2014: A Year in Review

1920336_10152035606485698_205299555_n2014, for me, was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of year. There weren’t any big life-changers. Time just passed me by and before I knew it, we were on the cusp of a new January. Looking back over the events of the year is a happy reminder that it wasn’t all just a waste of time, so allow me to reflect on the last 12 months…

  1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

I went on a little holiday without the parents. It only took 22 years. You quickly realise that within a group of friends, everybody quickly adopts the archetypal family roles in a holiday situation. I think I was probably the dad that no one really listens to and often mocks, but who still gets to sit in the front seat of the car. My friends might argue I was the grumpy teenager but don’t listen to them, they are all known liars. These kids don’t gimme no respect!

  1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I’m not really a new year’s resolutions type of gal, but I definitely went into the year with the hope that I would continue to progress in my running, having run my first 5k on Christmas Day. I can happily say that all of my fitness goals were achieved. I’m training harder than ever and I’ve run nearly 40 races this year. And I won my little trophy for my efforts.

For next year, I have no resolute goals but I would like to keep the running going strong. I hope to run further and faster over the course of the year, with my eyes on a quarter marathon or perhaps even further.

  1. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

  1. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

  1. What countries did you visit?

None. I’m rather deficient on the wanderlust. Also quite poor.

  1. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

Given that I’m about to drop off the end of a big ole cliff, finally reaching the end of my degree, a heavy dose of confidence wouldn’t go amiss. I can feel the anxiety rising in my body, stress coursing through my veins as though my transformation into the nerve-killing superhero I always knew I could be is imminent.

I hope that finishing university will also give me a little time to just enjoy being a person in the world again. So much of the last five years has been consumed by essays and exams and journal articles; I can’t wait to just take a breath. Not that the prospect of finishing education isn’t also terrifying.

  1. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

March 14th. HAIM. UEA LCR. Not only was it an incredible experience to watch my favourite musicians absolutely slay on that stage, but seeing three incredibly talented women at the top of their game was energising. They can do anything with their guitars in hand, and why shouldn’t I be able to do the same with a pen in mine? Sharing it with my best friend, my soupsnake, the platonic love of my life made it every bit more beautiful. I believe that seeing the band you love the most is one of life’s greatest pleasures. The hope that we’ll be able to repeat the experience enthuses me no end. Este, Danielle, Alana – your move. Tickets please.

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Este Haim performing Go Slow at the LCR. Photography by me.

  1. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Probably my little running trophy. Surviving my second second year of university was no small feat, though. Both of my experiences in second year have been rough but knowing how much more it mattered this time, both personally and professionally, made the knocks harder to take. I’m proud of how I dealt with it, though – by taking the advice of the wise women in my life and lacing up my trainers, which brings us full circle to my original answer: my little running trophy. Not only was it an acknowledgement of my efforts on the track, but it represented overcoming the challenges I faced and continue to face at university. It made me feel like I could accomplish anything I wanted. I felt strong.

  1. What was your biggest failure?

Maybe the mark I got in February for an essay that I thought I’d nailed. I remember picking it up first thing in the morning and having it hang over me throughout a day of lectures and seminars. Nothing stifles creativity like being on the verge of tears, and so I left my creative writing seminar feeling totally defeated and spent about an hour in the uni toilets. The real kicker was that I was weeping in the cubicle so long that the motion censor lights switched off. Picture me sniffling away while performing star jumps in an effort to get the lights back on. I wish I could say it was the most pathetic moment of my life.

  1. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I went over on my ankle at the end of a Parkrun in April, landing arse-first in a muddy puddle, putting me out for a few weeks. Later in the year, the saga of my terrible toe began. No, Taylor, we are not out of the woods yet.

  1. What was the best thing you bought?

Cinema tickets for Guardians of the Galaxy. Spending the last hours of my birthday with a giant Chris Pratt, watching him dance-off into a new day was very special. It was a new dawn, a new day, a new life for me. And yeah, I felt pretty good about it.

  1. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

This answer would probably remain constant whether you asked me this year, last year, next year. My best friend, Hannah. She is there for me day in, day out. No matter what is going on, I have someone to go through everything with me. Every best memory I have from this year, and from the moment I met her for that matter, has Hannah at the heart of it. And if I think about my bad memories from the year, it’s Hannah who was helping me deal with them – that, or texting me cute things about Josh and Donna (e.g. “Today I thought about Josh and Donna’s child having a first crush and Josh offering advice. I did other stuff too but that was important.”). On top of that, she really nailed my presents this Christmas. I’m still reeling from her gift-giving prowess. (more…)

A Christmas Day in the Life

IMG_177208:00 – My alarm. Pavlovian instinct dictates that if I hear the Marimba tone in any other context, it induces violent rage. I’m so angry at Marimba. The worst thing is I can’t change it because I once set my alarm to my favourite song for about a week and then realised that it was the quickest way to turn love to hate, so changed it back to Marimba. I will live the rest of my mornings in this Marimba hell.

