Psych: Darth Vader and Diplomats

When I learned in 2009 that Monk, one of my all-time favorite shows, was coming to a close, I suppose I started looking for something to fill the void (kind of like when Fluffy starts peeing outside the litter box and you desperately adopt a “backup kitten”). Taking up USA’s Psych was a natural next move.

Like Monk, Pysch is a tight procedural; the tone is comic, and the main character, Shawn Spencer (James Roday), is a quirky private eye with freakish powers of observation. But unlike Andrian Monk, whose tragic flaws were actually tragic, Shawn’s “quirk” is that he is annoying—not to the audience, of course (that’s Lassie’s job), but to the characters around him. For us at home, Shawn’s malapropisms, his disregard for authority, back-handed disses, flair for the dramatic, bad driving skills, and inability to silence his cell phone at crucial moments are all part of why we love him.

Pysch returned for its sixth season last night, largely where Season 5 left off. Shawn and Jules (Maggie Lawson) are still seeing each other, Gus (Dulé Hill) is still single and ready to mingle, and Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) is still show's the worst character: Even though Shawn has a perfect track record, Lassie continues to doubt his crime-solving instincts. I mean, psychic or not, Sean always gets the guy, so maybe—just once—believe him?

The season opener, “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader,” delivered on the comedic promise I’ve come to expect from Psych. Shawn and Gus assumed their roles as unlikely detectives—Shawn rented out his phony psychic powers to a disgruntled kid who happened to be the son of a diplomat, and Gus, ever the reluctant accomplice, tagged along. When Shawn broke into the home of Ambassador Fanshaw (played by Malcolm McDowell—freakin’ awesome!) to retrieve an action figure for his tween client, he discovered a dead woman under a bed and naturally, hilarity and mystery ensued.

The scenes between Shawn and Ambassador Fanshaw were some of the funniest moments in the episode (although Shawn trying to commandeer a Prius was also amazing), especially when Shawn grilled Fanshaw with questions about diplomatic immunity:

Shawn: Can I rob a bank?
Fanshaw: No.
Shawn: Can I print my own money?
Fanshaw: No.
Shawn: Can you introduce me to Harry Potter?
Fanshaw: Fictional character.
Shawn: Can I urinate on a public bus?
Fanshaw: Would you want to?
Shawn: Maybe. Depends on the bus company.

But perhaps the best gag came when Shawn left his Sprite Zero in Fanshaw’s bedroom. It was the kind of detail that drives a viewer nuts. When Shawn was hiding under the bed, I was thinking about that Sprite can the whole time, sitting on the bedside table, waiting for someone to notice it. Then, in what seemed like sloppy writing, the can was a non-issue—until Shawn picked it up later in the episode, in front of Fanshaw, and took a giant gulp.

The go-to coroner in Pysch’s Santa Barbara is Woody, played by the great character actor Kurt Fuller (who's probably most recognizable for his role in Wayne’s World). His scene with the dead body was downright Drebin-esque, as Woody speculated, then conceded that she probably didn’t hire someone to kill herself after all.

So, yes, a lot of the jokes killed. Shawn stole every scene, but let’s not forget what a terrific comedic character Gus is, too. And, as usual, the episode was full of fun references—to everything from James Bond to Phineas & Ferb’s grandad to House Hunters International. Seriously, how much did you love the nod to Mattel’s Classic Football 2 (“Suck it, hyphens!”)? But the killing itself? Not the show's strongest case.

There’s something irritating (I mean, not Lassie-irritating, but still) about a plot in which the detective fingers multiple suspects before settling on the final (right) one. It cheapens the mystery. Listen—Monk would never name the wrong guy. Part of the fun in watching a whodunit is trying to figure out who-dun-did-it, and in “Shawn Rescues Darth Vader," there was no logical way for viewers to figure out who the murderer was, aside from merely guessing (and let’s be honest, those clues came a little too easily to Shawn). I watched the episode twice, and there just wasn’t much there.

