Psych: The Musical
was worth the seven-year wait.
I should start from the very beginning (it's a very good
place to start), but the show's finest moments (and biggest laughs) came at the
end, courtesy of Gus's "Jamaican Inspector" (mon) song. Arms
uplifted, his voice echoing the booming laugh of 1980s 7-Up pitchman Geoffrey Holder,
he sang of traveling "from Jamaica to London Town" to rescue
prostitutes ("English Jezebels") from Jack the Ripper. It was amazing, and impressively filmed on a
moving crane on the production's gorgeous, Victorian-era set.
And now that that's out of the way, it's time to make like a theater critic and review this
sucker (sans murder/suicide, et cetera, et cetera) number by number.
Unfortunately, the musical got off to a rocky start, beginning
with that silly storybook intro. We'd waited so long for this; why waste time on a conceit that doesn't include Gus, Shawn, or Lassie?
"SANTA BARBARA SKIES"
Well, this was awkward. The musical's first number—a
catchy ditty featuring Shawn and Gus and dozens of other wacky Santa Barbara residents on the boardwalk—was apparently originally conceived as a way to
establish Psych's premise for any uninitiated viewers who might be tuning in for the musical. It still served that function
well, but due to USA's scheduling delay, the lyrics about Shawn's deceived
girlfriend were a head-scratcher for anyone who'd seen Season 7's series game-changer:
Juliet did discover that Shawn had been lying,
with heartbreaking results.
Still, it was a great song, which nailed their bromance banter.
"All I know, it's just me, always cleaning up the mess," Gus sang, "while
your hair gets the credit getting people to confess." In response, Shawn brought up his regular beauty regimen, "That's why I moisturize—under Santa
But when Gus and Shawn took a breather to invite Henry
(Corbin Bernsen) to join in, he flatly refused: "Yeah—not happening"—making
him the only regular cast member who didn't sing. (Even McNab managed a few
notes before Lassiter shut him down.) Maybe Bernsen would've been more game if L.A. Law had done a musical?
Broadway star Anthony Rapp killed it as Z, a criminally
insane playwright locked up in the loony bin for murdering a critic and torching
the theater about to premiere his new play, Ripper! His song,
backed by a dramatic orchestra, offered a flawless transition from the light and
sunny "Santa Barbara Skies" to Z's dark, slightly menacing storyline.
"I'VE HEARD IT BOTH WAYS"
Behold Timothy Omundson's magnificent baritone! Lassie and
Shawn's Argentinian tango was one of this musical's greatest gifts—and I bet we'll
all be playing this tune in our heads the next time Shawn utters his favorite catchphrase.
(The chorus also included possibly the first-ever musical mention of a gliding
vowel: "I've heard it both ways: the right way and then yours/I've heard
it both ways, let's not open any sores/I've heard it right, and wrong, don't
diph my thong, anymore.")
The mental hospital that Z was confined to was a wonderful callback to Gus and
Shawn's undercover stint in another facility in "Shawn Interrupted." This one was superior, however, because it also housed (drumroll, Paul Hogan!) YANG! Even though Psych series creator Steve
Franks wanted to do the musical several years ago, I now can't imagine it being successful without Ally Sheedy's creepy serial killer, whose arc spanned three
seasons. She warmly greeted Shawn by saying, "I'm so glad I did not
detonate your mother"—remember how she strapped a bomb to Mama Spencer in the Season 3 finale? If you recall, that episode also introduced Jimmi Simpson's Mary Lightly, whom Yin killed
in the Season 4 finale. (Foreshadowing!)
Yang also winked at Franks' original songs—"In my
head, it's a musical. And I don't mean one of those stupid musicals where they
just redo old songs"—and offered a natural segue from dialogue to song by
demanding that they serenade her in exchange for clues to Z's whereabouts.
"MAKING UP A SONG"
The group's first ditty for Yang was actually quite sweet,
and it showcased her special relationship with Shawn. Lassie and Juliet
reluctantly joined Shawn in improvising lyrics (with "Officer Ham 'n' Eggs"
on bass), and Yang made good on her deal by releasing a balloon to reveal Z's
secret living quarters in the burned-out theater.
The team learned that Z escaped because sleazy producer Armitage (silver
fox Barry Bostwick) was actually resurrecting Ripper! as Murder in Whitechapel, and confronted him at the new theater—where we saw that Psych had recreated the original Ripper! set. Note that the cast and crew roster included the names of the Psych musical's real-life executive story editor (scribe and actor Carlos Jacott), choreographer
(Paul Becker), and musical director (Adam Cohen):
Gus used the opportunity to campaign for a part in Whitechapel, claiming he was up for a "small but pivotal role" as Bern-E, the
lightbulb-changing robot in the local production of Wall-E. "This
inspector character," he asked Armitage, "do you think he could be…a
Jamaican?" He posed the same question to Lamberth, the actor actually
playing the role, who was naturally indignant. (Especially since they ridiculed
his name, echoing Shawn's Highlander riff
from Season 2's "Bye-Bye Baby.")
"Sir, calm down," soothed Gus. "I'm just
saying, the show seems a little white."
The director, Ben, countered: "It's set in London. In
"So what are you saying? Black people hadn't been
Touché, Gus! Shawn himself tried on the inspector role, yelling,
in a terrible Cockney accent, "That's quite enough of that there, Reeper!"