08:06 – Oh, actually… is it Christmas? I could be into that.

08:10 – My dad knocks to check for signs of life. “On for Parkrun?” he asks. I say yes but it goes against every instinct. (It was my idea but 9.2k two days earlier had unexpectedly done me in a bit.)

08:30 – My mum persuades me to wear a Santa hat. I’m skeptical. Festive cheer still buffering.

08:50 – My dad, who is usually unable to do Parkruns due to coaching commitments, has arrived at Poole Park and runs away from my mum, my brother and I. He proceeds to skip and jog and do other charmingly bizarre warm-up exercises. He’s making no bones about how seriously this is being taken. The three of us watch, a little entertained and a little embarrassed. Bless.

09:00 – WHY AM I DOING THIS?

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09:10 – (Louder this time.) WHY AM I DOING THIS?

09:20 – I feel very aware of every ache and pain in my body. The sensation runs head-to-toe. Particularly toe. However, it also makes me feel like a brilliant, powerful musk ox.

09:24 – Nearly over. Nearly over. Nearly over.

09:27 – Over.

10:30 – Back at home, I’m feeling too lazy to shower. It’s just so much effort. It’s 15 minutes of heaven followed by an hour of pulling my hair out. I begin to wonder if I should cut my long hair off and return to the unflattering bob that carried me through high school. Maybe it would do for me what it’s done for Taylor Swift. No, I decide. I have to be game ready if ever HAIM need a stand-in.

10:40 – I should move.

11:00 – I am overwhelmed with the biggest wave of cba and look for ways to stall drying my very wet hair and putting my makeup on and, you know, generally turning myself into a human.

12:00 – My self-esteem has sky-rocketed since I last checked in. It’s at least 47% because of the fact that I’m wearing red lipstick.

12:03 – No one, other than my immediate family, will get to appreciate the effort I just went to. The only pictures taken of me today will be makeup-less, running shots. I open Photobooth with shameless urgency. THIS EFFORT MUST BE DOCUMENTED.

Documentation of effort.

Documentation of effort.

12:04 – I post my Photobooth picture. I have now balanced out the makeup-less pictures of me running. The internet has found equilibrium once again. Praise you, Photobooth.

12:10 – I go downstairs to show off the masterpiece I just painted onto my face. My dad doesn’t look up from his guitar as I pass him in the living room. My mum turns around, amidst her deluge of roasting and boiling and chopping, to comment, “Oh, you look lovely.”

12:15 – I’m beginning to wonder if the time I spent perfecting my red lipstick was worth it for, “Oh, you look lovely.” I’m forced to face the harsh reality that Christmas dinner will undoubtedly ruin the aesthetic. I should care about something more important.

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13:00 – The dinner isn’t ready but no one told my stomach. I am now loitering with intent. I sense my mother wants more space than I’m giving.

13:25 – There’s no sign of dinner yet but I’m sat at the table in a hope that this will adequately convey my eagerness and hurry things up. My stomach is making noises.

13:30 – I gobble up the starter like I just came off a detox or something. Prawn cocktail hits the very 70s spot. 10/10, would recommend to friend. Solid start.

13:45 – There is a painful wait between courses but I try to keep my urgent appetite under wraps. My brother and I end up in a discussion about the family hierarchy, in which my brother gets placed fifth. He questions why he is fifth in a family of four, to which I reply, “You’re fifth, Dad’s fourth, Mum’s third and the hypothetical family dog is second. The dog loses first place on the basis that it’s only a potentiality. If the dog was real it would be first, second, third and fourth.” He accepts this.

14:00 – We begin our main.

14:15 – Mum, Dad and I finish our Christmas dinner. Callum soldiers on.

14:20 – Callum’s still eating. We wait patiently, all stuffed.

14:35 – He’s still chewing on his beef. (We don’t eat turkey.)

14:40 – I suggest that when my brother eventually finishes eating, we relocate to the lounge to let our main course go down before dessert. My body does not respond well to being tested. Even the most delicious dessert fails to appeal when you’re full to capacity. I think any further information on this topic might be considered, in some cultures, “too much information”. You can expect many essays on this subject in my upcoming non-fiction book, ‘I Wish I Hadn’t Said Anything’.

