USA's Quirky 'Psych' Returns Tonight to Bolster Cable TV's Case Against Broadcast Fare
The USA Network’s longest-running current original series is back. Season six of the crime mystery/comedy “Psych” returns tonight at 10 p.m. EST after a two month mid-season break. And I’m here to recruit a few more Psychos.
“Psych” is not your average detective series. As a child, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) developed incredible observational and deduction skills and instincts that were honed with the help of his Santa Barbara police officer father, Henry (Corbin Bernsen). Most episodes begin with a flashback to Shawn’s childhood, showing Henry testing his skills or imparting some wisdom which will come into play later.
After years of Shawn calling in helpful crime tips to the Santa Barbara police, Head Detective Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) becomes suspicious of Shawn’s knowledge of those crimes. Lassiter suspects such accurate information can only come from someone involved in
perpetrating the crimes.
In order to avoid being sent to jail himself, Shawn decides to try to convince Police Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) that his knowledge comes not from being a criminal but from his amazing, yet fake, psychic abilities. Chief Vick, impressed but unsure, agrees to hire Shawn as a psychic consultant after helping solve a murder.
With the help of lifelong friend Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill), Shawn opens the Psych detective agency. Their main client is the Santa Barbara Police Department, where they assist Detective Lassiter and his partner Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson) in solving murders. Lassiter
remains suspicious of Shawn’s abilities, Chief Vick is indifferent since it helps solve crimes and O’Hara is a believer.
The only two people who know the truth about Shawn are Henry and Gus. Though retired as a police officer, Henry now works as a consultant liaison between the department and the Psych agency. In this role, Henry is able to keep an eye on Shawn and help protect his secret.
The comedy is driven by the interaction between Roday and Hill. They are completely natural in their delivery and one could easily believe that they have been friends since childhood. Hill plays the straight man to Roday’s dry delivery perfectly.
The show has evolved over the years in several good ways. Early on, when Shawn was experiencing a “psychic vision,” his mannerisms were a bit over the top. In recent seasons he has become a bit more subtle, using the less obvious finger to the temple technique.
The interaction between Shawn and Lassiter has also gotten better. In the beginning, Lassiter was simply antagonistic toward Shawn. The interplay has become more light-hearted in recent seasons, which makes great use of Omundson’s brilliant comedic timing.
The romance angle remains a question. Shawn had always pined for Juliet while they both dated other people. They are now dating, a storyline which has a tendency to become stale and ruin shows. Time will tell how this will play out.
Gus brings the comedy to the romance angle. A self-described “player,” his skills with the ladies leave a lot to be desired. It’s entertaining to watch Gus score with such lines as “Your silhouette should be on a mud flap.”
Each season of “Psych” has its fair share of guest stars. The first half of this season included appearances from Malcolm McDowell, Tony Hale, Diedrich Bader and William Shatner. Still to come in the second half are Wayne Brady, French Stewart, Cheech Marin and the return of Cary
USA Network continues to prove that that some of the best television series are not found on the big four networks. “Psych,” recently picked up for a seventh season, is one of the best examples of this trend.
If you’re looking for a funny, entertaining show free of political messaging, I highly recommend you give “Psych” a chance. If you’re interested in catching up, reruns of previous seasons are aired on several networks each week, including ion Television and cloo.