Monday, February 23, 2009

Tube Steak: "Psych"

I actually don't feel good about myself when I watch "Psych" usually. The show falls into the category that most USA shows tend to fall into--a little too light in tone. I think what makes me generally feel worst about liking the show is the absolutely embarrassing theme song, which especially in the show's earlier seasons was so retardedly (and no, the irony of making up an adverb using the root word of 'retarded' is not lost on me) hokey that I felt physical revulsion and was involuntarily compelled to change the channel.

But ultimately, the likeability of stars James Roday and Dulé Hill defeated the guilt I had festering in my formidable gut, and the 80's-centric humor that sprang forth from a love for the 80's (not deriving its laughs at the expense of the 80's like the abhorrent "Family Guy") kept me coming back for more.

Keeping in mind that I actually feel generally reluctant to embrace "Psych", the season finale that aired Friday was really fucking good. Co-written by Roday--who has actually had his fingers in the mix on some of the other particularly noteworthy episodes of the past two seasons, including Tuesday the 17th, American Duos, and Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion--An Evening with Mr. Yang was actually emotionally challenging. Roday had to display some range, was required to look past falling back on his seemingly endless supply of affability, and commanded scenes while operating outside of his comfort zone.

The episode was infused with more than its fair share of tongue-in-cheek in jokes for the observant viewer--a serial killer using cereal to send messages, Shawn referring to himself as Judd Nelson on the phone only to have *spoiler* Ally Sheedy turn up later, and the usage of The Replacements' "Within Your Reach" at the end of this episode as Shawn left with his lady which happens to be the very same song playing at the end of Say Anything... when Lloyd is leaving the apartment to go to England with Diane--and included such weird references as a rat being referred to as Ben from and busy TV guest star of late Jimmi Simpson then being called Willard. Gus had to alleviate Shawn's stress by acting the part of Shawn to hilariously awkward effect. One of my personal favorite semi-forgotten actresses (Rachael Leigh Cook) made a return appearance on the show.

And honestly, the show seemed to have a degree of gravitas rarely present in an episode of any USA show, even the sleek "Burn Notice"--a show I unabashedly adore.

So, while this slightly more serious and suspenseful tone may not return in every episode, I can honestly say that I do not feel bad for liking this show anymore. That is something.

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