14:53 – Nearly three o’clock. We begin unwrapping presents. I think we all feel a little bit smug about our restraint. I certainly feel smug. That’s not unusual.

14:55 – My dad selects my first present as I say, “Make it a good’un!” He goes for the one that is most obviously a box of chocolates. I must remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas, which, as an atheist, ambiguously resembles the American’s Thanksgiving tradition from what I can tell (turkey, more people than the dinner table can fit, etc.). I am feeling particularly guilty about my atheism during the Christmas period, not least because I ate a month’s worth of advent chocolate from a ‘Real Advent’ advent calendar detailing the ‘Story of Christmas’. (If I’m honest, the story hasn’t been updated since last year so it wasn’t really a page-turner. If you’re looking for twists, stick to Gone Girl.)

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My brother chose this necklace for me because “it looks like Twitter and you’re obsessed with Twitter.”

15:05 – My brother surprises everybody with the unprecedented amount of effort gone into his presents (though, not his wrapping). My mum, dad and I are all as much shocked as grateful. Probably more shocked. Callum really stepped up his Christmas game this year. Such moments in my younger brother’s life tend to live on forever, so we will probably still be talking about Callum’s Big Christmas in the year 2053. I’m okay with that, though. So long as we also remember how bloody slowly he ate his dinner. I mean, really! (When reached for comment, Callum had this to say: “The beef was chewy.”)

15:12 – I unwrap BJ Novak’s One More Thing. Everybody asks me who BJ Novak is.

15:23 – My mum unwraps the new Take That album – a gift from me. She remarks on the backwards nature of the exchange given the many Christmases that I had Take That albums and concert tickets bestowed on me. “How the turntables…” I say in response. It falls flat. After a pause, my dad quietly tells me, “It’s, ‘How the tables have turned’, Jess.” I may have over-Gilmored.

15:35 – I unwrap a Parks and Recreation boxset, The Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy and gladly thank my mother for generously giving me all of Chris Pratt’s 2014 filmography. Sorry Jesus, it was Pratt who put the Chris into Christmas this year, buddy.

15:50 – We bask in the glow of Christmas lights and unwrapped presents.

16:10 – Dessert. My mum asks if I want my chocolate brownie gateaux heated up a little. I say yes. Heated up is always better.

16:12 – No, it’s not. The cake seems to have shrunk and liquified. We’ve made a strategic error.

16:13 – Tastes okay, though.

16:14 – My brother smugly savours his chocolate cheesecake, undamaged from microwave misadventures, as he looks on from the other end of the dinner table. Damn you, demon boy.

16:20 – We watch The Lego Movie together, at my suggestion. Even my brother is in for a viewing party. My dad is confused within about 20 seconds. No one attempts to help him. We all know it’d be fruitless.

16:25 – EVERYTHING IS AWESOME. EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU’RE PART OF A TEAM.

18:15 – I go next door to visit my nan, who is particularly taken with my nail polish. This has long been my biggest talking point with family members outside of the Kennedy core four. It’s a relief. It’s infinitely preferable to university- or career-related questions. Yes, let’s talk about the manicure I gave myself. My granddad is forcibly pulled into the conversation and nods his befuddled approval.

19:15 – I head back to the house for the Miranda Christmas special, ready to curl up with comedy. Soon, I realise that it’s rather light on the funnies but stick with it out of curiosity.

19:45 – They’re crying and I’m confused about it.

19:50Call The Midwife comes on as I attempt to piece together what just happened on Miranda. Given that I rather enjoyed the last Call The Midwife Christmas episode, I indulge myself. Also, I once met the nun-cum-not-a-nun-anymore on a tube so I feel some degree of loyalty towards this show.

20:00Call The Midwife is tedious so I opt to look over my presents more thoroughly. Picking up Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, I begin to thumb through it, eventually reading the preface casually and then all of a sudden it’s…

22:37 – …and I’m 150 pages in. Downton is on in the background (equally tedious, even longer running time). Amy’s so hilarious, I think to myself with a sigh of admiration. Oh, Amy, you poetic, noble land mermaid.

22:40 – My mum tells me she loves me and remarks upon what a nice day it’s been. We are all impressed by my brother’s sunny disposition.

22:42 – My mum repeats that she loves us. I think my dad is asleep. Either that or there’s a pneumatic drill nearby.