I don't know about you, but I'm still cleaning up Diet Coke splatter from my
spit-take. And I'd already witnessed the scene being filmed on location in Vancouver! I
also got a behind-the-scenes look at Miles the Producer's guilt-prompted jump off the catwalk—really
a stuntman free-falling onto a landing mat after they tossed a life-size dummy from
the rafters. Psych went all-out for the musical!
"OFTEN IT'S THE OPPOSITE"
Word on the street is that actor Kurt Fuller was apprehensive
about singing, but I have no idea why. Woody is ready for Broadway! Although his post-autopsy ruling that Miles' committed suicide was sketchy ("He just kinda
has a sad face"), he turned out to be right. And his lecherous flirting
with Yang ("agree to agree" when he was told she was a killer) was simply
Alas, when Yang escaped—after the gang harassed Z's ex-girlfriend, Elisa, who was later murdered—she doesn't go running into Woody's arms. Or Z's, for that matter; the playwright managed to persuade Shawn that he was innocent before fleeing again.
"SANTA BARBARA SKIES" (REPRISE)
Chief Vick, you got a set of pipes, girlfriend! And what a way to chastise Lassie and Juliet for losing Yang: "Do you think we could find her hiding place, just in case she eats someone's face?" Then, in just eight words, Lassie distilled the police department and Psych's antagonistic detective methods: "Finding facts not just snacks and random prognostication."
Back at the theater, Shawn questioned Christopher "There Can Only Be One" Lamberth, Gus made another sidesplittingly funny case
for stealing Lamberth's part ("Jamaican Inspector mon, straight from Kingston to
London Town"), and Barry Bostwick was run down in the street. This was followed by some serious sleuthing by Shawn, more clues from Yang, and another pitch
from Gus, who insisted "the audience will be so relieved" when his
Jamaican Inspector mon "comes on to lighten the mood" with lyrics
like "We all gon' party like it's 1888/Ripper, leave them prostitutes alone!"
The theater was the setting for a violent confrontation
between Yang, Shawn, and the killer—who mortally stabbed Yang. Oh no! Except: Oh,
yes! As she lay dying, her victim Mary
Lightly descended from the heavens in a furry white robe. He discarded it to
reveal a racquetball uniform, answering the age-old question, "Is there racquetball in heaven?" Actually, that
was his dying query to Shawn in "Mr. Yin Presents," which Shawn and Gus
honored by wearing racquetball unis to his funeral. Way to return the serve! When
Yang begged him, in song, to lead her "to that Promised Land," Mary replied candidly, "Promised Land is not the term for the place you'll likely go."
(But he might call in some favors.)
"SHAWN HEARS THE THEME / THE BREAKDOWN"
After Shawn bid a final farewell to "the only clinically
insane friend [he's] ever had" (Brad Dourif's Bernie technically wasn't cuckoo, remember), he solved the case.
In song. From a fake rooftop during a live performance of Murder in
Whitechapel. And there, on the phone to Juliet, he addressed the audience
in that hysterical Cockney accent: "Aye! I'm just up here jawing into my futuristic
talking device. Ain't I? Alright then."
And then he handed off the deerstalker cap to Gus. It was Gus's moment in the spotlight! "Wagwan London Town," he improvised, pulling
everything he could from his Jamaican patois playbook. "Who wants some
As Gus then succumbed to stage fright, the stage manager gave the go-ahead to a very tall chimney sweep, who'd been warming up in the wings. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Steve Franks, sneaking into
his own show as an uncredited extra!
Psych: The Musical
ended with a happily-ever-after, with Shawn literally closing the book on the
case: The whole tale was a spec script he was running past Z, back in the mental
hospital. And before the guys scattered Yang's ashes on her psychiatrist's car, Gus was quick
to remind Z that he was "attached" to the project.
But that's not all, folks. Gus provided the encore with "Jamaican
Inspector." If only Scotland Yard had "a Rastaman to help the
magistrate," Jack the Ripper might have "left them prostitutes alone."
– "Gus, don't be the kites upon strings."
– "Gus, don't be the very model of a modern major general."
– "This is my partner, Lil Wayne."
– "This is my partner, King Mongkut (Gus: "Et cetera, et cetera")
– "This is my partner, Gigi von Tron." (Gus: "Van
Tran!") "I've heard it both ways."
– "I hear that. That stuff does not belong on the boards." (Gus the aspiring actor, throwing out theater jargon)
– "It just sounds like you're saying it with a lisp." "Or with a dum-dum pop in your mouth." "You need to change your name immediately." "It's like calling yourself Jean-Claude Van Dammit." "Besides there can only be one." (Gus and Shawn's outrage over actor Chris Lamberth's name)
– "He was sober as a judge... Reinhold impersonator." (Woody's aside to Yang, a.k.a. Ally Sheedy, Reinhold's fellow '80s teen comedy staple)
– "Dude you were just humming a Tevin Campbell medley. How did you even hear that?" (Shawn, when Gus heard that Whitechapel was bound for Broadway)
– "Did you hear about Pluto? That's messed-up, right?" (Gus, reviving his famous pickup line)
– "That's rough for the group." (Shawn, when Elisa said the SBPD made her feel less safe)
– "Sound theory, Spencer. You're right: The evidence points the other way." (Lassie, pointing to Elisa's dead body after Shawn insisted she had "absolutely nothing to fear")
– "She did kill her
father for me, don't you forget that." (Shawn to Henry, who angrily
disconnected their Skype session)
What'd you think of Psych: The Musical? Which song was your favorite?
AIRED ON 3/26/2014
Season 8 : Episode 10