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Thursday, 23 of October of 2014

Tag » Psych

Psych – “Deez Nups”

“I’m sober now.”

Yeah. They're stunned, too.

Yeah. They’re stunned, too.

Really?

There’s a certain allowance you have to give a show after it’s been on for so many seasons. By around season 5, characters, particularly comedic ones, have become such parodies of their original casting that the only thing recognizable about them is the actor’s name flashing across the screen (and sometimes even that’s not the case, Second Becky).

It’s no one’s fault. Or at least it wouldn’t be fair to blame any one person. People get into a groove, things become second nature, you push the boundaries of the character a little bit, or what they can or would do, and, suddenly, you have catch phrase like “EAGLE” or you’ve gone from simpleton accountant to functionally retarded. As shows exhaust resources and things turn over or actors get bored and start to expand thing, the show turns into something — different.

Psych has done well to keep its basic premise and feel in tact for seven seasons though with a dulled sharpness. The writers try to make things interesting by somehow finding new territory for them to traverse each week (Santa Barbara has to have had more murders the Cabot Cove by now) and the characters find new ways to express themselves. But every once in a while you’ll get an episode that’s such a mess that it reminds you how old the show is.

And they use that episode to break the biggest arc in the series.

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Psych – “Juliet Takes a Luvvah”

“I walked into my divorced parents having sex and then my dad sat me down and told me my body was a wonderland.”

Henry, Shawn, and Madeline watch an old movie together.

So wholesome. So weird.

There are few things this show can do anymore that haven’t already been done. They’ve laid out shows based on a myriad of pop culture references, brought in several different ways to expose Shawn including a federal psychic, and invited Gus to take several lovers who may possibly be evil (more on how Psych avoids jumping the shark later). But they still have some surprises up their sleeve.

One of the things they’ve never really focused on were the pitfalls of Shawn’s ability. They’ve demonstrated how demoralizing it is to him when he gets the yips but never the downside to having an extensive and photographic memory. He files things away in the great archives of his mind (probably the same vault from which he’s able to pull records of 80s movies about boys who could fly) and is able to pull them up with little to no effort.

That means of the numerous dead bodies and horrific things to happen to him, presumably, he’s able to pull these things up at will or have them be dredged up by some sort of trigger. We’ve never seen him suffer this at all, however, and that’s mostly because that would bring a lot more gravity to his being than his character would allow. If he constantly recalled horrific corpses all the time, would he still be the same witty and positive character he is now?

So if they were going to address this, one of the final frontiers of a series that’s explored just about every other facet of Shawn’s maturation process, it would have to be something comedic. But what’s traumatizing that’s also hilarious?

Oh, I know: middle-aged people doing it.

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Psych – “Santabarbaratown 2″

“How about a raccoon with a discarded malaria sample?”

Shawn hitches a ride with Lassie to go after the man who shot his father.

Who loves you, baby?

How far we’ve come. In anticipation for the return of Psych for Season 7, I watched the pilot in all it’s low-grade glory.

Oh, it looked terrible and James Roday: so very, very thin. But the comedy, the timing, everything that makes the show great was there and all the jokes that about this being a one day thing makes you chuckle with the rich history of cases in the show. Yeah, Gus. You’ll be back at your pharmaceutical sales job in no time.

I watched it with a friend of mine who’d never seen the show before (!!!) and got to see it with new eyes. It’s amazing how consistent the show has been over the years, even with its different theme-episodes, dalliances with serious material, and contending with keeping Shawn’s arrested development fresh for six seasons. The show is never exhausting (except maybe that pilot — at a true hour instead of forty-two minutes, it feels like a TV movie with ten endings) and the characters are endearing from the start. Even Lassie. Maybe especially Lassie.

I ellipsed time to watch “Santabarbaratown 2″ and so much was familiar but there are some stark contrasts we’ve gotten used to over the years. And I’m not just talking about James Roday’s habit of covering his gut with a pillow whenever he sits down.

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Psych – “Shawn and the Real Girl”

“First things first: I will be starring in a brand new
Tyler Perry sci-fi epic called I Ain’t Gettin’ on No Rocket.”

