… And I know, you know, that I’m riffing the theme song. Kiss this TV show and bring a friend. The worst thing you can do is stop watching Psych.
I’m not sure exactly why, but I went down to the rabbit hole again which is Psych. This is one of the best shows with a quirky alliance of detective and police to grace our TVs over the past 10-15 years, not because it did something truly original, but because of it. atmosphere of the series.
If you’re not yet familiar with Psych, I almost envy you because you have the chance to experience the greatness of the series for the very first time. You are probably wondering what makes it different from other notable Sherlock-Holmes inspired crime series like Monk, The Mentalist, House, etc. In this case, it’s the sheer absurdity of the program, something that almost kept me from watching it in the first place.
The series begins with an introduction to Shawn Spencer (James Roday), a man trained from birth to obsessively observe everything around him. Her father, Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) was a police officer and wanted Shawn to follow in his footsteps. Henry’s wish meant endless sessions of “Close your eyes and tell me how many hats are in the room” and “How are these two seemingly unrelated events actually linked?” type in questions for young Shawn.
These decades of training have turned Shawn into a genius of a detective with a eidetic memory, who is now able to spot and relate to clues that everyone regularly misses (much like Sherlock Holmes). But wait, did I call Shawn “a man?” A more precise description would certainly be “man child”. He is irresponsible, reckless and impulsive to the point of self-sabotaging.
Not only does his personality make him a terrible candidate for police work, it also means that no one believes he is able to deduce information in such a great way. Shawn therefore offers an “obvious” solution. Pretend to be a psychic!
Granted, this is the part that lost me when I first saw my wife watch the show. But as I continued to step on her looking at him, it continued to catch my interest. Eventually I broke down and did it to catch up with her. Now, years later, we’re revisiting the whole series.
A seriously funny show
One of the best things about Psych is that it’s a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously (not counting the staid pilot). Shawn’s Watson-like partner Burton Guster (Dule Hill) is almost as eccentric as Shawn. And unlike most of Watson’s characters, almost every episode requires Burton’s involvement to resolve the case.
This is partly due to his knowledge of pharmacology, but also to his “super sniffer”. Yes, that’s what they call his incredible sense of smell. And while he’s often there to bring Shawn back to reality, he’s often ironically the one who is seriously convinced that the murderer is in fact a ghost or an alien.
Ultimately, Psych is a show that’s ready to be fun for the sake of it. For example, the theme song constantly changes to suit the mood of the episode; when Shawn finds himself in the lead role of a Spanish Soap Opera (yes, really!), the theme song changes to Spanish; and in an episode that involves a comic book convention, the theme song takes on a superheroic sound.
And it doesn’t take long to figure out that every episode has pineapple in it somewhere. Why is it? Well, just because. However, that doesn’t mean the series can’t be serious, because it can be. Season finals are often pretty serious, whether the team is hunting down a serial killer or a beloved character gets shot. But, the show continuously goes from funny to serious without tripping over itself. Ultimately, it’s not just those moments that make the show great, it’s the chemistry of the cast that sells it.
Everyone has a role to play
The series begins with a strained relationship between Shawn and his father, but they eventually grow closer over the course of several episodes. Moments of fatherly advice are played both for sentimentality and for laughter.
Detectives Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Juliet O’Hara (Maggie Lawson) back up Shawn, Henry and Guster. Each character brings something needed to the show, whether it’s a rival, a love, reluctant respect, or an encouraging voice. Ultimately, they all fit into this world of absurdity. Plus, while detectives may seem normal at first, the truth is eventually revealed – such as when Lassiter presents an honest to kindness “shit list” on paper that he updates in real time.
Come for the mystery, stay for the laughs
At the end of the day, Psych is a crime show, so half the fun is trying to find a thriller. And, spoiler alert: he’s not always the famous guest actor for the episode, so don’t fall for that red herring.
But then, if that was all there was to it, Psych would be a boring show. After all, we’ve probably all seen the shows of “the detective who breaks into the scene before the cops arrive” (hello elementary school) as well as the “detective who still thinks he’s right” (hi House). But really, I don’t think any other crime show has been so self-aware or willing to embrace its own silliness as a Psych – that’s probably why she’s become so popular, culminating in eight seasons and two movies (with more on the way).
You can watch all eight seasons of Psych with his first film on Amazon Prime with a Prime subscription. Also, you can gorge on the eight seasons and the two movies on NBC’s Peacock Streaming Service for free with ads.