As always on crime shows with multiple writers, some of the mysteries will be better than others, but, as far as Pysch is concerned, the laughs need to be there every time. Last night’s opener augured well for a funny season. I just wish Ambassador Fanshaw were here to stay. McDowell’s performance was a welcome addition to the cast, even if his a-hole kid deserved to be booted back across the pond. And, yes, Felix is not a true replacement for Fluffy, but you still love him, right?


What did you think of the premiere? Will you be watching this season?

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Adding my two cents into the "worst character"/Lassiter debate...



Honestly, I don't really feel that this show has a worst character. I have on many occasions had tremendous issues with the writing (and some of the implied attitudes that bleed through in the dialogue and narrative setup), but on the whole I pretty much like and dislike everyone on this show. Lassiter can be clueless, arrogant and sexist, and he hasn't had much in the way of obvious character development (but then neither has anyone else, really). But he's also shown to be loyal to those he cares about (though he takes a while to include people in that), hardworking to a fault, genuinely funny, very upfront about and true to who he is -- even at cost to his own happiness, and quietly respectful of others' abilities. He may mock Shawn's predictions/observations, but as previously mentioned (by Sarah Ricard I believe) Shawn often barks up a few of the wrong trees-- in his own very conspicuous way-- before he lands on the right path. Lassiter is truly married to his job, and to the rules that traditionally govern his job. He takes it very seriously, and in return he desperately wants to be taken seriously. Shawn does not appear (to Lassiter) to take Lassiter or Lassiter's job seriously at all. So no, Lassiter is not willing to stake his reputation on following Shawn's every speculative flight of fancy. But I think at this point Lassiter has learned to follow through on Shawn's pertinent information-- very much as opposed to the beginning of the series. And it's canon that he respects the shit out of-- and envies-- Shawn's track record.
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BTW, Shawn's client was NOT the diplomat's kid. The diplomat kid stole/kept Darth Vader from the other kid who was their client. (proofread, next time??). Lassiter is so not the worst character for reasons that have already been stated. Love the show for the comedy, I'm so glad it's back!!
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I own the first 5 seasons, and they make me laugh every time I watch them. Why would I stop now?
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i would agree with everything except Lassie being the shows worst character. I like him. I think he has some funny moments. I think the worst character is the chief. I don't think they needed to bring her back after she left (maternity I think), Shawn's dad fit in better when she was gone.



The case of the week was week, but Malcom McDowell more than made up for it. The pysch out at the end with him and Shawn doing accents was one of the funnier moments in the show.
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Been watching the show since it started. Most episodes I have seen 3 times - and they are still funny even on the 3rd watch.



I loved the episode and will most definately be watching all season long.
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Certainly a fun episode. Psych is one of my three favorite comedies, so I'll certainly keep watching. I liked the episode, but I thought the scene with Lassiter giving Shawn a lie-detector test was over-drawn though: it's obvious that his secret isn't going to come out yet, and it's not exactly mind-blowing for someone to trick the test, so trying to make it really dramatic kind of spoiled it for me. Also, I thought the a-hole kid was hilarious.



Kid: "Have fun swimming in my pee!"

Gus: "Okay! No one's peeing in anything."

Kid: "Except for you, in your bed, you wanker."
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Great season premiere episode. Shawn and Gus was awesome as always. My favorite parts of the episode was when Shawn tried to commandeer the Prius and when Lassiter hooked up Shawn to the lie detector machine. Poor Lassie he really thought he had Shawn for minute there.
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Yes, loved the bit about the lie detector as well -- and that they withheld the flashback for the end of the ep, as to not spoil the suspense.
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Yeah I liked how they held back the flashback at the end of the episode too. I don't think the lie detector part would've worked if they showed it in the beginning of the show like they do with all the other flashbacks.
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Psych is a top 5 show. I can never get enough.
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i don't really watch it for the mysteries. i watch it for the back-and-forth between shawn and gus (and everyone else) and the pop culture references. "South African! The diplomats in Lethal Weapon 2 were South African!"
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I loved this episode. I also like Lassiter. Lassiter's constant doubt of Shawn is necessary to the show; he works good as yin to Shawn's yang. Despite Shawn always figuring out the mystery in the end, it's good for the show to have someone question his questionable (fake!) psychic powers.
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Personally, I've always liked Lassiter from the first minute, simply because of that fact.
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I missed this episode. I made a bad choice decided that I should watch American Horror Story because it wouldn't be shown any other time of the whereas Psch probably would.

