Friday, December 10, 2010

Psych- Dual Spires

Season 5- Episode 12

I hate to continue to bring up Community, but the thing that makes their parody episodes a success is that despite the numerous references to other movies or TV shows, the show is still grounded by the relationship between its main characters. The same, however, cannot be said of Psych, which since Season 3 has done this type of one note tribute with increasing frequency. Tonight's episode (it actually aired on Dec. 1st, but I've been busy) takes a hard look at one of James Roday's favorite shows, Twin Peaks. If you are wondering what the hell Twin Peaks is you are certainly not alone. The show began airing in 1990 and only survived a two season run before being cancelled. The show is famous both for its creator David Lynch, one of the premier directors of what could be called surrealist film, and the fact that many consider it to be on of the most quality shows ever put on TV. If you have seen any of Lynch's movies (Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive) you'll know that he likes to look at the utopian portrayal of the American suburb and put a spin on it. This is true of Twin Peaks where the murder of the Homecoming Queen, Laura Palmer, commences the unraveling of the seemingly perfect community she lived in.

Psych takes this idea of a perfect community and replicates it on the small scale (their fictitious town Dual Spires only has 288 residents), while keeping the murder the same. The plot begins with Gus and Shawn receiving a random and eerie email inviting them to Dual Spires' cinnamon festival, which they of course decide to attend. They arrive in Dual Spires and find that it is oddly quaint and old-fashioned. They don't appear to have any modern technology and Gus is the only black person they have seen in ages, and in one of the episode's funnier moments is mistaken for Frederick Douglas. However, what commences after the body is discovered runs about the same as every Psych episode the last two seasons. Shawn and Gus begin to awkwardly investigate the murder, while Juliet and Lassiter show up to make things a little more difficult for them. They slowly patch the clues to come up with one conclusion, which is complicated by the death of a minor episodic character, and eventually figure it out just in time to saved by Juliet and Lassiter. If this all sounds familiar it is because pretty much every police procedural uses it now.

This leads me to the major problem I had with this episode, which is unless you were familiar with the original show it was boring and confusing. Most of the humor came from knowing how the original show operated and from seeing the original actors in different roles, although one did reprieve an older role he played in Psych. Throughout the episode I found myself using wikipedia and imdb to try and see who the actors played and what some of the references were. This made it impossible to get into any viewing rhythm, and by the end of the episode I was less than satisfied. In Season 1 and 2, the murder mysteries took a backseat to the relationships between Shawn and Gus, Shawn and his father, and Team Psych vs. the SBPD. The mysteries were not complicated, but the show was still genuinely funny and you actually cared about what was going. This culminated in what was a great Season 3, where they were able to have episodes that produced some real emotional drama. That was the show that I fell in love with, but over the last two seasons, the proliferation of tribute episodes and the lack of any non-superficial character development has really dragged down its quality. The major development this season was Shawn and Juliet finally becoming a couple, but despite the fact that five years of viewing was rewarded , the moment seemed boring. It's getting to the point where the only time the show is excellent anymore is when they bring in a good guest star (this season's Viagra Falls), do a broad-based theme episode (last season's High Noon-ish), or change up the format (last season's Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark).

This season only has three more episodes (not counting the one two nights ago) left before they get back to the drawing board for Season 6. We still have the inevitable finish to the Yin-Yang trilogy, but outside of that I would like one more strong episode to make me feel confident that Psych hasn't lost its touch for good. Next weeks Christmas episode would be a good place to start, although the fact that it is based on It's a Wonderful Life doesn't bode well. Sometimes it's sad to abandon a TV show you love, but Psych is seriously slacking.

Grade: C-

Random Musings:
- I doubt anyone reading this blog actually watches this show besides me, so I shall spare you from in-depth quotes.
- That being said, despite my hatred for this particular episode, Seasons 1-3 were excellent, and even Season 4 was good. If you are looking for a funny, light-hearted show to catch-up with, it's on Netflix instant play. It may be no The Wire or Breaking Bad, but I still enjoy it.

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