of that tastefully moneyed, art-gallery-visiting variety, where Nigella Lawson is sacrosanct and Orla Kiely prized. Open-plan living abounded, along with statement wallpaper and candy-coloured crockery. It's nice, but just a little bit tired. Mel, Russell and Michael had each picked one house to represent, which meant there was a good deal of X Factor-style bickering and playful one-upmanship. Each got to spend 24 "typical" hours in their house – "typical", of course, including terraced cocktail parties and plenty of good red wine – before trying to convince us that they had indeed found the best. We get to vote on our favourite, who will win a spot in the final.

First up was a London terrace. Owned by a nice-but-dull couple, James and Luci, the house was the interiors equivalent of a comedy tie: lots of bright colours, not so much personality. Everywhere you looked there were green and purple clashes: violet walls, lime-green picture frames, vases full of hydrangeas. It looked like a page from the Ikea catalogue, though I doubt that anything came from Ikea. It was also huge. They had knocked out the back and built a whole extra wing, containing, among other things, space for their various collections. James has an entire showroom dedicated to clocks, and Luci an army of stuffed animals. Actually, that was pretty cool: all those bright colours, bits of fake "modern art", all capped with the inimitable splendour of a freeze-dried pigeon. The judges, however, didn't agree: they loved the colours but weren't too keen on the dead birds.

House number two was a shed-like eco-home in Norfolk, owned by Amanda, who had "given eight years of her life" to it. "It's only now that I get to sit back and enjoy it," she murmured, her eyes widening like great, mournful saucers. Poor woman, she'll probably be bored out of her brain by Christmas and sell it for a playpad in Newcastle. In the meantime, she's clinging on to what she's got, repeating the word "nurturing" like a mantra. Even the curve of the roof makes her feel "nurtured." Admittedly, it was pretty beautiful – at least the views certainly were. It might even have been my favourite.

It was certainly better than the next one, which couldn't have been more different: a sleek oblong on Sandbanks, Dorset's millionaires' row. Uh oh, did they say millionaire? That doesn't sound very credit-crunch. In fact, I'm not even sure this one's fair. The house itself was pretty ugly, with lots of gadgets and lots of tacky wallpaper and open plan bed/bathrooms (terribly sexy, apparently. But is it really? Lying in bed sipping coffee and watching your other half wash?). Alan, the owner, picked up most of his kudos outside the home, when he took the crew for ride on his boat. Also, he had his own gym. Surely anyone who can afford an in-house gym is too rich to compete? The other judges clearly agreed, pouring scorn all over the wealth-fest. "It's nice but it's not unique and it's not Britain's best home," said Melissa. She's probably right.

She could also have been talking about The Mentalist, at least in so far as it was about the least unique new show since Dawson's Creek gave birth to The OC. Bright and brash, it's the younger, (even) trashier, cousin of CSI, with a couple of other borrowed tricks thrown in for good measure.

Patrick Jane is a former TV "psychic" (actually, he's just very good at reading other people's instincts) who's been drafted in by the police to help catch killers. After gate-crashing a murder scene, he was suspended, but managed to worm his way back when another murder occurred, this time, supposedly, by an elusive serial killer at large in LA, Red John. While Patrick went about trapping the perpetrator (he knows from the off that it's not John), his colleagues bickered, flirted and did their best to tear apart the victim's family.

It's all done in a way that isn't so much stylised as plain clichéd. The script was peppered with the same faux-witty exchanges as Gossip Girl and Sex and the City. The acting was hammy, and the cast would look at home on the set of Desperate Housewives. Naturally, it was completely ridiculous. But it was terrific fun, too, and Patrick's not half-bad to look at on a Thursday evening. Will I be tuning in again? To my intense embarrassment, probably.