Mario stands over Shawn, about to brain him with a crystal vase.

Shawn must've took The Miz's belt.

I don’t know about you but I like my melodrama best when the women are catty, the problems are trivial, and the men are sensitive and subject to the whims of the chaotic women in their lives. So I don’t watch much WWE.

But I have been following Mike Mizanin since he was a young buck trying to play out his aggression fantasies and desperate need for human contact on men and women alike when he starred on The Real World: Back to New York. So many MTV competitions, so many opportunities to be in the spotlight and to show the world The Miz. As he’s grown up, his character has grown, too. He’s more defined. More confident. More — good lord, is he on steroids? What happened to my All-American Midwesterner?

I don’t know how The Miz was introduced into the WWE but he was credited in a particularly hilarious episode of Psych as “WWE Superstar The Miz.” And I can’t speak to whether John Cena plays his wrestling character when he stars in terrible action movies, but we definitely got The Miz and not Mike Mizanin as a contestant in kind of a crafty version of The Bachelorette. To be honest, this episode might be the jewel in the crown of what’s been a very solid season of Psych. It’s everything this show wants to be. And Shawn chases Gus around with another dude’s underpants.

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Psych – “This Episode Sucks”

“You mom is Coogan.”

Shawn and Gus try to blend in at a vampire bar.

Better than Roland Orzabal and Michael Jackson in "American Duos?" It's too close to call.


I’ve missed Psych.

There are a few things that make a Psych episode: (1) Shawn and Gus banter, (2) a mystery with clues that Shawn can connect in the fourth act, (3) references that stoke the nostalgia of Generations X and Y. Everything else is bonus. The other characters like O’Hara, Lassiter, and Henry are great but these are the key elements.

The show always delivers on those points but has been comparatively lazy in its effort lately. It’s still one of the funniest shows on television (cable or broadcast) but its guffaw count has been sinking and its characters threaten to be bland in the formula. And then this episode came along.

I heard a lot of people tout last week’s episode to be one of the funniest in years. It has nothing on this episode. Not only does it hit all those points but it also expands a neglected character and opens up the horror homage playbook. I’m, like, giddy over here. And I’m usually not giddy. But, to be fair, it’s usually because I have to watch Dancing with the Stars.

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Psych – “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader”

“Take that, hyphens.”

Shawn hugs the ambassador before he leaves.

Not everyone appreciates guy love like we do.


Pro tip: don’t watch Season 3 Psych right before watching Season 6 Psych. It’ll only depress you.

That’s not to say the first episode of this season is a disappointment. It’s the Psych that you love if a little dulled by years of repetition. Shawn’s a little fatter, Juliet is a little weaker (her character is, more or less, a reaction shot to her male colleagues), and Gus doesn’t say “What” nearly enough.

But the basic pieces are still there and, dare I say, with some stakes raised. I don’t want to speculate about what’s planned for the rest of the season (since, last time I did, I predicted another “yips” story arc that amounted to nothing) but Psych has two trump cards sitting in its extra-pocketed sleeves ready to play for instant game-changers and we get a sneak peek at both of them in this episode.

I don’t want to speculate but I will. I want one or both of these things to happen. Because, unless there’s a plan for a wedding season finale, we need something else to look forward to. We’ve waited long enough. Read more »


I Love You, Bro – Top 10 Bromances of the Past 10 Years

Marriage, friendship, family, work, sexual. There are many kinds of relationships. But there’s only one kind that offers all of the benefits of the aforementioned relationships in one awesome package (well, except for sexual): the bromance. There is nothing like the bond between two heterosexual men. In the past 10 years we’ve seen some prime examples of bromance at work. Let us explore them together.

