Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday at the Movies #22 - TV closeup: Psych

When I first saw the original promos for Psych, I didn't think I was going to like it, but it did follow Monk, and after the first glimpse of the chemistry between James Roday and Dule Hill as a comedic pair, they had me hooked. The premise is there in the tag line; fake psychic, real detectives. Shawn Spencer, raised by his police officer dad, Henry, to have all the skills of a trained detective, coupled with his natural intelligence and observation, has one thing standing in the way of following in his father's footsteps; a tarnished record from a teenage offense. James Roday's audition footage proves this is a perfect marriage of actor and character.

Pretending to be a psychic so the police department will hire him and let him work on cases, Shawn drags his ever loyal childhood best friend and straight man, Gus, played by Dule Hill, along for the ride, wherever it goes. Gus may fume and stomp and refuse to have anything to do with Shawn's latest schemes, but in the end, he'll be matter what Shawn calls him.

Shawn's over the top, audacious antics usually do seem to work, though he does encounter a few sceptics. Enter one Detective Carlton Lassiter, a.ka. "Lassie" to Shawn, the very model of a modern major-general, er, detective. This straighter than straight arrow proves an engaging foil, with his by the book procedures to work and life.

Since this is me, there is indeed a love interest, Detective Juliet O'Hara, Lassiter's partner. Juliet values honesty and directness, which clashes with the wool Shawn has pulled over everybody's eyes, though the attraction between the two is undeniable. Many close calls, dancing about the edges of each other's lives, with all the innocence and charm of a teenager with their first big crush, but no doubt that once these two are able to connect, it's the real, grownup thing. When it comes to Juliet, there's no kidding involved.

Fully on to Shawn's scheme, alternately supporting him and reining him in, is long suffering dad Henry, played to perfection by Corbin Bernson. Henry is as active and vital in his sixties as he was as a younger man, raising Shawn on his own. This is one father-son relationship with all the ups and downs one might expect from two equally brilliant men with two very different outlooks on life. Even having found his own path in life, Shawn has never stopped admiring his dad or needing his approval. This fan-made video captures some of the memorable moments.

All in all, pure silliness with a lot of heart. Sly references to other projects by cast members, pop culture references and inside jokes (including affectionate jabs at rival program, The Mentalist and a pineapple in every episode...somewhere) tied with a big floppy bow of "psych-outs" at the end of every episode make this Doctor Feelgood's go-to perscription.

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