justin matchick is ‘psyched’ for a new season…
Psych has always been one of my favorite police procedurals of the past decade. In a television world where every detective show is a dark and brooding affair featuring depictions of the most heinous rapes and murders writers can dream up, Psych offers a sense of levity most shows sorely lack. Now entering its seventh season, and nearing its 100th episode, the show has gone through its share of story arcs and character developments. The show has always had a better sense of continuity and multi-layered storylines than a more rudimentary procedural like CSI or Law & Order. While not approaching anything on the level of The Wire or The Shield, Psych has always done a good job of balancing a crime-of-the-week format with season long story arcs.
The seventh season premiere, “Santabarbaratown 2”, picks up right where the sixth season left off. Shawn’s dad Henry (Corbin Bernsen) has been shot by a former partner of his after discovering a massive corruption scandal. Shawn (James Roday) is of course told to not get involved in the case, because of both his familial connection and emotional duress caused by a lack of sleep. As he and Gus (Dulé Hill) search for the man who shot his father Shawn is even more off-base than usual. The rapport between Shawn and Gus has always been the series’ strong point, and it was on full display tonight. Their use of cultural references and quick wit always bring a laugh at the exact right moments. Roday and Hill have an excellent chemistry going between one another, something that has been the core of the show’s success for all these years. Detectives Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) and Jules (Maggie Lawson) offer up constant quips and get a good chunk of the show’s best lines, proving to be a very strong supporting cast and helping to make Psych one of the funnier shows on cable.
Calling Psych a “comedy/drama,” as it seems to be so popularly labeled, has always seemed a bit out of place to me. The balance is far more weighted towards comedy, and drama has never been a strong point of the show. Even tonight the moments of drama are surprisingly stunted. Shawn’s father being shot and on life support would be intense drama for any other show, but for Psych all of tonight’s drama is fleeting and soon enough comedy comes in to save the script. While Henry is lying half-comatose in the hospital he is revisited by Chelsea, a stalker from previous episodes with a thing for older gentlemen. The hospital scenes prove that Corbin Bernsen has an excellent sense of comedic timing, even with no voice while he has breathing tubes stuck down his throat for a majority of the episode.
It’s interesting to see how the writers are still trying to incorporate the fake psychic premise that was the original basis for all the show’s storylines. By this point the premise is feeling tired and has pretty much seemed to run its course for the series. The only time it even comes up in tonight’s episode is when Shawn notices a hidden door behind a bookcase, walks over too it, and does a sort of hurried version of his classic “my finger on my temple means I’m having a psychic vision” move. It’s nice to see that the writers are trying to make storylines based less around the psychic gimmick and more around the characters and their camaraderie with one another.
Psych is definitely not losing any steam going into its new season. The police corruption arc that got Henry shot in the first place ended tonight, and the show is now offered much more range with where they characters should go next. If tonight’s episode is any indication of what the rest of the season will hold, Psych has a good chance of lasting a few more years as long as the comedy is as strong as the bond between Shawn and Gus.