I’ve been a longtime fan of Psych and was thrilled to find that it is one of the shows offered on Netflix instant streaming. This USA Network show has just started its seventh series and, with luck, will be continued for a few more. A review of the show featuring Santa Barbara’s famous “psychic” detective:
Well-written. The show, a police/mystery serial, almost always has a good mystery, and as the show progresses through new seasons it doesn’t seem like the writers have begun phoning it in. Plots can be grandiose and occasionally a bit outlandish, but never ludicrous. The dialogue is good and witty, with the antics of main character Shawn Spencer (James Roday), the “psychic” detective, and sidekick Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), not growing stale over time.
Good character archetypes. Shawn Spencer is an irreverent, wisecracking slacker/rebel whose adultolescence has continued well into his thirties. Gus, his faithful sidekick and friend since childhood, is a by-the-book nerdy pharmaceutical salesman (in his day job) who is the voice of reason. Head detective Carlton Lassiter of the Santa Barbara Police Department is a by-the-book authoritarian who relishes the badge and is always annoyed and secretly jealous of Shawn’s undeniable talent. Love interest detective Juliet “Jules” O’Hara is the young partner of Lassiter who is far more flexible in her opinions. Henry Spencer, Shawn’s semi-retired father, is a former (later current) police detective who is a unique mix of by-the-book and challenging tutor of Shawn’s psychic-seeming investigative prowess.
The characters interact well and create enough tension and camaraderie to keep storylines interesting. While characters do not lose their unique facets over time, they do come to understand and respect each other. Most appreciably, Shawn and Carlton Lassiter develop an unspoken mutual respect. The tension and insults continue, but as a viewer you feel comfortable knowing that the pair will work together when needed.
Each character gets a good mix of screen time. Shawn does not dominate the storylines excessively, and he gets meaningful assists from all other major characters. The show is made more enjoyable by watching a team effort rather than an effortless victory by the star with everyone else along for witty banter or comic relief. Shawn Spencer is no James Bond, which makes for better TV.
Excellent mix of comedy, drama, and action. This may be the show’s strongest suit. As a crime/detective show, you get a good helping of action along with the underlying foundation of comedy. With Shawn’s lengthy and complex pursuit of Juliet O’Hara, you get a nice dash of romance. But, best of all, the show is not afraid to pour on some drama. Real bad things happen to characters and is not quickly glossed over, as in a sitcom. These occasional doses of drama help keep the show refreshing. When you stop feeling that things have consequences, you stop caring about the characters and the storylines.
The main characters should mature more. Though I concur that characters remaining true to their original stories is more of a plus than a minus, I think it’s risky to have characters begin in their late twenties and age through several seasons without picking up the accoutrement of adulthood. It’s fun for a character to life a bachelor’s life from age 27 to 34, but what about when 35 rolls around? Shawn Spencer is hitting his mid-thirties and the wisecracking bachelor bit may be getting a bit played out. Perhaps additional seasons could focus on him becoming engaged and approaching marriage? Having neither Shawn nor Gus lock down long-term relationships makes the show seem a little hokey.
Great show. The show pulls you in and makes you a fan. Despite having some shortcomings related to the lack of personal growth as Shawn and Gus have approached their mid-thirties, the show hasn’t become USA’s longest-running show ever for nothing! Watch and enjoy.