Psych stepped out if its '80s comfort zone in the Season 8 premiere, "Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster's Goblet of Fire," an homage to Guy Ritchie's 1998 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels caper comedy.
The result, as the Brits would say, was bloody brilliant.
Psych creator Steve Franks wrote (with Kell Cahoon) and directed by the episode, which featured the return of international art thief Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes of 1987's The Princess Bride) and Vinnie Jones, the former footballer whose acting career was launched in the original Lock, Stock film.
Franks successfully appropriated all the hallmarks of Ritchie's heist films, from Jones himself and other colorful Cockney criminals to fast-cut filming and a circular plot loaded with surprise twists.
The tastiest treat for Psych-Os, however, was in the second half of the episode title: "Burton Guster's Goblet of Fire."
Considering Gus's (Dulé Hill) various obsessions with astronomy (and an especial fondness for Pluto), spelling bees (but don't you dare mention "aggiornamento"), and comic books (which not even George Takei and his blueberry crisis could tarnish), it's no wonder that he also geeks out over Harry Potter!
Gus spent the entire episode in a Gryffindor uniform, always hoping he would be attending PotterCon, the Harry Potter festival in London.
As he and Shawn (James Roday) recalled in vastly different, embellished flashbacks, Shawn had been summoned across the pond by Interpol ("yes, that Interpol, the one on the DVD warning screen") for a consulting job.
Franks couldn't afford a location shoot in London (they blew the production budget on Psych: The Musical), but he compensated by gleefully peppering the dialogue with Britishisms, references to the local cuisine (I get the feeling that Psych's writers had been waiting years to use "spotted dick" in a sentence), often-terrible Cockney accents, and conservative English names. To add even more authenticity (or not), the set was generously dressed with miniature Union Jacks.
But Gus and Shawn almost didn't make it past Santa Barbara's airport security, thanks to Gus's Potter arsenal.
The kerfuffle began with the security agent grilling the wand-wielding Gus, who huffed, "That is a Phoenix feather sir, not a weapon. If you're familiar with the most popular franchise in the history of film, maybe you wouldn't experience such confusion here."
But when Shawn tried to apologize for his friend, who was anxious about the very tight window between "our arrival at Heathrow and the Rupert Grint meet-and-greet at Leicester Square," ("I'm a Grint Grunt loud and proud"), the agent barked, "He's not bringing a giant sharp wooden stick as a carry-on!"
Cut to the confiscated objects, including a broomstick and various potions.
"That 'stick' is a Nimbus 2000," protested Gus, "a gift Harry Potter received from Minerva McGonagall. Which you would know if you ever successfully opened a book."
When Gus made a dive for the potions, it was clear the Grint Grunt wasn't going to make the meet-and-greet.
The duo finally arrived at Interpol, where they were greeted by an eager assistant named Winston (Theo Devaney) who revealed that Shawn was hired not for an investigation but rather for his uncanny resemblance to an American getaway driver they'd apprehended before a planned heist.
And then Winston introduced them to his boss, deputy director Royston Cornwallis Staley—known to the Psych team as Pierre Despereaux!
"Shawn, Buster," he greeted the gobsmacked guys—as usual misstating Gus's name.
While Gus rolled his eyes, Shawn's man-crush was reignited when the Interpol bigwig explained that "Pierre Despereaux" was the undercover alias he used to infiltrate the criminal underworld.
At this point, Shawn and Gus recollected Despereax's exploits with a Ritchie-style video montage, complete with newspaper coverage—one of which featured a moving picture of the thief, just like the wizarding world's Daily Prophet.
And then Shawn had the chance to go undercover himself, dressing up in a Smokey and the Bandit costume complete with red racing jacket, cowboy hat and driving gloves.
For once, Shawn didn't have to pretend to be a psychic to solve a case. Instead, Interpol depended on his play-acting skills to convince crime boss Ronny Ives (Jones) he was worthy of joining their Keyser Söze-style gang.
The backroom assemblage included The Wonder Years' Olivia d'Abo, playing the impossible-to-pronounce (for Shawn anyway) Deirdre, who infiltrated the royal family's security system. Shortly after Shawn's arrival, the gang was down a member—on account of Ives shooting to death a "traitor amongst us."
Without their explosives expert, Ives wanted to call off the job—but Shawn persuaded him to recruit someone else instead.