22:43 – Gushing continues. My mum notices the chapter title, “Humping Justin Timberlake” but says nothing.

22:48 – Poehler’s still hilarious. It feels ever so slightly weird to be reading her sex advice chapter while sat next to my mother while she watches Downton Abbey, but I work through it.

22:51 – I momentarily stop reading because Carson proposes to Mrs Hughes. I don’t care about Downton, but I think everyone can agree they were the real love story of that show. Maybe it’ll be like Moonlighting, I muse; now they’re together, the show will lose all its appeal. Then I remember it’s been terrible for years.

22:52 – Maybe it was never good.

23:45 – It has come time for bed. I attempt to gather my presents but, delightfully, there are too many to take in one load. My dad helps out and I’m soon arranging my newly unwrapped presents on my bedroom floor like I’m keeping them there on display. I am like a six-year-old child, standing over my haul of gifts. I feel mighty.

00:00 – I think it might have been my favourite Christmas yet. Casual and quiet with the core four. In the words of Amy Poehler, YES PLEASE THANK YOU.

Human Disaster

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Last week was kind of a smorgasbord of minor calamities for me. On Sunday I passed out at Ben Howard and the following day had me occupied with a clogged toilet, at which point I was forced to accept that my life was basically a sitcom (reviews would read: “too sad to be funny”, “amusing at points but far too ridiculous to enable the suspension of disbelief”). I also had a bad experience at Zizzi’s which hit pretty hard given my penchant for Italian food and the wasted opportunity it turned out to be; their pulled pork pizza was one of the most significant bummers of my lifetime. Anyway, given the comedy of errors that Sunday night turned into, I thought I would recap.

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Our view of Ben Howard. © Emma Holbrook

About five songs into Ben Howard’s set, I whisper rather pathetically to my friend Emma, “I need water” or “I can’t breathe” or something desperate and dramatic. Concerned, she suggests I leave the crowd, which I rather sensibly, and stubbornly, refuse. My other friend, Hannah, has now turned around to support Emma’s suggestion and before things turn into a singalong of Jojo’s Leave (Get Out), I flop onto Hannah’s shoulder, suspending all arguments. It is at this point that Hannah and Emma turn into my bodyguards, helpfully guiding me out of the crowd. It’s clear to everyone that it’s a matter of time before I’m flat on the floor, and I lose my eyesight for a moment, so we hurriedly stumble to clear space. Before I know it, Hannah has turned into Paramedic in Charge and is authoritatively saying, “Let’s sit her down” and Emma has hustled a security dude over. The security dude insists I go to the first aid room so I get up to follow him. Instead of leading us, he goes through to the bar to grab a water for me but we all follow him because I’m so out of it that I don’t know what’s happening. Dude then has to say, “Yeah, this isn’t the first aid room.” It shouldn’t be news to me but it is.

Our time in the actual first aid room is a series of amusing missteps. To set the scene, before Hannah, Emma and I go in, there are about six first aiders and one patient in there and it’s probably definitely already over capacity. First, they ask my name for a form that has to be filled out. “Kennedy,” I say, because it’s, y’know, the answer. Inexperienced First Aider Number One, we’ll call him, seems amused by this and asks, “Like the president?” He laughs, I sigh. I give him a pass on it seeing as he probably thinks I’ve never heard that before. He doesn’t know my life. Hannah and I lock eyes and share a mutual internal groan. Not for the last time that night.

Later, they begin asking me things like, “Have you been drinking?” A simple question, you might think. In my hazy state, however, I misunderstood the question not to mean alcohol but really any drink. My reply, therefore, was, “Not enough.” Everybody laughs at me. I don’t blame them. I attempt to claw back some dignity by hamming up my haziness and muttering, “I haven’t been drinking enough water… probably.” It’s too late. They have decided I’m either an alcoholic or an idiot. They then ask how much I’ve eaten. Before I can reply, Emma eagerly jumps in and announces to the room, “She just ate a MASSIVE pizza.” More laughter. As they continue with the form, it becomes clear that Inexperienced First Aider Number One is not doing a good enough job and it becomes a team effort between three inexperienced first aiders and their superior. They take turns with their questions and seem remarkably nervous to ask me rather inane, basic questions. At this point, I’m 99% fine and amused by the fuss. They ask my emergency contact and I give my mum’s number, despite that we are in Norwich and she is approximately seven hours away. It would need to be quite a slow emergency, and therefore not an emergency, for that to be remotely helpful.

