I find most television series finales disappointing. Lingering questions typically aren’t answered (Lost, anyone?), problems aren’t resolved (remember Seinfeld?) and relationships aren’t wrapped up (don’t get me started on Dexter). That was not the case with CBS’ The Mentalist, which ended its seven-season run on February 18. Though a main character was killed in an episode leading up to the finale, The Mentalist’s good-bye was, for the most part, a happy one. The most bittersweet moment took place when (spoiler alert!), Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) told Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) she was pregnant shortly after they tied the knot at their new lakeside home.
Minutes after the end credits started rolling, I got to wondering where exactly that lakeside home is. I figured it could most likely be found at one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s many movie ranches, and I was right. Jane and Lisbon’s new house is known as the “Cabin by the Lake” at Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch. I have long considered Golden Oak, which is located at 19802 Placerita Canyon Road in Newhall, one of the Holy Grails of film locations due to the fact that it is not open to the public and does not offer tours. What I wouldn’t give to see the place in person!
Walt Disney first began leasing the land, which was originally a horse ranch, in the 1950s to film The Adventures of Spin and Marty for The Mickey Mouse Club. He wound up purchasing the property in 1959 and subsequently bought up many plots of adjacent land. Today, the site consists of nearly 900 acres.
The ranch, which features large expanses of natural scenery, rural sets, a 42-storefront business district, and a residential street with 14 houses, has been featured hundreds upon hundreds of times onscreen. It has popped up in episodes of New Girl (Season 1’s “The 23rd”), Mad Men (Season 1’s “The Hobo Code”), Sons of Anarchy (Season 1’s “Better Half”), and in the movies Old Yeller, The Parent Trap, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Muppets, and The Majestic. The ranch was also famously used in Back to the Future. In the 1985 hit, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) crashes into the Peabody barn in his time-traveling DeLorean. The barn, as well as the Peabody home, were once located on the Golden Oak Ranch premises, but are, sadly, no longer standing.
In 2009 The Walt Disney Company announced plans for a large scale enhancement project at the ranch, during which a production center will be added with 12 new soundstages, a commissary, a warehouse, an administration building, production bungalows, and offices. The new facilities will be known as ABC Studios at The Ranch. One feature is glaringly missing from all mentions of the facility’s plans: the addition of a tour. However I am not giving up hope. If Disney decides to open the property to tourists, I will be one of the first to sign up!
Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.