"They call him The Wizard," he said, after spotting Gus pacing in the alley outside.
"You know, Shawn, I really would like to help you," Gus balked, consulting his PotterCon brochure, "but I have the opening hat ceremony, then the Horcrux scavenger hunt, then the Quidditch tournament. My afternoon is booked solid."
Once inside, however, Gus embraced his new role, saying, "I prefer to be called The Wiz," and lifting his credentials straight from Ron Weasley's resume.
"As far as my exploits go, let's just say when I was 13 I broke into the Ministry. I fought off mobs, and once, I even got splinched."
After Shawn aced his driving test (by running down all the traffic cones and cardboard pedestrians: "You pay me to drive; something gets in my way, it's not my problem"), Gus showed off his explosive skills by throwing down some Floo Powder while casting the Patronus spell—which looked to've failed until a nearby trashcan exploded (presumably Staley's work).
Back at Interpol, Shawn and Gus (but mostly Gus) began to question Staley/Despereaux's credentials when Winston revealed that he barely knew his boss, who was hired by Wim Stuveysant after a huge staff turnover.
Naturally, Lassie (Timothy Omundson), who'd been demoted to mail duty back at the SBPD, was only too happy to do a background check on Staley. (While Gus was only too happy to raid the staff refrigerator.)
Lassie confirmed that Interpol had no record of an agent named Staley—or Wim Stuveysant, either.
Believing that Despereaux was setting them up again, the guys enlisted Winston to help them, and they snuck back to the warehouse. Shawn took the wheel of their van, with Ronnie Ives directing him to pick up the new member of their team. Why? Because once again, there's "a traitor amongst us"—and it was 'Arry, whom Ives tossed out of the speeding vehicle.
He protested his innocence, but in a beautiful Ritchie send-off, Ives yelled, "Tell it to the road, 'Arry!"
The new team member of course was Despereaux, who—after the crime was solved and the thugs were taken down in another Ritchie-esque fight sequence—finally convinced Shawn and "Busby" that he really was Royston Cornwallis Staley.
That is, until, the very last scene, where Gus and Shawn toasted their success with room-temperature beer at a pub called the Bloody Bucket (because of course).
Just outside, Gus spotted Staley's boss, Wim Stuyvesant, in reality "a homeless dude with real urine stains on his pants."
"C'mon son," he told his Desper-loyal partner, "we were set up!"
But Shawn, as devoted to Despereaux as Wesley was to Buttercup, chose to believe they weren't. And why not just embrace the fantasy—like we viewers did?
"Shawn, we went to one pub and a warehouse," Gus said about their tour of London—which sadly didn't include PotterCon. "We might as well have been in British Columbia."
So the Psych production team never left jolly ol' Vancouver—but I reckon everyone who watched "Lock, Stock" had smashing time anyway.
OVERHEARD IN LONDON TOWN:
– "Gus, don't be The Howling 2: Your Sister Is a Werewolf."
– "That is a Phoenix feather sir, not a weapon. If you're familiar with the most popular franchise in the history of film, maybe you wouldn't experience such confusion here." (Gus to the airport security agent)
– "Have you heard about Pluto? That's mess…" (Gus, interrupted while trying his pickup line on an Interpol secretary)
– "I may not be the best judge because you people all look alike to me." (Gus about Shawn's doppelganger)
– "Which Corgi is the happiest?" (Shawn to Deirdre after learning she infiltrating royal security)
– "I promised my local Potterheads that I'd be returning with a picture of myself and Rupert Grint, possibly Pottering." (Defined by Gus as jumping off "something high with a broom and snap a picture in midair so you appear to be flying.")
– "The only thing I will admit is that bubble and squeak is neither bubbly nor squeaky. (Shawn on the traditional British dish)
– "I came here to drink my weight in Butterbeer, and that's what I'm gonna do." (Gus)
– "While you're at it, could you look up Rupert Grint's address?" (Gus when Winston was ascertaining the location of the heist)
– "I'm starting to smell like Hagrid's dog." "Fang." "You know Fang but you don't know who Dumbledore is?" "I know dogs." (Gus and Shawn)
– "At best, I'm pleasingly eccentric. At worst I'm incorrigible and sophomoric." (Shawn)
– "How do you say 'suck it' in English?" "You just did, Shawn."
What'd you think of Psych's Season 8 premiere?
AIRED ON 3/26/2014
Season 8 : Episode 10