It’s when they begin trying to get my pulse that things go awry. To begin with, the first aiders are fighting over who gets the honour. I can’t blame them, have you seen my wrist? Hot shit. When they begin trying to get my pulse, Inexperienced First Aider Number Two fails to find any sign of life. Then One and Three take their shot. I try to break the tension with a “maybe I’m dead” quip. All of a sudden no one wants to laugh; I develop an irrational bitterness but remind myself that I got a good laugh out of Emma for my earlier “All About That Space” singsong upon noticing that she follows NASA on Instagram, so I’ve had enough validation for one day. I also begin to think about the episode of Chicago Fire I’d watched the day before, where they go into a bombed building to get people out, checking pulses to identify those who are still saveable. LIKE WHAT IF YOU JUST DIDN’T FIND THE PULSE, CASEY, YOU CALLOUS BASTARD????* I now feel concerned that my pulse playing hard to get will cause me problems in a dramatic disaster-style situation. Upon sharing my concerns with Hannah, she suggested that I remind myself TV isn’t real life. Solid advice.

Eventually we get back to Inexperienced First Aider Number Two and she claims to find a pulse. It takes about five attempts but we’re there. Not dead. Relatively normal. And is that The Fear I hear in the background? We dash back to the concert, relieved in the knowledge that I have a pulse, and enjoy the rest of Ben Howard. Turns out we actually missed out on the real drama of the night. Long story long, what a fuss.

*I can’t stay mad.

Winning

photoWhen you heard (because it was all over the news) that I won an award on Saturday, I imagine your first thought was that it must be Glamour’s Woman of the Year. A reasonable assumption, and you can send your complaints accordingly, but no. I won the award for Best Improved Runner at my club. Equally prestigious. Not counting third place in an Irish dance recital when I was seven years old (which may have been more of a pity prize than anything, since I was struck with terrible stage fright and burst into tears), this is the first award I’ve ever won.

On Saturday morning I did what I do every week and forced myself out of bed at 8am, shivering my little butt off, to go and do Poole Parkrun. This particular week marked my 34th 5k since Christmas Day last year. The pacers were out for the occasion so I was feeling particularly motivated, especially after a promising training session on Thursday, and decided to make Mr 26 my mark – lucky man. Before Saturday, my PB was 26:34 and I was ready to beat it – it had been a whole two weeks, after all. Armed with my trusty playlist and my luminous Boscombe 10k woolly hat, I gave the 26 minute man a good chase for those three-and-a-bit miles. Sadly, he still beat me.

While I was feeling a little downbeat about how the run went, I wasn’t too far off the elusive Mr 26. Turns out, and I don’t want to break a scandal (except I kinda do), Mr 26 was actually more like Mr 25:40. My time was 25:55! New PB and I’m into the 25s. Success. It was a lovely way to begin a big ego trip of a day, really.

photoAt the awards bash in the evening, I was given my prize alongside my fellow award-winning Kennedy, the Roadmaster of 2014 (and, let’s face it, every year), my mum. People very kindly made a nice little fuss, though all it did was remind me that my mortification over public attention has not lessened since my jigging days. Best Improved Runner was based on runbritain handicap points, comparing the start of the year to the end. In my case, I had a handicap improvement of 8.4 points before the mid-November deadline.

Since my dad will read this more times than anyone else, I feel I should cater to my audience a little bit and quickly add that I’d still be the couch potato of yesterday were it not for the patience and encouragement of my mum and dad (also, the music of Taylor Swift). My mum was the one who put up with me when it was all new and I just whined incessantly throughout our 2 mile walk-runs, and has since come with me to every Parkrun. While I’ve been ticking off the 5ks with my mum, Thursday sessions on the track with my dad (and an enthusiastic crowd of other lovely people) have completely upped the game when it comes to my speed – having taken me from a 31-minute 5k to a sub-26er in only three months.

I’m thrilled to end the year with this small but rather validating achievement. It’s been a year’s worth of fighting against every natural instinct, ignoring all of the blisters and chasing humans half my size around a 400m track that’s got me to here. I’m excited to push myself even further in 2015, with my eyes on a few more races and, hopefully, a few more PBs. I’m not a natural athlete by any stretch of the imagination but man, I love it. If you’re not a runner and are thinking about potential new year’s resolutions, it’s time to lace up those trainers and hit the road.

