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May 2011

Psych - season 3

cast: James Roday, Dule Hill, Corbin Bernsen, Kirsten Nelson, and Timothy Omundson

creator: Steve Franks

657 minutes (12) 2008
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Universal Playback
DVD Region 2

RATING: 5/10
review by Ian Hunter

Psych - season three

It's an interesting idea, honest, it is. Basically you've got the son of a policeman (no, not Dexter, being taught 'Harry's Rules' and the 'code') named Shawn Spencer (played by James Roday) who has developed almost superhuman powers of deduction, able to notice the tiniest detail to solve crimes. He can't be bothered actually joining the police force because that sounds like too much hard work, and he can't get a job elsewhere, but being a good citizen he gives the police tip-offs that help them solve crimes. Except those suspicious policemen think it's too good to be true and that he's actually involved in the crimes, so he pretends to be a psychic and sets up a psychic business with his best friend Burton 'Gus' Guster (played by Dule Hill) who offer their consulting services to the Santa Barbara police force and pretty soon they are into their third TV series (with another two already shown since then, and a sixth series due out in the autumn). How? Why?

I ask those questions because this is fairly average stuff. Admittedly, series three does try to develop some subplots to bubble under each episode. Previous series settled on solving the crime, then another one and another one. How they have tried to up the interest is by introducing Cybill Shepherd as Shawn's mum as Shawn has a love-hate relationship with his policeman dad, Henry (played by Corbin Bernsen), with the emphasis on that he loves to hate him, because of ideas he has about his father cheating on his mother, and why they split up. We also get to know some background about inadequate Shawn in an episode about a high school reunion, which almost makes him more human. Almost! The other major subplot is a sort of Moonlighting sexual chemistry/ tension thing going on between Shawn and detective Juliet O'Hara (played by Maggie Lawson).

The season comprises of 16 episodes, some directed by the likes of John Badham (who directed Saturday Night Fever, and WarGames, and Blue Thunder) - one of which is an episode called Daredevils which guest-stars Jeff Fahey as a grizzled old stunt rider; John Landis (The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In London) also directs the Christmas episode Christmas Joy (the second Christmas special the show has had to that point); and even actor Tim Matheson directs an episode. Apart from the regulars, other guest stars include Rachael Leigh Cook as Shawn's old high school love interest, Gary Cole (brilliantly cast) as an anal SWAT commander, and Ally Sheedy playing a serial killer (I kid you not) called Mr Yang for a season finale that upped the tension as Shawn's mother gets kidnapped, and we slip into 24/ Speed mode, but it is all a little too late.

The reason..? Well, there are several. Billed as a comedy drama, Psych isn't really that funny, or dramatic. The plots are fairly routine stuff. There is always an obvious solution, with an obvious suspect, but neither of them turns out to be correct. Shawn himself isn't that likeable a character, with several monkeys on his back and uttering quips and put-downs and he can be more than a tad devious to the detriment of his friends and family. Also, there are only so many pastiches you can do about the 1970s, 1980s, and Friday The 13th movies, and have our gruesome twosome dress up in funny outfits. How this has lasted (soon-to-be) six seasons is beyond me.

DVD extras include gag reels, deleted scenes, and commentaries for some (but not many) episodes.



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