However, I won't be making that mistake again. I love Shawn and Gus; their relationship is wonderful. This show kills and I won't leave it again. I promise, guys.
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Malcolm McDowell was so good in the episode. The Psych-Out thing they do at the end though was probably his best part, when they were doing the accents. I too felt the "mystery" was lacking, but I don't think it has ever been that great. I think my favorite part though was when Shawn and Gus were talking to the two kids, and they wanted to fight the British kid. In all reality, that is probably why I find the show hilarious, because that is what it is, two adult males, acting like children, and getting away with it. The best scenes are the ones where Gus takes an active role in the ridiculousness of the antics. I do believe they forgot a key element in the episode though where Gus didn't get a funny nickname in an introduction.
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Burned through the first three seasons a couple years back. Was great then and continues to get better. Psych is self-aware that its a comedic crime procedural and has never taken itself seriously. Love the cast and writing. Throw in nostalgic references (Mattel's Classic Football 2 FTW) and awesome episode titles, you have a great show.
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I absolutely loved the episode. I agree it wasn't the best murder mystery, but when it comes to Psych, some mysteries are better (and easier) than others. So happy Shawn and Gus are back!!!
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Regarding the Sprite Zero can (label facing audience)---when Shawn took that sip (the 2nd time), it was just too much---Psych can even make annoying ads funny.



Also, I was a Monk fan as well. and Monk did name the wrong guy at least once. I remember the episode. It had to the with the mayor, an umbrella, and a drugstore..... there were a few more times I bet--but I can't recall the details off the top of my head...
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You're right. In "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike," he hastily fingers a suspect because he so desperately wants the city to remove all the trash from the streets -- he can't even function enough to investigate. It was the first (and I think only time?) he was wrong.



When Monk says, "that's the guy," that's the guy. :)
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I have to give you a lot of credit. How you figured out the episode from my very random description is truly amazing!!



Yeah 99.99999% you are correct- that was Monk's only time being wrong (and clearly it was because of the garbage). There was another episode I was thinking of though; I tried to find the name, but was unsuccessful...it was about a guy, and his garage, and tools (once again, a great description!) but that's the .1%

I think Monk suspected him though...pretty sure it was in the Natalie era, but I can't find it....

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The best of the recurring supporting characters on this show is and remains Kurt Fuller's "Woody". Kurt Fuller is like Mark Sheppard, every time you see their names in the credits of whatever shows these great character actors inhabit, you know its going to be a great episode. Just an added bonus that they both played re-curring supernaturals on "Supernatural".



Get off Brom Garrett's back. Its Omundson that makes Lassiter strange but funny and pathetic which is just how he should be. I wouldn't tag him with the "worst character" label because everyone in this cast brings something to their characters.
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OMG--so funny!!!!! And now I'm gonna read the article, and make a real contribution.
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I actually like Lassie. His doubt in Shawn's "ability" makes it all the more fun to see Shawn get it right. If no one doubted Shawn and just let him do whatever he wanted without questioning his ability, the show wouldn't be nearly as hilarious.
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Not too concerned about the mystery, its the laughs that make this show and like you said this premiere had them. This is probably the only 'procedural' I watch because of the antics of Shawn and Gus. Just a super fun show, easy to watch. Love it!!
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