NOTE: There will be full spoilers here, so please make sure you’re ready before continuing…you have been warned!
Anyone who knows me knows that I love Psych from the very first time I saw it. The mixture of excellent writing/dialogue, impeccable chemistry between the cast and actual intriguing procedural police work felt like a winning combination from the start. Combine that with some first class comedy in every episode and you just can’t miss. The show made it through over 100 episodes and eight seasons before the creator (Steve Franks) and the co-stars/producers (Dulé Hill and James Roday) decided that show had run its course and would end. Sigh.
The season started off with a bang as Shawn and Gus visited England for an adventure with the best reoccurring character Psych ever had: Pierre Despereaux (played expertly by the ever debonaire Carey Elwes). The boys get tangled up in a tale of intrigue and thievery as Shawn and Gus meet up with Despereaux, who is in actuality an Interpol agent named Royston Staley that was undercover in the States the whole time…yeah, right! Anyway, the entire episode is directed in the same vain as a Guy Ritchie flick (The episode is actually entitled “Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster’s Goblet of Fire) and even guest stars Vinnie Jones as a tough as nails British criminal. I know, a real stretch right? The best part to me, other than Shawn dressing up as Burt Reynolds from Smokey and the Bandit because he is a getaway driver (of course!), is Gus wearing a Hogwarts uniform because PorterCon is going on. Gus asking a smoking hot secretary if she’s heard about Pluto while in full Gryffindor garb is hilarious and pure Psych. Unfortunately, the entire season doesn’t hold up to this high level of quality.
In a ten episode season, just one miss is a big deal. When it’s three or four it’s not only a HUGE deal but make the entire season feel off. The chemistry between the cast and even the normally standout dialogue felt a little forced. I’m not sure if this was due to the network pulling the show or everyone seeing the writing on the wall, but when a show like Psych relies so heavily on these misfires it’s extremely noticeable…especially to a noted Psych-O such as myself. First and foremost, the worst character that was ever on Psych, Harris Trout (annoyingly played by Anthony Michael Hall), was allowed to continue for the first half of the season. This was extremely disappointing to me since he was the one who unceremoniously demoted Carlton Lassiter (Timothy Omunson) from Head Detective, kicked Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) to the curb and named himself Chief in her stead. Add that to the fact that he wasn’t funny AND didn’t even lend to jokes at his expense and he is just a wasted character. When he was booted from the force, it was one of the best moments of the year. Also, my least favorite episode of the entire run of the series, “Cog Blocked”, had Gus overly relating to an apparent suicide victim while Shawn tried to rectify his mooching ways was totally unfunny and should have been nixed from the season; it was awful. I also felt that it was an odd choice to have Juliette O’Hara (Maggie Lawson) absent for three of the last four episodes. I will say, however, that the final episodes were some of the best of the show.
After the debacle that was “Cog Blocked”, the chemistry and dialogue goes back to form with one of the more inventive episodes of Psych in a long while. “1967: A Psych Odyssey” is essentially a cold case where the flashbacks to the original crime are played out by the cast (for instance Gus plays a lead singer in a swing band and Shawn is a crime boss with a terrible South American accent) as more evidence is uncovered. The show was creative, fun and played to the cast’s strengths…it was a welcome comeback. The next episode had the boys running their own food truck looking for the murder of their favorite truck vendor. This episode was hilarious and had several laugh out loud moments including Gus holding Shawn back from the crime scene as he screamed “Is that Maricio’s truck?!? IS THAT MARICIO’S TRUCK?!?” Awesome. The next to last episode that Psych ever showed (man…it is still really hard to say that), was called “A Nightmare on State Street”; here Gus has a nightmare that essentially lasts the entire episode. This is interspersed with therapy sessions by dream therapist played by the one and only Bruce Campbell. Gus’ screams have always been hilarious and this episode is chock full of ’em as Gus has dreams about zombies, Freddy and some Shining-style moments. This is a top five episode for me and was classic Psych (read: witty dialogue, crazy pop-culture references and over the top moments). The last episode had me scared from the start due to its title: “The Breakup”. I read that and said aloud “Uh oh”…does this mean the end of Shawn and Jules (which would be a disappointment) or Shawn and Gus (which would be a disaster)? Well, as it turns out it was the latter as Shawn decides to grow up and move to San Fransisco and leave Gus and the Psych offices behind. The episode was …well, I’ll get to that in a bit.
No Psych season would be complete without it’s fair share of celebrity cameos and the final season had arguably the best lineup to date. I already mentioned Anthony Michael Hall (blech!), Bruce Campbell (yeah!) and Cary Elwes (woohoo!), but there were so many others. It was good to see Tom Arnold get some work this year as he played the questionable ghost whisperer Garth in “A Touch of Sweevil”. The enigmatic Sutton Foster (normally a Broadway powerhouse) make a hilarious cameo in the aforementioned “Nightmare”. Mira Sorvino takes the role of Head Detective after Lassiter is promoted to Chief and does an admirable job in trying to replace Jules. Other cameos include Peter Stormare, Yvette Nicole Brown and Ralph Macchio. The biggest coup that the show got casting wise was the addition of the much beloved (by the show at least) Billy Zane. Ending the show with Zane as the villain in the series finale was a huge win for the show and, more importantly, for the fans. There is one more HUGE cameo in the final episode…but I won’t spoil that for you here. Let’s just say it’s “genius”.
So, as Boyz II Men once put it, how do I say goodbye? As I stated previously, I am an unapologetic Psych-O. I have never missed an episode and I look forward to the announcement that the complete series will be included with a pineapple storage case…because I will buy it. However, I am not alone. Psych fans rival those of any outside of the Star Trek/Wars universe for loyalty and passion. Closing out a series like this requires a ton of work to nail everything that the fans want while maintaining the excellence that made Psych such a fan favorite to begin with. I will say that Franks, Roday and Hill did what they could but came up just short of those ridiculously high expectations. The middle episodes were just un-Psychish and lacked that chemistry that the show is famous for. I will say that the episodes that hit hit HARD and will go down as some of the all time best in the series. The finale was another great episode that pulled on several heart strings throughout (and yes, I wept. Like a swaddled baby). Shawn delaying telling Gus that he was moving was hard to watch; not for the acting or content but for the fact that in 40 minutes, we’ll never get any new “I’ve heard it both ways” or Shawn and Gus harmonizing “suck it” or fingers to the head or…well, any new Psych!! EVER!!! It’s truly sad for me, but the creative braintrust nailed the ending. I love knowing that Shawn and Jules will live happily ever after. I love that Gus and Shawn will continue to solve crimes together (albeit in another city). And I love that Shawn, Gus and Jules have to confiscate a car to chase after a thug who steals the ring that Shawn finally gives Juliette. It was an homage to the show and a giant nod to the fans. It all worked and will go down as one of the great series finales of all time. I am looking forward to the announcement of a Psych movie that will bring the cast back together for one last hurrah; but in the meantime, I will sleep soundly at night knowing that Tapman and The Catch will be out there looking out for us in the night. Someone asked me this week if Psych will go down as my all time favorite show. I only had one thing to say to them: “Come on, SON!”