Since we're baring our souls today, I admit it took me time to get into PSYCH. When it debuted, first impression suggested a flighty tone, and I reasoned: If Shawn Spenser was this half-ass about his claim to psychic prowess, I couldn't see how the Santa Barbara Police Department could take him seriously. So over the years I saw random episodes here and there, but it wasn't must-see television in my household. I didn't think it had staying power. Six years later, here's PSYCH still going strong, and here's egg on my face. When my girlfriend placed me in a devastating leg scissor lock I was forced to watch the entirety of Season 5. And now I'm hooked.
PSYCH is currently the longest running show on the USA network, and it's been renewed for a seventh and eighth season. If you're a fellow neophyte, the premise goes like so: Feckless and immature, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) parlays his photographic memory and his keen observational skills into posing as a psychic detective. With his best friend Gus (Dulé Hill), he solves mysteries while acting as a consultant for the SBPD.
Here's the sitch as Season 5 opens: A traumatized Detective Juliet O'Hara (Maggie Lawson) is still recovering from her harrowing experience in the episode, "Mr. Yin Presents..." (the Season 4 finale). Shawn's exacting ex-cop dad, Henry Spencer (corbin Bernsen), is now in charge of SBPD's consultants. But if Shawn thought that meant a heftier caseload for him and Gus, no, nuh-uh. Still, there's no dearth of murder in sunny Santa Barbara.
Turns out, I grinned all day at the endless shenanigans Shawn and Gus get up to. Roday and Hill exhibit fantastic buddy chemistry and impeccable comic timing. Maybe the over-the-top antics go down smoother now - as opposed to when I saw earlier episodes years ago - because Shawn Spencer now has something that grounds him. And that's his relationship with Juliet. Even though his interactions with her are frequently marked with jokes and gags, it's obvious that, underneath all that, he cares for her deeply. And that lends depth and dimension to his character. Suddenly, to me, he's progressed beyond being only a caricature.
Season 5 is packed with terrific episodes, plenty of which are send-ups. PSYCH spoofs THE FAST & THE FURIOUS ("Shawn & Gus in Drag (Racing)"), the Bourne films ("One, Maybe Two Ways Out"), and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ("The Polarizing Express"). PSYCH also pokes fun - but mostly pays homage - to TWIN PEAKS in "Dual Spires," an episode which reunites most of the cast of TWIN PEAKS. One of the joys of the show is that it occasionally tweaks the theme song to reflect the episode's theme. In "Dual Spires," Julee Cruise, who originally sang the theme song to TWIN PEAKS, submits a haunting interpretation of "I Know You Know," the PSYCH theme song. Still, me being a hopeless (but manly and hirsute) romantic, the best thing about this season is that there's serious and very gratifying headway made in the Shawn/Juliet dynamics. Accordingly, "Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part" is my favorite Season 5 episode, with "One, Maybe Two, Ways Out" a close second. So I get it now. Shawn Spencer just isn't inclined to resign to maturity. It's okay. I'm a convert. I've embraced the deception and learned how to bend. This show got me psyched in the end.
My favorite season 5 episodes:
- Episode 501 - "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet" - in which Shawn thinks he knows kung fu (he doesn't).
- Episode 502 - "Feet Don't Kill Me Now" - Gus and Lassiter bond over tap-dancing.
- Episode 503 - "Not Even Close... Encounters" - In this UFO abduction-centric episode, Freddie Prinze, Jr. guest-stars as the jock adult version of Shawn and Gus's chubby childhood nerd pal.
- Episode 506 - "Viagra Falls" - Carl Weathers and William Devane are two geriatric ex-cops who keep one-upping Shawn and Gus during a murder case.
- Episodes 509 & 510 - "One, Maybe Two, Ways Out" and "Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part" - Two game-changing episodes, the latter of which features the return of suave art thief Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes).
- Episode 512 - "Dual Spires" - The TWIN PEAKS homage.
- Episode 513 - "We'd Like to Thank the Academy" - To instill in Shawn and Gus a better grasp of SBPD's operating procedures, Chief Vick enrolls them to the police academy under Ralph Macchio's tutelage.
- Episode 516 - "Yang 3 in 2D" pits our guys one more time against the homicidal Yin (Peter Weller) and Yang (Ally Sheedy).
This PSYCH Season 5 DVD set has 16 episodes on 4 discs, with the following bonus stuff:
- Cast & Creator Audio Commentaries on 7 episodes: "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet - Extended Version," "Not Even Close... Encounters," "Viagra Falls," "Extradition 2: The Actual Extradition Part," "Dual Spires - Extended Version," "The Polarizing Express," and "Yang 3 in 2d"
- Writers' Video Commentaries on 14 episodes - with James Roday sitting in on three of these: "Dual Spires" (which he co-wrote), "The Polarizing Express" (which he directed and co-wrote), and "Yand 3 in 2d" (which he co-wrote)
- Deleted Scenes for 13 episodes
- Extended Version of "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet"
- Super-Extended version of "Dual Spires"
- Making of the "Dual Spires" episode (00:09:50 minutes) - featuring loads of interviews with the cast of TWIN PEAKS
- "No Comment" - Behind the scenes of the PSYCH commentary of the "Yang 3 in 2d" episode (00:05:39 minutes)
- Gag Reel (00:04:01 minutes)