10. Kenan and Kel (Kenan and Kel: 1996-2000)

Awwww here it goes! These two began their chemistry on Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That and it spawned their own show in 1996. The pair got into all sorts of shenanigans often orchestrated by the scheming Kenan and forced awry by clumsy Kel. They are the reasons kids in the 90s thought they could mess up and get away without any real consequences. I know I used it as an excuse. But I think my parents were just happy I was watching something with black people in it. The show has a number of nostalgia inducing bits of dialogue including “Who loves orange soda?”, “I. Put the screw. In the Tuna.”, and the quote used at the beginning of this paragraph. What spelled a bright career for the duo eventually culminated in short lived film success for Kel (and rumors of his death) and a gig on Saturday Night Live for Kenan. But it’s their own show where they shined. And Coolio did their addictive theme song. That equaled some serious street cred in the 90s. Right?

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Podcast 006: Noel: UNLEASHED!

“Are you uncomfortable with emotions, Noel?”

Much like the Force and those pesky dogs at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market coddled by their people-aggressive owners, Noel got a little unleashed here at about the 1:04:07 mark. Sure, we talk about other stuff like the Golden Globe/SAG award nominations, some TV for this week, and the mid-season series hitting the networks next month but we like it when Noel has a chance to go off on the mockumentary style (which has been committed to the public record earlier) because it’s so rare to see (or hear even) Noel get all up in arms.

So listen to the other stuff, too, because it’s good (despite Matt not being able to hang with us) but prepare to crack a smile just past the hour mark.

Running Time: 69 minutes

Topics: Place in the Podcast

  • Golden Globes/SAG Award Nominations: 0:00:43
    • Neil Patrick Harris: 0:19:01
  • The Good Wife: 0:21:31
  • Psych: 0:33:56
  • Mid-Season Shows
    • FX: 0:40:14
    • NBC: 0:43:43
    • FOX: 0:55:48
    • ABC: 0:58:29
    • Showtime: 1:01:11

Psych – “Dead Bear Walking”

“I am preventing a nightmare.”

Lauren Lassiter films her brother while getting sniffed by the Super Sniffer.

Super Sniffer at work.

There are several ways television likes to elicit the inner-workings of a character without having to demonstrate it in a natural way. One is to get them hammered. Another is to bring in a documentarian.

Scrubs did it early on in their series (“My Bed Banter and Beyond”) with unseen psych students. Dawson’s Creek used its eponymous filmmaker to draw out character development. There’s even an entire genre of sit-com based on the practice (see The Office, Parks & Recreation, Modern Family). So when I saw Lassiter’s distractingly attractive little sister armed with a camera and that the show was going to oscillate between conventional footage and what she shoots, I groaned a little bit.

Happily, though, we didn’t get the deep internal struggles of these characters that they just needed a medium through which to vent. Instead we got what these characters would actually act like on character. That I can appreciate. If anything, what this episode demonstrated wasn’t a crutch to develop our characters but a study into how Psych as a procedural clashes with other, more conventional, procedurals and even touches on the nature of the procedural in general. Yeah, I know. Deep for Psych.

And we got to see April Bowlby without having to watch Two and a Half Men. I say that’s a win all around.

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Psych – “The Polarizing Express”

“Are you dating Dwayne Wade? That doesn’t even make sense. He’s with Gabrielle Union.”

Adult Shawn and Age 12 Shawn discuss the finer points keeping an inner child.

Love or hate this episode, you have to be happy that this happened.

USA has been celebrating this epsiode for months, even making sure to name-check it in the early press releases for this season. The It’s a Wonderful Life episode. Surprising with so many theme episodes in Psych‘s oevre (Halloween horror movies, Jaws, Hitchcock, Twin Peaks) that it hasn’t hit on this before for a holiday episode. Maybe it’s just that we’re at a point in the series that it feels it can do surrealism and the audience will follow.

What’s interesting is the way they decided to do this. This wasn’t the same as A Christmas Carol or the movie that keep on giving to Frank Capra’s estate. Except for a heavy-handedness Psych affords itself when discussing anything serious for its characters, Shawn’s journey of self-discovery shared very little with the visions of the lesson-learning protagonists of the time-honored holiday fare. You might call it too hokey or too goofy, too parodic of It’s a Wonderful Life for it to make sense. But I’m actually going to defend the perspective.

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