7 Reasons To Watch Season 7 of The Mentalist

6x19-5After seven years of Patrick Jane getting himself into endless pickles and relying on the impossibly patient Agent Teresa Lisbon to come to his rescue, The Mentalist’s finale date sadly beckons. After a late renewal, it’s the season fans were lucky to get at all – though that makes the goodbye no easier, especially not when it looks to be one of the best years of the show ever. Here are seven reasons why this final season is the perfect time to watch…

1. Throw caution to the wind and let go of all the Moonlighting anxiety, Jane and Lisbon are together and damn, it feels good. The aftermath of, “That woman in 12-B, I love her. You take care of her!” seems, so far, to be even more enjoyable than the many years of build up. There’s something impossibly charming about the walking heart-eyes emoji that Patrick Jane has become. Since shaking off the Red John albatross, he’s been floundering around the small matter of his deep, abiding love for Lisbon. Now, we see the sunniest incarnation of the man whose darkness has always been driving the plot. Sure, it’s different but, as someone who’s watched many an angstfest of a TV series, letting the light in for this ‘encore season’ is the biggest treat for both the characters and the loyal viewers. Whether we’ll get engagements, marriage, babies, etc. remains to be seen, but no matter how much of this relationship we are witness to, I sense it will be romantic as hell. It is romance that, so far this season at least, has proved to be more entertaining than indulgent, more charming than saccharine.

2. Simon Baker’s hair is majestic as ever. That’s just science. He is more beautiful than Cinderella. He smells like pine needles (I imagine) and has a face like sunshine. Slip your shades on, because Sunshine Baker…

3. Showrunner Bruno Heller is the gift that keeps on giving. With only 13 episodes before we’re forced to say goodbye forever (do you hear my gentle sobs?), Heller’s laid on a spread of nothing but blue skies. (Yes, that is what the premiere was called. It was accurate.) The final season has also been referred to as “Season of Jisbon” so, y’know, if that doesn’t make you want to watch while also breaking into a chorus of ‘Seasons of Love’ at every commercial break then I don’t know what will. Having read spoilers for what is coming up over the next couple of months, it very much seems like Heller’s kept a tab open on the fandom wishlist and is doing his utmost to tick off each item. Their every interaction thus far reads like the greatest effing fan fiction you’ve ever read. If you do that kind of thing. *shifts awkwardly in seat, closes all windows*

4. Time is running out, yo. You gotta get on the bus before it leaves the station. There’s no need to do as I did and marathon all six previous seasons, though it helps. Seasons 1 and 6 would be good for context, but procedurals are designed to be accessible. What I’m saying here is, you can do this. I believe in you. Watching Season 7 as it airs would come with all the joys of social media freak-outs over smitten Jane and Lisbon (aka my Twitter timeline constantly) and week-long periods of wondering what they’re getting up to after each episode ending. If you’re an old viewer who hopped off the bus before the journey’s end then now’s the time to catch back up. It’ll be worth your while, pinkie swear.

5. Bunney game strong. The best shows usually come with the best cast friendships, and The Mentalist is no exception. I would be remiss not to mention offscreen BFFs Simon Baker and Robin Tunney, whose delightful friendship has translated onscreen with added intimacy. Season 7 sees the pair with a new challenge on their hands – that of exploring the romantic sides of their characters. So far, the balance of new-relationship-awkwardness and happy-relationship-glow has been played to perfection. Having been friends for so long, it would be insincere to ignore the adjustment for Jane and Lisbon, but the similarly enduring friendship between the actors plays into this exceptionally well. Tunney, in particular, pulls some brilliant nervous-Lisbon faces (see below) as they attempt to navigate their new situation. Long may this continue! (I mean, 13 episodes…*more crying, crying gets louder*)

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6. Old school Mentalist vibes are back. With the Big Bad dead and gone, the cases this season are going to feel a lot more like the fun Season 1 cases, before Red John really took hold. I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing Jane at his most theatrical and Lisbon being pulled into many a scheme, all while Abbott gives an exasperated sigh (what a gift Abbott is, while we’re at it). It’s exactly what I enjoy most about the show, and what separates it from other procedurals. The promise of Jane and Lisbon as fake psychics, in particular, has me pretty darn pumped.

7. If you’ve ever had a favourite show prematurely cancelled, you deserve this. You’ve earned it, baby! From the sudden, cruel cancellations of shows like Firefly and The Hour, to the shows I simply wasn’t ready to let go of like The West Wing (Josh and Donna had only just begun!), this is retribution for every one of us who has ever experienced television show heartbreak. It’s time to let the sunshine in. I prescribe a 13-episode dose of an ‘encore season’.

What are you waiting for? Go, do, watch.